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Google has updated their Improve Local Ranking page to include more information on ranking a local business in their search engine.

Article at a Glance:

  • How Google determines local ranking (using relevance, distance, and prominence)
  • How to improve your local ranking

How Google Determines Local Ranking

Relevance
Relevance, while vague, refers to how well Google feels your business matches the term someone is searching for. Ensuring your profile is completed (with accurate and competent information) will help Google better understand what your business does.

Distance
This one is fairly straightforward, yet unfortunately the most set-in-stone of your ranking factors. Essentially, Google will show businesses where the physical address of the business is closest to the searching user. This is the same whether or not your business travels to customers, they will still show a business with a closer physical address.

Prominence
Prominence refers to how well-known or famous a business is. For example, a famous museum, landmark, or well-known brand will rank higher than mom-and-pop shops. The prominence score is calculated based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (links, news articles, and so on). Online reviews and scores are also factored into this local ranking.

As with other items, outside of their PPC advertising system, there is no way to pay or request for a better local ranking.

How to Improve Local Ranking

The basics of good SEO will still apply to local ranking.
Here are some basic ways to help improve your local ranking, immediately:

  1. Ensure your entire Google+ and Google My Business profile is filled out with accurate and optimized information
  2. Verify your location. This is the process where Google sends a postcard to your business to verify it as an accurate business
  3. Ensure you have good reviews across the web. Aim for 4+ stars on a variety of platforms