Remember the local ranking factors page Google updated last year? Google dove deep into the three main ranking factors for local pages: Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.
Although the page is full of information that tells you how to rank better locally, we thought we’d go into some specifics of how to actually do this.
Here’s what we’ll go over:
- Increase your Relevance by updating your Google My Business info
- Take advantage of Distance and location to attract users in your area
- Boost your Prominence by engaging with your community of loyal customers
Online reviews and word-of-mouth are just a few of the things contributing to local search success these days. And they all have to do with Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.
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Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches a user’s search. If someone Googles for your search terms, will your business show up in the results?
How to increase your Relevance: Update your info on Google My Business. Google provides specific instructions on their help page on how to do this:
- Verify your location and address
- Update your hours (holidays, etc.)
- Manage and respond to online reviews
- Add photos
If you ask us, adding all of these is simply good business sense. You need to provide the most accurate info you can, so when someone finds your business online, they can visit you and make a purchase. If your hours are wrong, or your address is outdated, the wrong information could cause you to miss a sale.
In regards to reviews, taking these actions help you maintain a clear channel of communication between you and your customers. Taking the time to say “thanks” for a positive review (or apologize if you get a negative one) shows you care about what your customers think.
As for photos, users are more visual than ever before. Photos of your products show users what to expect when they visit, while a photo of your building offers a visual frame of reference—handy when on the go or visiting for the first time.
Some of these take quite a bit of effort (we’re looking at you, Reviews). But believe us—it’s worth it. Making your website Relevant will help make it stand out from the crowd.
Remember, Paul Haahr has stated that Relevance is a factor in how Google works. Making sure your site will be seen as relevant to your users’ search queries is essential. And an effective way to do it is to include all the relevant information.
Distance—You Can Go It
Distance asks “how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search?”
When users look up something like “shoe store in San Diego,” Distance helps Google pull up results based on the location term—in this case, “San Diego.” Additionally, if the user doesn’t provide a location, Google will “calculate distance based on what’s known about [the user’s] location.”
How to take advantage of Distance: You don’t have control over what people search. (If only!) However, you can make sure all the right info is there so that when users do perform a search query, it will lead them right to your business.
The success of Distance factor has to do with how much info you provide. If you have a brick and mortar shop, your address is critical. Same goes for your hours. Basically, you want to fill out everything you did for Relevance on your Google My Business page. Anything to help both users and Google know where your business does business from.
Prominence—Stand Out from the Crowd
Of the three factors, Prominence is the most important one for SEO.
Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. This is measured by offline prominence (think museums, landmark hotels, branded stores), as well as—wait for it—links, articles, and directories. The number of reviews and their scores are also counted, as is your position in search.
Prominence encourages the use of best practice SEO services. Although Google says they “do their best to keep the details of the search algorithm confidential,” there are certain things we know they like to see your website doing. These are the things that can result in better local rankings.
How to increase your Prominence: Think of Prominence like popularity. A good measure of Prominence is how aware people are of your business. How your reputation spreads from word of mouth. The way to do this is through reviews, which we’ve already stated, but from good links too.
Gathering reviews from happy customers, getting good links from authoritative domains—these are all things you should be doing anyway. Now you have even more incentive to chase after good feedback since it boosts your Prominence.
To do this, reach out to your customers and ask them to leave you a nice review. Your email subscribers are perfect for this, because they’ve already taken steps to follow you. But the next step is to offer them an incentive for reviewing your business, such as a discount off their next order, or a free appetizer or dessert when they come in next.
No need to grovel at their feet; many customers won’t have a problem leaving you some nice words. All you have to do is ask.
It’s Time to Take Action
All of Google’s changes show a more actionable approach for businesses—“Improve your local ranking;” “Fill out your info.” Google is flat-out telling you the things you can do to rank locally. Now all you have to do is implement them.
You can bet your competitors are going to be following these rules. (Google has made them available for everyone, after all.) Now it’s up to you to do the same.
Start with your Google My Business page. Take a look and see if you’ve left anything critical out. And then fill out the rest.
Need help managing your Google My Business page? Want to make sure nothing gets left out?
Contact SEO Inc. We’re ready to help.