How Google determines local rankings

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SEO Search Marketing

As a small business marketing professional le me explain why local ranking is so important to your marketing strategy.

How does Google determine local rankings

Google finds the best results for searches through a combination of factors; most commonly relevance, distance and prominence.

This means that the algorithm may choose a business which is rated higher for what a person is looking for, even if it is further away, by weighing up the pros and cons of each result depending on an individual’s search.

Google Search, Pay Per Click Addvertising


Relevance is proven by Google with a well-written, detailed and informative local business profile, which matches what someone has searched for.

As a small local business, completing your local business profile to a highly detailed standard is essential to help Google understand your business and match your profile to increasing numbers of relevant searches from potential customers.

So, tell Google what you exactly do and where you do it.


Distance tells Google how far each potential result is from the individual search, using the searcher’s location term.

If the location is not specified in the search, Google will use pre-existing data from your accounts or mobile phone to determine your location.

By including a location tag in your business profile, Google can easily pair you with nearby searches.

Location, location, location!!


Prominence is Google’s way of evaluating how well known a business is. As some businesses are more prominent in the real world, away from the digital landscape, Google counteracts this by placing more importance on the distance factor for these businesses.

For example, events and locations such as museum, shop brands or landmarks are more likely to crop up in local search results.

Prominence is also founded on what Google has been told about your business, through a multitude of resources such as links, articles and directories.

The importance of reviews for prominence

For small businesses, the best way to increase your prominence is through reviews, as both the review count and review score factor into Google’s prominence evaluation. Positive reviews increase your businesses local ranking. In addition to this, the more positive reviews a business has, the higher it is likely to appear on web results; making good reviews perfect for SEO practices.


There is no sure fire way to request or pay for a better local ranking on Google, as the search engine aims for transparency with it’s results; making the system as fair as possible for everyone. However, paying attention to how well your business conforms to Google’s relevance, distance and prominence factors will help your business to interact efficiently with the Google algorithm.

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Find out more from Google about local ranking here