When you do a local search for your business, where is it ranked?  If it is not at the top of search results or not showing at all, there are steps you can take today to start to change that.  Look at the listed local SEO ranking factors for areas where you can make immediate improvements.

local SEO ranking factors

Getting the exposure for your business that comes with ranking first page in search results can be a game changer for small businesses. As Google moved to the smaller local 3-pack, getting to the top of local search results has become harder and more important.

According to Google, local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence.  They rely heavily on the information in verified Google My Business listings, but also consider all the data that makes up your business’s digital footprint such as links, business listings, citations, website authority, and reviews.  Combined these factors find the best results for local searches on their search engines.


Local SEO Ranking Factors

When someone goes onto a search engine with the intent of doing a local search, it triggers a different behavior than a search such as “Siamese twin gymnastics.”  Search engines treat searches with local intent differently because they want to give you the information you need right now to make decisions.  The following local SEO ranking factors have been shown to greatly affect how high your business shows up in those local search results.

Relevance & Prominence

Relevance is how well a business listing matches what someone is searching for when they do a local search.  Prominence refers to how well-known a business is.  Being known offline helps places such as famous museums and well-known department stores show high in search when relevant.  For a local business, Google looks at information from across the web such as links and directories.  The number of reviews and ratings are also a factor in how a business’s prominence is graded.  Ranking high organically in web results is another factor, so don’t abandon your comprehensive SEO strategies.

ALSO READ: 3 Ways Customer Reviews Improve SEO

Proximity & “Near Me” Searches

Proximity is how near or far something is from another thing.  In this case how far each business in search results is from the searcher.  The “near me” search is very popular but searches with a local indicator work with proximity as well.  When the searcher does not specify their location in the search terms, Google just calculates the proximity based on what information they do have on the searcher’s location.

Optimized Google My Business Listings

The Google search engine relies on its Google My Business listings to provide the most relevant search results.  Optimizing your Google My Business listing for local search results ensures that Google has all the accurate information it needs to show your business as a highly relevant search result in the proximity of the searcher.

A business with no Google My Business listing will not appear in the local 3-pack, and it is rare that an unlisted business will rank the first page of local search results. Proximity doesn’t trump other local SEO ranking factors when search engine users do a local search.  For example, the closest dry cleaner does not automatically appear first and may not appear at all if they haven’t optimized for search.  Using Google’s current algorithms, search results could show a location further away that is more likely to have what the searcher is looking for and rank it higher in local search results than the dry cleaners down the street.


Here is a Quick Google My Business Optimization Checklist:

[  ] Verify your Google My Business Listing

[  ] Verify and manually correct your business location pins on Google Maps

[  ] Completely fill in your business listing – especially categories!

[  ] Keep your hours up-to-date throughout seasons and holidays

[  ] Consistently gather positive reviews and respond to reviews

[  ] Add photos of your products and services to your listing

ALSO READ: How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

If you want a chance at showing up in local search results, you cannot neglect your Google My Business listing.  Earning enough reviews to have a five-star rating show up next to your high ranking business listing ensures your business is picked over the competition.

local-seo-ranking-factors-visit-store-nearNot Showing in Local Search Results?  Work on These Local SEO Ranking Factors

Google isn’t trying to make this hard for you.  Just like you, they want to provide the best product to their customers, and their customers are search engine users.  To rank high in search results, you need to let Google know that your business is the most relevant and prominent near their search users.

ALSO READ: Local SEO Checklist – 9 Basic Tips to Be Found in Local Search

With smaller marketing and advertising budgets than larger competitors, organically ranking high and showing up as a relevant choice when customers are searching for what you are selling can be the main path of growth for a local business.  Knowing the current local SEO ranking factors lets you create an actionable SEO plan that differentiates you from the competition.


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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.