Last week we detailed how to perform a simple local presence audit for your local clients. This week we’re looking at prominence, and how it can help businesses get greater visibility in Google’s local pack.
New SOCi Study Looks Into Local Ranking Factors
Remember when Search Engine Journal brought up the relevance between prominence and EAT (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness) a while back? Around that time, we covered how businesses can apply EAT to Google Business Profiles (GBP) to win in the Vicinity update.
Well, last week Damian Rollison on Street Fight shared a sneak peek into a study completed by SOCi that shows how prominence can win out over relevance and proximity in the local pack (in some cases). The study uncovered a surprising data point in the top 20 local search rankings – many of the lower positioned listings actually had a greater volume of positive reviews than even the third position listing in the local pack.
The Key Ranking Factors for the Local Pack
A quick refresher – local search listings are primarily determined by three ranking factors.
- Relevance – How applicable a listing is believed to be to a user’s search intent.
- Proximity – The distance between the searcher and the business location.
- Prominence – Positive brand recognition corresponding to Google EAT factors.
So, if listings further down in maps have a greater number of reviews than others in more prominent positions, it could imply that a local pack listing within the top three positions is less important than previously thought. However, a deeper analysis of the study showed more complicated factors at work, and we’re looking forward to seeing the complete SOCi study.
For each local search term, Google has only a limited inventory of listings that meet the three criteria of relevance, proximity and relevance. When the options are exhausted, the search results must sacrifice one of these factors to some degree.
In light of the Vicinity update, it may be somewhat surprising that prominence has emerged as an increasingly relevant factor. In practice, this means that the proximity to a searcher or relevance to the search query will begin to loosen. However, prominence (the number of positive reviews and brand sentiment) will remain high.
And what’s the reason listings further down the page often have more positive reviews? Well, Street Fight points out that these listings may not be perfectly located or relevant to the search query being monitored, but they are often the prime listing for a fairly similar query.
It appears Google is willing to reward the exceptional local businesses in one specific vertical with search visibility in an additional vertical (even if it’s less relevant) if they have a higher prominence. So for example, say you help your moving company client become the primary listing in the local pack. This client could then also be featured in the top 10 for storage companies. And while local businesses want positions one through three, even businesses in position 10 can win if they feature across many search terms.
This brings us back to Google EAT. With prominence becoming a critical element for local businesses and their search visibility, quality brands with respected names and positive reviews will prosper. To achieve this, local businesses need to work on showcasing their expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness in everything they do.
These Key Factors Can Influence the Local Pack in Many Ways by @BernieColeman via @Advice_Local #SEO
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