With the onset of smartphones and constant digital connection, ranking higher on Google and other search engines is a top priority for most business owners. But in order to improve local search results, it is imperative to understand how search engines like Google use business information to rank and serve local results.
While there are many factors that influence local search results, there are three specific components that weigh the heaviest: relevance, distance, and prominence.
Let’s break down exactly how search engines like Google use relevance, distance, and prominence to compile, rank, and serve local search results.
According to Google, “relevance refers to how well a local (Google) Business Profile matches what someone is searching for.”
Well, that’s simple enough: search engines want to show you things that are the most relevant to your search. Making sure your Google Business Profile is up to date and that your business categories (yes, you can have more than one) are accurate.
Categories and detailed business information helps Google understand your business in order to serve it to the right audience.
Like relevance, distance is a straightforward concept. Google says distance “considers how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search” based on what it knows about a user’s location. Put more simply, search engines serve local results that are close to you.
That means, that if you search “food near me” at different places around your hometown, the results you see can and should be different depending on how many competitive businesses exist there.
Lastly, there is prominence, and it’s the only factor of the three that could be seen as subjective – and therefore can be a little murky.
Here’s what Google says: “Prominence refers to how well known a business is. 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 are also likely to be prominent in local search results.”
But it isn’t just about overall brand awareness, prominence is also valued using all available resources available online such as links, articles and blogs, listings, and reviews.
“Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’ local ranking,” according to Google.
Google ranking systems are designed to sort through billions of webpages and find the “most relevant, useful results” in a fraction of a second. And though the ranking systems are made up of a whole series of algorithms, the three that have the biggest pull are relevance, distance, and prominence.
If you have a business struggling to rank higher on search engines, try thoroughly filling out your Google Business Profile. Use any relevant information to your business, including images and services. Always ask your happy customers for Google reviews. Even explain how reviews impact how well your business can be found online.
And if that doesn’t work or you just don’t have the time, contact a digital marketing partner like TMS+ to improve your brand and its local rankings on search engines.