So what criteria does Google use to award high local rank? Because Google keeps its algorithms a secret, it’s a tricky question to answer but common sense tells us that Google is trying to provide reliable results to search queries, and certain factors influence the chances of being offered as a search engine result.
Whether your profile is offered as a result in any given search boils down primarily to just three criteria: distance, relevance, and prominence. Combining these criteria lead to a ranking in the search results.
Distance from the coordinates of the search
If you googled “coffee shop” from a street corner in Columbus, Ohio, you wouldn’t want to scroll through results that include Miami, Ontario, and Chattanooga. Fortunately, even when the searcher doesn’t specify his location, Google calculates distances based on GPS coordinates (or last known location). Then Google uses the searcher’s location to give handy, local results.
Relevance to the search request
If a user googled “tennis pro shop” then a 100% match in relevance would be a shop called “Tennis Pro Sporting Shop” in the category of sporting goods with a description and products matching tennis. A somewhat less relevant offering might be a local sporting goods store without emphasis on tennis. Interestingly, if you reverse-engineer the idea of relevance, describing your business accurately brings the most relevant consumers, too.
Prominence of the business
Prominence refers to the popularity and identifiability of a business both online and off. The more well known an entity is the more likely it is to be offered as a search result. Yellowstone National Park will get more ranking power than John’s Backyard Park, regardless of John’s SEO prowess.
Offline prominence is determined by the size of the company, and how well known it is. Online prominence for determining local rating comes from the national SEO factors of the site, like page authority, backlinks, review count, social media, and directory listings. All things being equal, the site with better organic SEO will win in the category of prominence and receive a favorable search engine rank.
Ways to boost your local ranking in Google
Primarily the best bang for the buck is to optimize your Google My Business listing (a.k.a. the map listing). The local map listing looks like this:
It’s up at the top of the search results where more and more users are relying on the quick recommendation of the map to find phone numbers and driving directions to area businesses.
Here are the top 5 things you can initiate today to get better scored by Google Local
1. Verify your location
Google probably used search information to create a Google My Business profile for you. Make sure you set up profiles for multiple locations (if you have multiple addresses). Google creates a virtual fence around your business. At the center of the fence is your physical address, so make sure you’ve verified it. Your business will be delivered as both a search and a map listing.
2. Have a complete profile
Remember, Google is trying to respond to a search request with the most relevant data possible. Businesses completed information, including address, phone number, business hours, category, and product pictures or info are just easier to match up with consumer requests.
Note: It’s important to keep your profile information up-to-date. Your profile is a representation of the business, so accuracy is a must.
3. Keep accurate business hours
Your Google business profile lists your hours. There’s nothing worse for a consumer than going to the bother of searching you, driving to your location, and finding that your storefront is locked. Google gives consumers the opportunity to verify that all that information on your profile is correct. Imagine how excited Google will be to display your profile if they get constant feedback that your information is inaccurate? We can guess that the answer is—not very excited to display and rank you.
Note: If you have special holiday hours, make sure to list them.
4. Add photos to your listing
Photos work as ranking fuel on lots of levels. Photos answer more questions than words. In fact, (while often misquoted), Fred Barnard said in 1927, “A picture’s worth ten thousand words.” Searchers can see your storefront, your facility, your products, and even the cross streets of your location.
Plus, photos carry names that can offer keywords to your listing. In addition, Google gives ranking priority to profiles that show quality activity. By adding pictures, you are showing signs of good housekeeping. Points for effort.
Note: It’s best to use current pictures and better to add a few pictures regularly than upload gobs of photos all at once.
5. Solicit and respond to reviews
Of course, positive reviews are best, and lots are better than few, but reviews are a chance to correspond and show Google (and the consumers) that you are attentive, thorough, and prompt. Google likes to see your interaction and consumers do, too.
Note: There are special links you can use, which make reviewing easier for your consumers. Ask us about a 5-star review link.
Be a marketing Titan:
✓ Verify your listing with Google My Business (GMB)
✓ Include a complete, up-to-date profile
✓ Keep accurate business hours, noting any special hours
✓ Upload current photos to your listing
✓ Interact with your customers by responding to reviews
✓ If you’re not sure your GMB profile is optimized, call Titan for a complimentary expert analysis.
Esteban Rodriguez is a lover of Rock music, Latin food, and fantasy football. Having earned a Bachelor’s in Mass Communication and Journalism degree from the University of Southern Florida, he is a talented writer, photographer, or videographer. In his free time, Esteban enjoys playing video games, cooking, spending time with his son, and playing a sick air guitar.