How does the Google local algorithm work?

Google’s algorithm determines what surfaces from search results for a given query, often producing unexpected or false information. When someone conducts a search for local businesses, they’re presented with multiple factors seemingly out of reach to the classic ranking algorithm. 

The Google local algorithm relies on three key things:

  1. Relevance – Does the website promote itself effectively in relation to the search query?
  2. Prominence – Are trust issues being surfaced in the business?
  3. Proximity – is the business nearby to the searcher?

Let’s delve into these ideas in a bit more detail.

Relevance

Relevance is a key factor in Google’s local algorithm, and relevance factors into the standard SEO algorithm too.

Google wants to provide relevant results, and it will be doing its job incorrectly if irrelevant results are surfaced.

In order to ensure that a search engine, such as Google, views your business as relevant enough to surface in search results, you’ll want to make sure you’re targeting keywords or topics with known customer interest.

For example, if you run a pizza place in New York, you want to make sure that Google relates your business to keywords such as ‘pizza New York’, ‘best pizza’, or maybe even ‘cheap pizza New York’ if that’s your USP. 

You can inform Google of your business’s relevance through tactics like:

  1. Selecting the correct category for your business on directories
  2. Including your business’s keywords in descriptions and in content
  3. Creating relevant content to your business’s expertise 
  4. Using title tags and meta descriptions
  5. Schema markup
  6. Getting links from local and industry-relevant websites 

Though these tips may seem daunting at first, keep in mind that they can be gradually incorporated into your strategy over time to ensure your success. — we’ll cover most of them in this guide. And if you follow the steps laid out here today, Google will be provided with plenty of signals to trust your business as relevant.

Prominence:

Whenever you are designing your company’s marketing strategy, remember to consider how well it stands out from the rest.

Here, you’re trying to prove that Google can trust your business – trust that its information is accurate and trustworthy. The more Google and other search engines can find and validate you online, the better.

Brands that are more prominent online seem to be considered more credible and trustworthy by Google.

Google knows how to find data from all over the web and is one of the most powerful search engines in existence. Search engines rank any brands that appear on the internet based on how prominent those brands are. If it can’t find you or there aren’t enough ranking signals, you’re likely to rank lower.

The following tips will help you build up and maintain your business’s prominence.

Prominence can be demonstrated in a few ways:

  1. Building (local) links
  2. Creating and sharing relevant content and articles
  3. Getting listed in directories
  4. Building up more mentions of your business online
  5. Developing a strong reviews profile
  6. Having active social media platforms (verified, if possible!)
  7. Being mentioned by local media or government sites

We’ll be discussing the importance of a strong online presence for your business and providing you with ways to build a strong Web presence.

Prominence:

Now that we know the company is relevant to the user’s search query and has a strong prominence, let’s take a look at our last ranking factor: proximity.

When performing a local search, proximity is key for relevance. When you’re driving and looking for a restaurant, Google should know that the results are based on your location and not some other town over.

Local SEO is most important because proximity is a uniquely local ranking factor – online eCommerce sites do not need to be within close range of your home in order for you to buy from them.

There are three kinds of local searches a user can perform; non-geo modified, geo modified, and ‘near me.’ To promote your proximity to Google, you should always optimize for the different ways users are searching.