The 3 Factors Google Uses to Determine Local Rankings, Explained

A woman in a yellow dress is using her phone on the street while considering Google's local rankings factors.

We’ve written a lot about how to improve your local search, but how well do you know how Google is ranking your local search profiles? The criteria used to assess which local listings are the most relevant to local searchers might surprise you, but understanding how businesses are ranked can help you rank higher as you build your profile. Here’s how it works.

What is local SEO?

When someone searches for a business near them, they’re conducting a local search. These searches can happen on maps apps such as Google or Apple Maps, or they can occur on directory services such as Yelp. 

Google’s Three Local Ranking Factors

When someone submits one of these searches, a number of factors are taken into account using the local search algorithms to determine how to rank the results they see. These factors can be grouped into these three categories. 

  1. Distance. 

Since these are local searches, meaning users are looking for businesses near them, the distance of each business from the searcher is an important factor. This particular factor is one that businesses don’t have any real control over other than making sure their location is accurate and up to date. 

  1. Relevance.

If someone searches for “dermatologists near me,” they don’t want to see hamburger restaurants. Relevance is the metric that ensures they won’t. This factor does help businesses show up when they provide services you might not expect, however. For example, someone looking for botox or filler would still want a dental spa to show up in their search if they also had trained and licensed injectors on staff to provide these services. The best way to make sure your business is being found in relevant searches? Make sure your profiles are as updated and as complete as possible. Include information about every service you provide in your listings, and don’t forget the secondary information about your business itself, such as parking. 

  1. Prominence.

If you’ve ever wondered if your other marketing strategies affected your local search performance, here’s your answer: they do! Prominence is the term Google uses to describe how well-known a business is, and the algorithm does this by taking into account your website (including the sites that are linking to it), reviews, and mentions of your business within your community across the internet. The more of these you have, the more prominent you are considered to the Google algorithm. The best way to increase your prominence is to make sure you’re keeping up with all of your marketing strategies, not just your local search efforts. 

We Can Help

MyAdvice has been helping businesses dial in their local search strategies for more than 20 years. Contact one of our digital marketing experts for a complimentary consultation to see how we can help you grow. 

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