As a result of Google removing ads from the "right rail", we recently wrote about why businesses need to focus on appearing in local pack results. Google appears to agree with our approach, because this past Friday they updated their Google My Business (GMB) help page with a new post, "Improving your local ranking on Google."
- Enter complete data – and make sure to keep this information up to date
- Verify your location(s)
- Keep your hours accurate – including holidays and special events
- Manage and respond to reviews
- Add photos
And it confirms something we've all known since Google's "Pigeon Update" – that a business's local ranking can be influenced by the information in its GMB listing.
In terms of "How Google determines local ranking", the GMB help article continues to state that "local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence."
Relevance: "refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches."
Distance: "…how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn't specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what's known about their location."
Prominence: "…Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web…Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization."
Pay close attention to that last section on 'Prominence'. Google is stating that while GMB listings are an important factor in local ranking, they're not the only factor. Thus businesses must continue to make sure that their citations are 100% accurate across the web.
In order to provide the best possible search experience, Google continues to push for more and better local content from businesses. Regardless of future Google algorithm updates, investing in high quality, unique, and locally relevant content will help ensure that businesses can compete in the local pack.
To learn more about Google's recent removal of right rail ads, and what this means for the local search industry at large, you can download Yext's whitepaper by clicking here.