Google has updated its help page on local ranking factors quite significantly, as first noticed by Mike Blumenthal in April. Now included for the first time are specific guidelines on how businesses can increase their chances of being found by online searchers in Google Maps on mobile and desktop. Alongside the news of the recent release of the Google My Business API, this reinforces Googles recent focus on providing business owners with the tools and clear guidelines to manage listings more effectively.
Local Ranking Factors Revealed by Google
There is some chatter from Google users saying the page is significantly re-worded and much clearer more than hugely changed.
According to Google, local searches are now based on three things, relevance, distance and prominence.
“Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.”
“Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.”
“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 that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results”.
Google also goes on to point out that the information Google has about a business, like links, articles and directories, will also have an effect on prominence, so best practices regarding local search optimisation also apply.
Google also makes clear; “There’s no way to request or pay for a better local ranking on Google. We do our best to keep the details of the search algorithm confidential to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone.”