Google Drops a Veil on Local Ranking Factors

April 11, 2016

Google has revealed significantly more about its local search ranking factors, and it’s the kind of info you can immediately use to enhance your own site’s local ranking. An expanded Google Help page lives up to its title, “Improve your local ranking on Google,” as highlighted in Search Engine Land’s April Fools’ Day post. This is no joke, however.

It’s not so much about change–the same three local ranking factors as before are there–relevance, distance, and prominence. It’s more about the smaller steps that build up your presence in each of the three categories. These updates offer solid additions to understanding how your local business can get space in the coveted local 3-pack.

Local Ranking Factors — Where to Start

It’s worth it for us all to work through the checklist of must-dos if we want to stay ahead of the competition, like making sure your Google My Business page is complete with all relevant information about your business.

There are no shortcuts offered–if you’re thinking you can just buy a better local ranking, think again. Google expressly states that in the interest of maintaining fairness, there’s no such option (note: paid advertising is on a different track, and is becoming more important in light of narrowing space for organic local search listings).

Each local search calls up a set of the best results based on:

  • Relevance — you probably know this means your site must be a good match for the search terms people use, but the more detail you include about your business and the fuller your profile, the greater your chances of making a match (see reference to the checklist of must-do’s above).
  • Distance — Google figures your distance from the searcher’s location–not a big surprise, but if you take the extra step to verify your locations, they are more likely to appear in Maps and Search, and across the Google-verse. Read up on how to verify your business locations.
  • Prominence — if you are a local landmark, museum, or national treasure, you are going to be high up in local listings. The rest of us, however, need to work to gain prominence in the eyes of Google local search, with plenty of articles, links, and directories. Add to this information a good score for positive reviews and ratings, and take steps to build these up.
  • Think of basic SEO as the foundation for all search rankings, including local, as Google has now spelled out with this update.

Google My Business and More

Make sure your Google My Business page is as complete as possible. The updated help page gives step-by-step instructions, clearly spelling out the impact a thorough listing can have on your visibility in Google rankings, as well as in Search and Maps.

Include a variety of photos on your Google My Business page and with your listings (especially those that show products and people). You know the rule about pictures being worth a thousand words–still true.

Manage reviews. When customers leave a review, you’re being handed a perfect opportunity to build engagement by consistently responding. At the same time, you demonstrate your company’s great attention to customer needs and interests.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you’re a local business with multiple locations or an overworked marketing team, National Positions can help optimize your local search standing, and develop a finely tuned custom campaign to connect you with your untapped local customer base.

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