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Google Updates Details on Improving Local Ranking

In an interesting development from Google – who are usually notoriously coy about releasing detailed information about how to achieve good search rankings – they recently added more details to their help page, named ‘Improve your local ranking on Google’. This provides more insights on how to achieve better visibility with local search results.

As reported in our September 2015 newsletter article ‘Google Changes Local Search Results’, the reduction in the number of listings displayed from 7 to 3 has led to increased competition for those spots. Therefore these recently updated details are welcomed by small business owners and the SEO industry, as any information provided by Google about these factors is always useful.

Google does still do their best to keep the specific details of their search algorithms confidential, to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone. Previously, the help page had about five paragraphs of text around relevance, distance and prominence for ranking in the local results. Now, Google has vastly expanded the document which now covers the newer local ‘3-pack’ results, as well as how to be included in that pack and how the ranking positions are determined.

In terms of these rankings, Google still outlines relevance, distance and prominence, but expands upon each of them. Here is a summary of the key points in the revised content:

  • Relevance – this 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. Relevant terms in a business name can be important but this should still be the correct name for the business, plus selecting the best category/ies and using a good business description can all help.
  • Distance – 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, which tends to be more accurate if on a mobile device.
  • Prominence – this refers to how well-known a business might be. 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).
  • Reviews – having Google reviews, including the number and rating score are factored into local search rankings. More reviews and positive ratings are likely to improve a business’s local ranking. A business website’s position in the main search results can also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimisation.

You can read the updated Google help file here. If you want to know more about how ranking well in a local listing could help to improve your business, contact us now.