The search quality ranking guidelines wasn’t the only Google document to get updated recently.
Google has augmented its “Improve your local ranking on Google” help page. With it comes more information on the local ranking factors: Relevance, Distance, and Prominence. The updated document also contains specific steps you can take to help your business show up in the local three pack.
For the burgeoning local business, you had better take note. Executing the information on this page correctly is the key to showing up on Google’s search results.
Now let’s get on with the document.
The Three Main Local Ranking Factors
First let’s start with the main local ranking factors: Relevance, Distance, and Prominence. Google’s search algorithms consider these critical to helping users find the right local business, so you’d be wise to take note.
“Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.”
You should know by now how incredibly important it is to have your most up-to-date information filled out. How else do you expect users to see your business when they whip out their smartphones to search for what’s nearby? Filling out your business’s information on Google My Business will allow users to learn everything about you. From there, they’ll be able to see the best time for them to drop by.
“Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.”
Those spontaneous moments when friends are out and about, and someone gets the bright idea to Google where the nearest restaurant/shop/etc. is—those are the moments that matter most for local businesses. Users can look up “pizza shop in San Diego,” or even just “pizza shop.” Google will then show them results near the location they stated—“San Diego” in the above example. Or, if they didn’t provide a location, the algorithms will search based on the information they do have.
“Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results.
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.
There’s no way to request or pay for a better local ranking on Google. We do our best to keep the details of the search algorithm confidential to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone.”
Getting people to notice your business in the real world is tough enough. But that’s why Google is telling you just how to make your business Prominent online. Getting people to not only talk about your brand, but to describe their positive experiences with it, can increase your local rankings.
This section is also where search engine optimization best practices come into play. Building healthy links and publishing high quality content to other relevant sites helps build Prominence. But other SEO factors are important as well. Utilizing your money keywords and doubling down on your on-site optimization, as well as improving things on the backend, are all part of SEO best practices.
The New Stuff: “Update Your Data, Get Ranked”
Now onto what’s new. Google recommends you “have as much data as possible about your local business in Google My Business.” We’re talking physical address, phone number, and what category your business falls under. To have a chance to show up in Google’s Local 3-pack, you need to do the following:
- Verify your location – You can do this by postcard, phone, or if you’re lucky, instantly
- Keep your hours accurate – Opening hours, holiday hours, etc.
- Manage and respond to reviews – Shows that you value your customers, can increase visibility
- Add photos – Show off goods/services, and provide point of reference of your location
Follow these steps and be sure to fill out all your business information to make the most of both old and new local Google search ranking factors. You’ll not only be meeting all the requirements of Relevance, Distance, and Prominence, but you’ll be doing your part to ensure your customers know everything they need to pay you a visit and make a purchase.