Conduct an Internet search for “ local search ranking factors ” and you will get page after page of search results that can provide you with a specific list of items that each author specifically claims effect local search ranking on search results pages. These lists vary in length but generally are very similar in content. Since none of the big search engines disclose exactly how their specific local ranking logarithms work, the lists have been generally created by search engine optimization experts using their own experience, knowledge and software to analyze local results pages.
While these lists are very informative, they generally make ranking on local search results pages sound very complicated and complex. The reality for people selling products and services locally is that ranking locally on local search results pages isn’t that complicated.
Three Local Search Ranking Factors
Even though the big search engines keep the specifics of their proprietary ranking formulas closely guarded secrets, they do provide us simple, plain language guidelines for ranking locally on search results pages. For example: Googles own page “ranking of local search results on Google” clearly states the three factors it uses to rank local search results:
The reality is that this makes perfect sense. Search engines want to display the most accurate and useful information they can to their users. As a local consumer you wouldn’t intentionally drive a long way to shop at a store that you knew didn’t sell what you were looking for or that sold inferior products. Nor would you intentionally buy a product or service that had a high price from a vendor with a terrible reputation.
Search engines want to make you happy. They don’t want to provide their users irrelevant or “bad” information. They want you to be able to use their services to quickly and easily find exactly what you are looking for and to ultimately be satisfied with your purchase from the vendor you found online.
How to Rank Locally
So what must people and businesses do to rank locally on search results pages? Google states very clearly what they use to help determine relevance, distance and prominence for determining the ranking of search results on local search results pages.
Google summarizes the 3 ranking factors for us:
“Relevance: Relevance is how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help us better understand your business and match you to relevant search results.”
The term “local listing” refers to local business directory listings and the “detailed business information” refers to all the information that can be attached to those local business listings today.
”Distance: Just like it sounds — how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If you don’t specify a location in your search, we’ll calculate distance based on what we know about your location.”
In other words, your name, address and phone number are critically important to search results today. Business directory listings display your location and provide the search engines an important way to filter and rank results.
“Prominence: This describes how well-known or prominent a business can be. This is based on information we have about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories).”
The more business directory listings you have, the more prominent you are. Most business directories enable linking to your landing page or website and the opportunity to provide a detailed description of who you are and what you do. Read more about why your local business listing is so important here.
The bottom line; to rank locally on search results pages you need to list your business, then use and manage your business listing on as many local online business directories as possible.