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5 Important Google Business Profile Ranking Factors

Learn how to optimize your multi-location brand’s GMB listings to rank higher in Google’s Local Pack and local organic search results.

Trying to figure out how Google works can be a little like stepping through the back of a wardrobe into Narnia. It’s a world of its own that’s constantly evolving, keeping digital marketers on their toes!

While the world of search can feel magical, there’s a science behind Google’s ranking algorithm — including local search.

Why local search? Well, we know that Google aims to help consumers find answers to their questions. With 34 billion searches per month in the U.S. and more than half of them showing local intent, sharing accurate, local answers for consumers is incredibly important to Google.

Where to buy and near me mobile searches have grown 200% in the past two years. Think With Google

High consumer interest in local search means multi-location brands need to appear in local organic search results and Google’s Local Pack to drive the most clicks and calls possible.

Screenshots compling google local pack example

Google Local Pack: Also known as the Google Map Pack or the Google 3 Pack, these map results appear at the top of a SERP and shows three relevant businesses within the searcher’s proximity. Studies vary, but the Google Local Pack drives 15 – 30% of clicks from a SERP when you exclude searches that result in zero clicks.

How exactly can you optimize your multi-location brand for the Local Pack? Only Google knows for sure, but experts suggest that you focus on Google My Business.

Google My Business is THE Number One Ranking Factor for the Local Pack

According to Whitespark’s 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, GMB signals are the most important ranking factor to Google’s Local Pack and have been on the rise for several years.

Local pack pie chart

changes over time bar graph

It makes sense. GMB is a product Google prefers over other listing aggregators. Additionally, Google owns nearly 90% of the search engine market share in the U.S., making it THE source of truth for business listings.

So how can a multi-location brick and mortar business shine in the Local Pack? The good news: as a digital marketer, you have some control over optimizing your business listings. The bad news: there are ranking factors that are simply out of your control. Let’s dive in and see which signals are most important within GMB.

5 Important GMB Ranking Factors

1. Primary Category

Make sure every business listing has a relevant primary category. Additional categories are a ranking factor, too, as long as they are relevant to your business. When filling out your primary category, go ahead and add as many additional, related categories to your business listings.

Pro Tip: Update your categories regularly. Google is adding new categories all the time. Darren Shaw, Whitespark

There are two to 10 category changes every month to categories. In the last year, we have found there are a lot of restaurant categories added as well as the auto industry. Joy Hawkins, Sterling Sky

2. Keywords in Business Title

You likely don’t have control over your business name — nor should you keyword stuff your name for rankings’ sake — but businesses with highly descriptive words in their name will perform better in GMB. For example, a clothing retailer cleverly named “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” will likely not rank as high as the more straightforward “Lucy’s Clothing Boutique.”

3. Proximity to Searcher

Google serves up GMB listings that are close in proximity to where the searcher is located. Unfortunately, this ranking factor is out of your control.

4. Link to Local Pages

While most businesses link to their homepage on GMB, multi-location businesses should link to their location pages. This allows Google to crawl your location page and find local content — sending excellent relevancy signals.

5. Positive Google Reviews

If customers recommend you, Google is more likely to as well. Well-rated businesses rank higher in the Local Pack compared to low-rated businesses. Bonus tip: while you don’t have control over what customers write about you, it’s important to know that customer reviews with relevant keywords also help your ranking.

Remember: Local Organic Search Drives the Most Clicks to Site

In addition to providing customers with business information via the Local Pack, your multi-location or service area brand should focus on a search strategy that helps you rank high in local organic listings. Local organic results appear below the Local Pack and receive roughly half of all clicks when you remove zero-click searches. And while GMB is a small ranking factor for local organic results, your brand should focus on creating unique, relevant, local content to rank higher on the SERP.

Need help figuring out how to get your multi-location business to rank higher on Google? Get in touch with GPO today to learn the content strategy and tools you need to make it to the top of the SERP.

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