Case Study: How Does Google Rank Local Businesses?

7 min read
Jul 26, 2022 5:18:43 PM

Any local business owner who wants to increase traffic has probably researched their Google Business Profile listing. 

A Google Business Profile listing features the name, address, review rating, and phone number of nearby businesses.

Google My Business listing


Seeing your business show up on Google's local listing may be the ultimate goal, but let's take a look at some facts: 


  • The top 3 results on Google receive an estimated 75.1% of clicks. 
  • The number 1 spot receives 31.7% of all clicks
  • Position 10 receives only 3% of all clicks


Just ranking on the first page of Google may not be enough to move the needle. Let’s discuss what it takes to get the top local business listing on Google.


How does Google Rank Local Businesses? 


Google determines local business rankings based primarily on 3 factors: 


  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence


Google will use its algorithm to determine the best search results for your topic. If they determine that a business further away matches your search better, they will show these results more prominently. 


Google does its best to keep its algorithm secret, but here is what they reveal.




Relevance refers to how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for. To optimize your GMB profile for relevance, add complete and detailed business information to help Google better understand your business and match your profile to relevant searches.




Distance considers how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search. If a user doesn't specify a location in their search, Google will calculate the distance based on what they do know about their location history.




Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent offline, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands are likely to be prominent in local search results.


Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business, from across the web, like links, articles, and directories. Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business's local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply.


Factors That Influence GMB Rankings


Let’s use an example of finding a restaurant near me. Example: Downtown Tampa, Florida


A restaurant owner will want to rank a restaurant near me for as much of an area as possible. However, some factors will determine the relevance of what Google will display. 


1. Distance


Local Google Business Rankings

A simple restaurant near me will show to most prominent results regardless of the type of food they serve. These businesses are established and have over 500 customer reviews each. 


2. Relevance

how to optimize your GMB profile


The top listing Google my Business listing is optimized completely. This includes areas served and relevant keywords which Google will take into consideration when showing the most relevant results. 


3. Prominence


The domain authority (DR) doesn’t necessarily need to be high in order to rank for a local business. They can rank for the local term "restaurant near me" without building any backlinks. This is due to the lack of competition. However, they will have difficulty ranking for competitive search terms without building backlinks.


backlinks for local seo


Directory links are one of the most important factors in building backlinks that increase local SEO rankings. 


Directory links, or local citations, are business listings that include the business name, address, phone number, website, and photos. 


These links are built from already established sites such as Yelp. 


Learn how to fix bad Yelp reviews.

local citation examples

How to Improve GMB Ranking?


Google My Business (GMB) is a powerful tool that can significantly enhance your visibility and attract potential customers. However, many businesses need help optimizing their GMB ranking, wondering why their presence is less prominent than desired on Google Maps. This article will explore the key steps to improve your GMB ranking and put your business on the digital map.


Understanding the Importance of GMB Ranking


Before delving into the strategies for improving GMB ranking, it's essential to grasp why it matters. GMB is not just a listing; it's a dynamic platform that directly influences local search visibility. When your business ranks higher on GMB, it increases the likelihood of appearing in local searches, attracting more customers, and driving foot traffic to your physical location.


Claim and Optimize Your GMB Listing


The foundation of a strong GMB ranking starts with claiming and optimizing your listing. If you still need to claim your business on Google, now is the time. Ensure that all your business information, including name, address, phone number (NAP), and website, is accurate and consistent with your other online profiles.


Optimizing your listing involves providing detailed information about your business, such as your business hours, services offered, and relevant categories. Including high-quality photos of your business can also enhance your listing and make it more appealing to potential customers.


Cultivate Positive Reviews


Customer reviews play a pivotal role in determining your GMB ranking. Google values your customers' opinions, and positive reviews can boost your credibility. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your GMB listing and promptly respond to positive and negative feedback. Engaging with customer reviews builds trust and signals to Google that your business is active and responsive.


Consistent Business Citations


Consistency is vital when it comes to business citations. Ensure that your business information, especially your NAP details, is consistent across all online platforms, directories, and social media profiles. Inconsistencies can confuse customers and search engines, negatively impacting your GMB ranking. Regularly audit and update your business citations to maintain accuracy.

optimize your Yelp profile

Utilize Relevant Keywords


Keywords play a crucial role in optimizing your GMB listing for search engines. Research and identify relevant keywords related to your business, industry, and location. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your business description, services, and other applicable sections of your GMB profile. This helps Google understand the nature of your business and increases the likelihood of your listing appearing in relevant local searches.


Leverage Google Posts


Google Posts are a valuable feature that allows you to share updates, offers, and events directly on your GMB listing. Utilize this feature to engage with your audience and keep them informed about your latest offerings. Regularly posting updates enhances your GMB profile and signals to Google that your business is active and relevant to local users.


Foster Local Engagement


Engaging with your local community can significantly impact your GMB ranking. Participate in local events, sponsor community initiatives, and collaborate with local businesses. Being an active community member boosts your brand visibility and signals to Google that your business is a valuable asset to the local area.


Monitor and Analyze Performance


Regularly monitor the performance of your GMB listing using the insights provided by Google. Pay attention to metrics such as views, clicks, and customer actions. Analyzing this data can help you identify trends, understand user behavior, and make informed decisions to optimize your GMB ranking further.


Frequently Asked Questions


Is Google business listing free?


It's completely free to create a Business Profile on Google. You can create your profile for free and manage your business using Google Search and Maps.


How to Add your business through Google Maps


To get started creating your Google My Business profile, follow the following steps:


1. On your computer, sign in to Google Maps.


2. You can add your business in 3 ways:


  • Enter your address in the search bar. On the left, in the Business Profile, click Add your business.
  • Right-click anywhere on the map. Then, click Add your business.
  • In the top left, click Menu. Then click Add your business.


3. Follow the on-screen instructions to finish signing up for your Business Profile.


Claim your business through Google Maps.


  1. On your PC, open Google Maps.
  2. In the search bar, enter the business name.
  3. Click the business name and choose the correct one.
  4. Click Claim this business. Then click Manage Now.
    • To choose a different company, click I own or manage another business.
    • Select a verification option and follow the on-screen steps.


Why is my business not showing up on Google Search?


Your business may not appear in Google Maps because it needs location authority. To appear on Google Maps, your GMB listing (location) must have location authority. Or you must be within proximity to your business location or stand directly there.




Improving your GMB ranking is a continuous process that requires dedication and strategic efforts. By claiming and optimizing your listing, cultivating positive reviews, ensuring consistent business citations, leveraging relevant keywords, utilizing Google Posts, fostering local engagement, and monitoring performance, you can enhance your online visibility and attract more customers to your business.


For expert assistance in managing your online reputation and optimizing your GMB ranking, contact NewReputation. Our experienced team is dedicated to helping businesses thrive in the digital landscape. Take control of your online presence and unlock the full potential of Google My Business with NewReputation's tailored solutions.


To create a local SEO authority, contact NewReputation today.


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