When was the last time you searched for your own local business on Google using your target keywords?
Did you make it to the first page of the search results? Was your Google My Business listing featured on the knowledge panel? More importantly, did you see yourself in Google’s 3 Pack?
If you said ‘no’ to these questions, then maybe it’s time to revisit your local SEO strategy and learn about local ranking factors.
Get on the 3-Pack
The Google 3-Pack is a location-based method which the search engine uses to highlight the top 3 SERP results.
For instance, if you search for ‘dental clinics in Sydney’, you’ll usually get served some ads and a 3-pack window will appear before organic search results.
Note that these are not permanent. Just like organic search results, there are several factors that affect and change the arrangement of these results over time. For example, given that these results are location-dependent, the arrangement can vary on where the user conducts the search.
3 Important Local Ranking Factors
Google’s local ranking factors are perfect guides for businesses to boost your chances of making it to the 3-pack and appear on the knowledge graph on SERPs. There are three main factors: Relevance, Distance and Prominence.
Relevance is what it is: it’s one of the local ranking factors that matches what someone is searching for.
For example, if you search for a Chinese restaurant near you, Google won’t add in a French cafe.
To remain relevant in search results, make sure that you have the following optimised:
- GMB description with your target keywords or phrases that customers will most likely use when searching for a product or service
- Primary category
- Accurate NAP with the district, city or region where your business is located – if you have more than one location
We recommend that you use location keywords like ‘Chinese restaurant in Sydney’ or ‘Nail salon near Castle Hill’ to help customers near your business find you faster.
The Distance factor may sound self-explanatory but we want to clear it out further. At its most basic point, it’s a local ranking factor that checks how far each potential search result is from a customer. If they don’t indicate a specific location, then Google will produce results around the customer’s location.
So let’s say that you are looking, once again, for Chinese food but you don’t mention you’re in a suburb such as Bondi Junction. Google will calculate your proximity to establishments within your location and will conduct the search for you. You certainly won’t find results near Parramatta unless you indicate that you are looking for a Chinese restaurant in that area.
Google will also take into account the mode of transportation a customer will use – be it by foot, by car, train or plane.
Remember to always use location-based keywords on your GMB description and ensure that your address is complete and updated.
This is the most complex local ranking factor but it is not exactly esoteric knowledge.
We remember big brands because of several reasons: heritage (how long they’ve been in business), quality of product or service and longtime positive customer engagement. They’ve been top of mind and are household names since we were old enough to talk. That’s how good their marketing is. They understand the idea of prominence even before that was a thing.
This is one legacy of offline marketing that we can take notes from and translate it to online marketing.
Competing on the digital realm is tough, especially in industries where the market is so saturated that it’s difficult to determine if your business will thrive. With the prominence local ranking factor and a fully optimised Google My Business listing, however, things will be easier.
According to Google, there are several criteria that businesses can meet to ensure consistent online visibility. These are:
- Google reviews – the more quality reviews you have, the better. We have a blog about getting quality reviews.
- Less time between reviews – A brand with reviews coming in on a regular basis will rank higher than a listing that gets sporadic reviews
- GMB photos – same as reviews: the more quality photos you have of your business, the better.
- Accurate NAP, categories, business hours and other details – aim for consistency: if your business information is consistent and accurate across all your listings on online directories, Google will rank you higher on search results.
- Regularly publishing GMB Posts – we’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: Google Posts are an essential feature in Google My Business. The more you publish GMB posts, the higher you rank.
The overarching theme in the Prominence ranking factor is a balance of quantity and quality because the adage ‘more is better’ is important in maintaining high rankings in SERPs. While Prominence may sound daunting, it’s actually where you have the most control over, as compared to Distance and Relevance.
We can never stress enough how powerful an optimised Google My Business listing is for Map and Search results. If you haven’t done so yet, we do recommend you do a full location audit on our Platform.
The DigitalMaas Platform has been recently updated to give you even more insights to improve your listing.
Pair this up with Google’s local ranking factors and you can boost your chances of showing up on the first page of search results and even appear on the 3-Pack.