How does Google local search algorithm

Author: Joy Hawkins (Joy Hawkins) - an expert on the local SEO, head of SEO-agency Sterling Sky, one of the leading participants in Local Search Forum, Speakers of the conference on search marketing.

When it comes to Google's algorithm, there is a big difference between how they treat organic and local results. In this article we will look at the main factors that affect the ranking of a local issue.

By a local algorithm we mean an algorithm that allows you to display the local issuing unit, the so-called «Three-Pack».

When a user performs a local search, or enters a query that involves getting local results, Google usually shows in the TOP issue three results with a map, and under them - the rest of the results, which will be called "organic."

According to the information in the Google Help in the work of this algorithm we used the three most important factors - distance, company reputation and relevance. Below we consider in more detail each of them.

1. Distance

This factor is the distance from your company to the place specified in the search query, or to the user's location, which Google calculates based on the available data. Which location it has determined can be seen at the bottom of the search results page.

  • Postcode (desktops)

If the user is using a desktop device, Google can determine the postcode of the place where it is located. It will also be listed at the bottom of the page issue. There are a number of tools to help check the position of the site on the basis of the indices. For example, Moz the Check Your Presence Tool will , BrightLocal , Whitespark and the Places Scout .

  • Geographic coordinates (mobile device)

When the user is using a smartphone, the Google usually offers more detailed information about its location, including the geographic coordinates of actual locations, and notes with a blue mark on the map.

In the market there are also tools that allow you to see the results based on geographic coordinates, and these data are usually very accurate. Among these services appear Local Falcon and Chrome-free expansion of the GS the Location Changer .

At which level to focus, depending on the specifics of the search. For example, to search for a lawyer is usually sufficient information index level. If you are working with dentists or fast food establishment, it will be necessary to look at the geo-coordinates level.

In general, it is very important to know that the distance does affect the results that the user sees. And if your customers are searching for your company, being at home, and do not see it in the local search results, then it could be that in the distance.

This is a problem for many agencies, and those two types of tools that we have mentioned above, can more accurately track the position.

2. fame

Fame speaks of how important Google thinks the company. Is this an established business and gain a firm foothold in the market, or whether it is a new company, of which little is known?

For Google's reputation uses a number of signals. For example, shopping. If a traditional store that few visitors, then the Google, most likely, not deems it known.

Reviews also affect this figure. The more reviews, including the old, the more the company is considered to be known.

Mentions - another signal for Google. It also takes into account the number.

3. Relevance

If the company is known, but its site is not well-structured content on the topic that interests the user, its relevance will be very low.

NB. It is important to understand that all of these factors work together. And it is important to make sure that you analyze all three.

Determining the relevance, Google analyzes the following things:

  • content;
  • On-site SEO (tags Title, meta tags, etc.);
  • Mention is also taken into account, as Google looks at such things as the address of the company. Whether it is located in this city? whether it is relevant to that city, who are interested in user?
  • Categories are also very important - a category in Google My Business. In Google currently has about 4,000 different categories in the GMB and constantly change this list by adding some and removing others. It is therefore important to ensure that you choose the right category for your business.
  • Company name - another major factor to determine relevancy. Even simply having the right keywords in the title may make the company relevant enough to rank. It should not be, but that's what we see in practice.
  • Reviews. A couple of years ago Mike Blumenthal (Mike Blumenthal) conducted an interesting experiment. He asked a few people left on the number of phishing web Yelp reviews mentioning specific keywords, to see if it will affect the rankings in Google local issue, and the result was positive. Google analyzes the content of comments is definitely to see what words people use and understand how it affects relevance.

As rank without proximity to the user, popularity or relevance

Of course, ideally, we need all three of these things. However, in the local unit can get issuance and not having all three factors. Below we look at a couple of examples.

If you want to expand your range, then you're serving a lot of people. You serve not only the people in your neighborhood. You, for example, serve the whole city. You do not need to rank around Chicago very popular keywords, such as "dentist" or "lawyer". However, if your company is well known, and the site has relevant pages or content associated with niche keywords that often it is enough to extend the range of coverage for long-tail queries. And this is very good.

Fame - is the primary factor that allows you to expand your range in the space of concurrency of queries. We often see that Google returns search results in the companies that are a little further target area, just because they have an astronomical number of reviews or a very high domain authority and the number of referring sites.

Popularity and relevance - the two factors that definitely affect the region that you are covered in local search.

Spam and phishing web Listings

Spam and phishing web listings - is a big problem in the area of local search. Lead generation services generate these pages are ranked and even with zero fame.

They have fame, references, credibility. Often they do not even have websites, but still they are ranked due to these two factors.

For example, they create 100 listings in the right city, choose a suitable location, then add keywords in the name of the company, getting some relevance and, somehow omitting factors are known, these pages are ranked, which is very disappointing.

Of course, Google is trying to improve its local algorithm. We hope that over time, the weight of such factors are known to increase, and this problem will be eliminated. However, we do not know what the final result will come Google. We also recently conducted a small study to see which of these two factors has a greater weight.

Experiment: web links to GMB

The question of adding links to the site in the company's profile on Google My Business is often a matter of controversy. On what page put a link: the home page or to the page with a list of branches, if we have several offices? We conducted an experiment to see what happens if we change the link, and instead of the page with the list of branches we point to start. As a result, we have seen that almost always switching your homepage have a positive impact on the rankings, even if the page has completely irrelevant.

Here is one example: we had a client who was in Houston, which opened a branch in Dallas. Home Company has been optimized for Houston, and the page address - for Dallas. We consulted with other SEO-experts, and they all felt logical to refer to Dallas Page in the appropriate listing.

However, we were wondering what would happen if we put a link to the home page that is optimized for Houston. As a result, we have witnessed the growth of the positions and the number of search queries that triggered the company, although never mentioned Dallas on the main page.

Developing a local SEO strategy, always test these factors and choose the right ones. In reality, different variants are possible.

Local algorithm organic search algorithm vs

Some of you may think that these two algorithms use the same factors. If you share this opinion, we strongly recommend that you revise it. As shown recent study Moz, only 8% of the results from Google Local issuing unit also appear in the organic results underneath.

Our experience shows that the intersection between the two algorithms is definitely reduced. Therefore, we actively explore the principles of local search, to help our customers achieve success in the two verticals. And we advise you to also think about it.

Source: Блог Moz
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