How does Google determine my local ranking?

local seo

Google has just updated how it determines your business’s local ranking.

Another week, another step towards Google becoming a damn sight more transparent than we’re used to. If it wasn’t enough that Google revealed its top three ranking signals for organic search last Friday, this Friday it revealed a new ranking signal for local SEOProminence.

As noticed by Mike Blumenthal, and reported by SEJ over the weekend, Google has updated its Google My Business help page.

This resource details how you can improve your local rankings with practical guidance on keeping your business information complete and accurate (physical address, phone number, category), verifying your location(s), keeping your opening hours accurate and managing customer reviews.

It also lists the ways in which Google determines your local ranking…

How Google ranks your business for local search

Relevance

How well does your local listing match what someone is searching for? This is why you business information should always be fully detailed and accurate.

Distance

How close are you to the person searching for a particular term? Bear in mind that relevance will be the stronger signal. If a business is further away from a searcher’s location, but is more likely to have what they’re looking for than a business that’s closer, Google will rank it higher in local results.

Additionally, if a user doesn’t specify a location, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.

And this weekend Google added another…

Prominence

Basically… How well known is your business?

Here’s the exact wording on ‘prominence’ from Google…

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.

Your business’s overall organic search presence is a ranking factor when it comes to local.

So ultimately, all of your regular, everyday SEO practices that you do to boost your rankings, whether on-page or off, apply to local.

Customer reviews

It’s also interesting to note that has Google confirmed that customer reviews and ratings are factored into local search ranking. (Although be warned that there was a ‘probably’ in the original text above.)

Experts always figured this was true anyway. Moz previosly found that review signals are 8.4% of the overall ‘local ranking pie’.

moz-local-ranking1

But again, it’s just nice to get confirmation on these things.

Tl;dr

Accurate and complete Google My Business information + accurate location data + positive customer reviews + traditional SEO tactics = good local ranking (possibly).

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