Google is constantly making updates, and it is our job to stay current with those updates. Last year, Google revealed that prominence would be a ranking signal that it would use when determining local SEO rankings. Google also revealed its top three ranking signals for organic search: relevance, distance and prominence.
In addition, Google update the help page for Google My Business. Here, you can find helpful information on improving your local rankings by keeping your business information accurate and complete (especially your address, phone number and category), verifying your business location(s), ensuring your hours of operation are accurate, and managing your customer reviews.
You will also find that it lists how Google will determine your local SEO ranking.
So, how exactly does Google rank businesses for local search?
How well does your listing match what a user would be searching for? This is one of the most important reasons why your business information must be accurate and detailed.
What is your proximity to the individual searching for a particular phrase? Keep in mind that relevant is always the stronger ranking signal. Therefore, if a business is further away from a user’s location, yet it is more likely than not to have what the user is looking for than a business that is located closer, then Google is going to rank the business that is further away higher in the local search results.
In addition, if a searcher fails to identify a specific location, then Google will automatically calculate the distance based on what is known about the user’s location.
How well known is your business?
According to Google, prominence can be defined as follows:
“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.”
In terms of local ranking, the overall organic search presence of your business serves as a ranking factor. Therefore, all of your standard, day-to-day SEO practices that you are doing to give your rankings a boost – both on- and off-page – essentially apply to local.
Google has confirmed that reviews and ratings from your customers are indeed factored into your rankings for local search. Of course, experts have assumed this for quite some time now. In fact, Moz believed that reviews accounted for roughly 8.4 percent of the overall local ranking “pie”. Certainly, though, confirmation is nice.
To sum things up, you need to make sure that your Google my Business information is always accurate and complete and that your location data is accurate. You need to ensure that you are giving your customers a positive experience so that they will leave you positive customer reviews. In addition, you need to be encouraging your customers to leave reviews, as not all customers do so without being asked. You also need to continue using your traditional, day-to-day SEO techniques and tactics, as without them your local rankings could suffer.
When all of this is used together, there is a good chance that you will see a good local ranking. For more information on improving your local SEO ranking, don’t hesitate to reach out to our WebDetail team. We’re happy to share our expertise with you and get your business high in the rankings where it belongs.