The Big Three of Local Ranking: Relevance, Distance, Prominence
Whenever you do a search for local businesses, Google returns a group of three results known as the local pack or local 3 pack. These results appear at the top of the page above organic results and either above or below paid results depending on the specific search terms. The goal of improving your local SEO is to make sure your business appears in the local pack.
The local pack includes some important at-a-glance information about your business. This includes your most basic contact information including your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). Additional information such as your business hours and star rating based on Google reviews can also be displayed. You may find other information is displayed for different industries. For example, restaurants may give information on whether they offer dine-in or carry-out options. Below you will see a typical local 3 pack for the search term “pizza.”
Why is visibility in the local pack so important? According to a study by SEOClarity, the local pack is displayed in the top position in 93% of Google search results. By landing in the local pack, this makes your business the first thing a potential customer sees in 9 out of 10 search results. Equally as important, Google shows that 76% of people who do a local search on their mobile device will contact a business within 24 hours. 28% of those searches result in a consumer making a purchase.
How Does Google Determine Local Ranking?
There are three primary factors that Google focuses on when determining who makes it into the local 3 pack which are relevance, distance, and prominence.
Relevance is how well your local business profile matches the search that a user makes. To ensure you are appearing in the local pack for searches related to your business, it is important to accurately complete your Google My Business information. This includes:
- Phone number
- Business name
- Physical address
- Business categories
- Business hours
It is also important to verify your location and to manage and respond to reviews left on Google. All these things give users confidence that you will be open and available when needed.
Distance is how far you are from a specified search location or from a searcher’s current location if one is not specified. Of course, there is not anything you can do to change your physical distance from a search location, but it is important to know how certain search terms can cause Google to place more weight on the distance factor. For example, you can see below how the results change when you add “near me” to the search conducted earlier. In the original search, Capri Pizza and Grill may have appeared due to having a higher prominence factor. However, when placing more focus on distance, Giant New York Pizza was favored.
Prominence is a combination of factors that equate to how well known a business is. Google gathers information about a business from various places such as your own website, online directories, articles, and links to evaluate prominence. Additionally, prominence is affected strongly by the number of reviews you have and the positivity of those reviews. The organic placement of your website will also have an impact so be sure to keep your website updated and you adhere to SEO best practices. Maintaining accurate business information across as many online directories as possible is also important for helping Google understand your business. Inaccuracies can lead to confusion and difficulty evaluating the information that is available about your business.
Local SEO is more important than ever and as more searches are being done on mobile devices year after year, it will only become more impactful. If you are not ending up in the local 3 pack, it is time to take action. Take a look at your Google My Business page and determine if you are providing the most accurate information about your business. If changes need to be made, do not hesitate to make them. Work on gathering as many positive reviews as you can. Be sure to monitor and respond to new reviews as they come in to inspire confidence in potential customers. Stay on top of these things to ensure you work your way into the local pack and your business is seen.