Prominence to Be a Factor in Determining Local SEO Rankings
Google just updated its document on local search engine ranking signals to add more traditional ranking methods to be used in organic search including articles, links & overall position in search engine results.
local businesses can be more prominent offline than over the web and local search engine results must take this into consideration.
According to Google, they are including these new ranking elements because local businesses can be more prominent offline than over the web and local search engine results must take this into consideration. Proximity along with relevance will still play a decisive role when it comes to local search engine rankings.
Prominence– If you’re a big offline business that has little or nothing to do with the online world and it always peeved you off that Google’s ignored your heritage, this is for you. Google will now try to take into account how prominent your business is offline as well as online. They will use a variety of ways to determine this including an analysis of your business mentions historically across publications, articles, public forums and similar places on the web. Google has large amounts of data through which they could theoretically figure out how prominent your business was previously or even is now.
Distance– Google will now favor businesses which are closer to the location of the user who makes the search. We have all observed this already happening, just that now Google’s saying it out loud.
Relevance– Google wants to offer the best possible search engine experience to its end user, hence they’ll favor the listing that best suits the user intent based on the users interests, previous searches and such
Another takeaway from this is that the search engine ranking of your website may now also impact the rankings of your Google My Business listing in local-search-results. But there is a catch of course, the Google machine runs on data, math and science and primarily data because all the math and science cannot figure out if a place is/was popular if there’s no mentions of it anywhere, anytime. And many a time it would just be guessing because the data set would just not be sufficient.
Google+ account no longer mandatory to leave reviews on Google
Thanks to the latest update made by Google, it’s become easier than ever for the users to leave their feedback on various products and services without signing into their Google plus account. A Google account is still necessary, but a Google plus account is not.
This might possibly be an advantage to local businesses resulting in significant rise in the number of reviews left on Google. Also, it would help local businesses improve their website rankings as the overall feedback counts & score are amongst the major factors in local search. Reviews will still not be anonymous as the user’s first & last name would still appear along with the review.
Mike Blumenthal further points out, that with the latest update Google also has precisely eliminated a few major flaws to the entry. People can now leave reviews using a mobile browser to businesses that don’t have any reviews to start with.
As with any big change that effects the search engine algorithm- as more and more reviews pour in, the affect on rankings will tend to reduce. “Early bird catches the worm” is definitely the case in this scenario.
Enterprising business owners should look to build quality review handouts & encourage their customers to review them on Google.
Enterprising local business owners should look to build quality review handouts and encourage their customers to review them on Google. Reviews have always been a contributing factor to search rankings but good reviews will also lead to more concrete business leads as consumers trust both Google and reviews unequivocally. New and upcoming businesses should also try to take advantage of this by ensuring their businesses are listed with all the fields set up correctly including business hours.