Maximizing Your Results from Google’s Local Search Algorithms

     

Published: September 21, 2020

Google’s local search algorithm has been steadily improving over the last few years to help searchers connect with businesses that are not only a good fit for what they are looking for, but also nearby. Much of the work that Google has invested in their local search algorithm had to do with proximity, or where the searcher is physically located in the moment of the search in relation to the location of the business. Still, there are two more important factors to consider when working to improve your results from Google’s local search.

Proximity

We’ll start with proximity as it’s likely to be the most obvious factor when working to improve your rankings in a local Google search. The other two elements will only apply if you’ve managed to land on the radar and need to compete with the other businesses that did as well. To understand how Google determines a person’s proximity, we first have to look at how Google determines where that person is. For desktop computer users, zip codes are generally what is used. For mobile devices, however, more detailed information tends to be available based on geo coordinates.

This difference—and the difference users experience just by moving around throughout their day—can significantly affect their search results. For example, if someone is looking for a place to grab a bite for dinner near their house, but they’re searching from their office or a mobile device with location services enabled, they will probably provide their home zip code in the search or click into the map view and start zooming around. For this reason, an establishment’s rank in local results can be somewhat fluid, but it illustrates the importance of having accurate location data in your Google My Business profile and on your website.

Prominence

Google uses several factors to determine your business’s prominence, or how important you are in relation to other companies in the same industry and location. For example, if your physical store location gets a lot of foot traffic from visiting customers, it is more likely to rank higher for local searchers using Google.

Improve Your Results From Google's Local Search

Citations are another factor that influences your prominence, and most of us probably think of citations as mentions. If your business name, address, or phone number is mentioned on another website or app, or if customers mention or link to your pages on social media sites (i.e., check in to your store on Facebook or tag your business in an Instagram post), that would be a citation. Having your establishment listed with local business listings such as chamber of commerce websites or professional associations are another way to build citations.

Lastly, reviews are another important way to establish prominence as well as being a critical factor for reputation management, too. Businesses with a lot of reviews—especially a cache of reviews that date back a few years—demonstrate that they are prominent in the neighborhood. Plus, most customers will check your reviews before heading over so it is always a good practice to encourage reviews, and then thank those who left positive ones and manage those who were not as happy.

Relevance

Relevance is vital to any Google ranking factor, not just a local Google search, as it’s a measure of how well Google thinks you will solve the problem or complete the task the user intended with their search. To help improve your relevance, start by making sure your website contains lots of content that covers the topics users will search for, and that it is well-structured and easy to navigate. It’s also important to make sure your website SEO is on point.

Google Local Search

Once your website is squared away, there are a few other places to check to make sure you’re sending the right relevance signals. For example, your Google My Business categories play an essential part and should be updated regularly. Google currently offers close to 4000 categories from which you can choose one primary and up to ten others. This list is frequently changed, so be sure to check in from time to time and see if you can do better than your current selections or that a previous selection was not removed from the list.

Google also uses the content of reviews left on sites like Yelp. While you don’t have direct control over the words customers choose to use in their reviews, always doing your best to encourage positive, detailed reviews will help, and taking the time to address complaints is just good business. Lastly, your business name will also factor in your relevance, but it might not be something you’re able to change as an established company.

Getting Results from Google Local Search

Getting the best results means making sure you have all three factors optimized as well as possible. While proximity might be one of the most clear-cut factors (if you’re a fine-dining restaurant in Iowa, you’re not going to rank highly for people in New York City no matter what you do), once that playing field is leveled, the other factors become more important. If you’re looking to improve your Google local search ranking or expand the radius in which you appear, boosting your prominence and relevance is the course of action.

If you’re struggling with your local search rankings or unsure where to start, we can help! Our methods are proven to help local businesses get found by more people and get more paying customers in the door. Call to get started today.

Sources:

https://searchengineland.com/heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-googles-newest-algorithm-update-possum-2-0-324927

https://moz.com/blog/how-does-the-local-algorithm-work

https://moz.com/learn/seo/local-citations


Categories: Search Engine Optimization
Tags: Google local search
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