How Google Ranks Local Websites

If you own a local business, understanding how Google decides which websites to show for local searches is critical. When someone searches for something like “plumber near me” or “best Italian restaurants in Detroit”, Google uses a complex system to determine the most relevant results. Here’s a breakdown of the key factors:

1. Relevance

  • Keywords: Does your website include the keywords and phrases people are searching for? Naturally include terms like “AC repair [city name]” within your content.
  • Content: Your website should provide valuable information related to the services you offer and the locations you serve.
  • Google Business Profile: A complete and accurate Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is a major relevance signal for local searches.

2. Distance

  • Your Location: Where your business is physically located matters. Google uses GPS data, a user’s search terms, and your Google Business Profile listing to understand your location.
  • Searcher’s Location: If a user doesn’t specify a location, Google will use their approximate whereabouts to deliver relevant results.

3. Prominence

  • Reviews: Positive reviews and high ratings on Google, Yelp, and other platforms tell Google your business is well-received and trustworthy.
  • Links: Does your website have links from other reputable websites? These act as “votes of confidence” for your site.
  • Offline Presence: Google considers your business’s overall reputation and presence in the real world too.

How to Improve Your Website’s Local Relevance

  1. Optimize Content: Use local keywords and write content tailored to the questions your local customers ask.
  2. Claim Your Listing: Claim and verify your Google Business Profile. Fill it out completely.
  3. Build Citations: Submit your business to high-quality directories. Ensure name, address, and phone number are consistent everywhere.
  4. Encourage Reviews: Proactively ask satisfied customers to leave online reviews.

Key Takeaways

Local SEO is an ongoing process. By focusing on relevance, distance, and prominence, you can increase your website’s chances of ranking high in local Google searches and attracting more customers in your area.