Have you ever been in a city you’re not too familiar with, it’s an hour past when you would normally eat, and you just want to find a great place to sit down and eat? I have. Fortunately, Google usually comes to the rescue. With a quick “restaurants near me” search, I can filter it to my current craving, look at the many restaurants’ ratings and reviews, and select one that’s only a quick drive from my current location. Google’s local search algorithm is pretty good at providing users with many near-by options relevant to their search, but how do businesses make the cut, and what determines who’s at the top?

How does Google determine local ranking?

Google determines local rankings from three things: relevance, distance, and prominence. Relevance is how well your business listing matches what someone searched. Distance is how far your business is from the location specified on the search or the user’s location if location permissions are on. Prominence looks at how well-known your business is. For instance, well-known stores, historical locations, or famous buildings would be considered prominent.

Google My Business & Bing Places for Business

One of the most important things you can do to improve your local search rankings is to claim your business in Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. Claiming your business is fairly simple (and free) and doing so will put your business on the map…literally. When you claim your business in Google and Bing, be sure to fill in as much information as possible and be completely accurate. You want to make sure the information given to each platform is consistent. The information you provide will be used to determine the relevance of your business for search results. This includes your business’ address, hours, website, phone number, and more.

To learn more on how to claim your business in Google My Business, go here.

To get started on claiming your business in Bing Places for Business, go here.

Online Reviews

Online reviews play a huge role in not only your search rankings, but in building trust and credibility with potential customers. BIA/Kelsey reports that 97% of people read local business’ reviews and 89% of people read the business’ responses to those reviews. In a study done by Zendesk, they found that the majority of people who read online reviews say the reviews influence their purchasing decisions. Just like reviews can impact your decision to go to a business or not, reviews affect your business’ local search rankings too. You may be wondering, “How do I get reviews?” Just ask. Most of the time, someone will leave you a review if you ask.

Organic SEO

Your business listing and reviews alone won’t always get you to the top of the local search results. You must do well with your organic SEO as well. This means your website needs to be optimized for local. Your website should have your address listed, and you should have the city you serve on your site a few times, where relevant. If you have multiple locations, create a specific location page for each one with unique and relevant content for each location. You can also improve your local rankings by posting content on your site that is related to local events and news. For instance, your town is having a festival in a few weeks, so you decide to make this week’s blog post about how your business will be playing a part in the festival or will be doing a special promotion the weekend of the festival.

Need help finding more ways to improve your local search rankings? Contact us and we’d be happy to help you move up in your local search results.

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