How Does Google Determine Your Local Search Ranking?


Google has just launched an update that changes the way it determines the local search ranking for your business.

In a positive recent trend, Google has started to become more transparent with it’s algorithm and by outlining the key ranking factors for local search results.

Google officially announced “Prominence” as a new local SEO ranking signal. Google updated their official Google My Business help page which provides details on how to improve the local rankings for your business.

The Google My Business help page includes suggestions on ensuring your business information is accurate (category, phone numbers and physical address), verifying all of the locations your business operates from, ensuring your hours of operation are accurate and handling your customer reviews appropriately.

Also listed are several ways Google uses to determine the local ranking for your business.


How Google Determines Your Local Search Ranking



How well does your local listing match what someone is searching for? This is why your business information should always be fully detailed and accurate.



How close are you to the person searching for a particular term? Bear in mind that relevance will be the stronger signal. If a business is further away from a searcher’s location, but is more likely to have what they’re looking for than a business that’s closer, Google will rank it higher in local results.

It’s important to note that if a user hasn’t specified a location, Google will attempt to calculate the user’s distance based on any information it has about their current location.

And the most recent addition..



Which is essentially how reputable your business is.

Here is a direct quote from Google on ‘Prominence’.

Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also 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 score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.

Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.

Your business’s overall organic search presence is a ranking factor when it comes to local.

This means all of the standard SEO practices you’re currently incorporating into your SEO strategy to improve rankings (on or off page) should apply to local rankings as well.


Customer reviews

It’s also worth mentioning that Google has officially confirmed that customer reviews and ratings are both ranking factors that are used for determining your local search ranking.

This has been commonly assumed to be true amongst Search Engine Marketers for a long time but it’s nice to see Google has officially confirmed it.



Ensure your Google My Business information is complete and accurate, encourage customers that have had a positive experience with your business to leave reviews and follow standard SEO practices to help your business outrank your competitors locally.



Google Webmaster Guidelines Update


Google has an in depth list of webmaster guidelines which are intended to help webmasters optimize their website(s) to be correctly crawled and indexed by Google’s webcrawlers. Google recently made an update to their guidelines and of course with Google representing approximately 65% of the search engine market share, it’s important to pay close attention to their changes.


How do Google Webmaster Guidelines help my business?


By adhering to the Google Webmaster Guidelines you will be making it easier for Google to locate pages on your site, index them, and properly rank your site.

In the most recent update there were a few significant additions to the existing guidelines which we will outline below.



If possible, secure your site’s connections with HTTPS. Encrypting interactions between the user and your website is a good practice for communication on the web.


Making Your Site Mobile-Friendly:

Design your site for all device types and sizes, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Use the mobile friendly testing tool to test how well your pages work on mobile devices, and get feedback on what needs to be fixed.



Make your site’s important content visible by default. Google is able to crawl HTML content hidden inside navigational elements such as tabs or expanding sections, however we consider this content less accessible to users, and believe that you should make your most important information visible in the default page view.


Site Structure / Links:

There was a minor but significant change to this section, the guidelines previously stated.


Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.


Now it’s been changed to.


Ensure that all pages on the site can be reached by a link from another findable page. The referring link should include either text or, for images, an alt attribute, that is relevant to the target page.


This change is significant because it places more emphasis on the importance of anchor text (actual link text or alt attribute) which is what Google uses to determine what the page you’re linking to is about.



Although the Google Webmaster Guidelines are continually being updated and adjusted, the overall direction Google is going does not appear to be changing anytime soon. Google’s primary focus is on the overall user experience which these recent changes are intended to improve.



5 Steps To Optimize SEO Results For New Blog Posts


It’s important for content writers and businesses to understand that after you create and publish some great new content for your blog your job isn’t over yet. You spent all that time creating a content rich, engaging blog post now it’s time to optimize SEO results by following the 5 steps outlined below.



Here’s an overview of 5 Steps you can take to optimize SEO results for new blog posts


Social Media Promotion

Although this step is usually the most obvious, many people still fail to understand it’s importance. You should be sharing your content over a period of several weeks as opposed to the first couple of days after it goes live to help keep the traffic momentum going. It’s important to note that your social media accounts should be promoting not only your own content but also other relevant content from people in your niche. Vary the timing for when you share content and ensure you cover all platforms to maximize the sharing exposure to your audience.


Link Back To Your Blog Post

Ideally after your new blog post has gone live people will naturally start linking back to it after reading through it, however you can still help give the new post a boost by linking back to the post from other relevant content featured on your blog or website.


Don’t Neglect Comments

It’s important to stay on top of new comments for all of your content not just your new posts. You can setup your content management system to notify you whenever you receive a new comment on your blog. For comments on content that is featured on other sites that you’re the author of, you can use Disqus to subscribe and be notified via email. To help create better online relationships make sure to stay connected with your readers.


Save The Link For Your New Post

After your post is live, it’s important to save a copy of the link, especially if the new post is a guest post. This is useful for staying on top of new comments and sharing without becoming overwhelmed. You should be revisiting your content regularly to re-share it and reply to any questions or comments which can be challenging if you haven’t saved copies of the urls for all your posts.


Don’t Forget About Your Posts

Your post’s momentum may start to drop off after a few months but by using your list of urls as discussed earlier you can come back and revisit older posts to ensure the information in them is still current and relevant and that all the links are working as intended. Updating older posts can give them new life and new traffic.



5 SEO Strategies You Can Implement Today


Search engines are constantly updating the algorithms they use to evaluate websites but by keeping up with the latest changes, following best practices and by implementing these 5 SEO strategies you will be setting your website up for long term success.

Here are 5 things you can start implementing to improve your website traffic and take your website to the next level.

5 SEO Strategies to Help Grow Your Business


1. Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization should be one of your top SEO priorities. A recent study showed that mobile internet usage has surpassed desktop internet usage to become the new king. Google has made their stance clear by officially stating they prefer mobile-optimized responsive websites and have begun labeling search results with “mobile-friendly” if they pass certain requirements. It’s important to ensure your website is mobile optimized and ideally fully responsive.

2. Focus Less On Keyword Rankings

Don’t stop tracking keyword rankings entirely but you should be placing much more value on tracking ROI metrics. You might be ranking well for certain keywords but are those keywords actually producing any leads or sales? There are many keyword phrases that have little competition but provide little to no actual improvement to your ROI.

3. Quality Over Quantity

Google has always used inbound links as a ranking signal and this is not expected to change in the near future. The quality of your links is much more important than the quantity. For example a handful of relevant links from trusted sites that are considered an authority in their field hold more value than thousands of links from lower quality sites. Focus on slowly and steadily earning quality links from reputable sites.

4. Consider User Intent

Google has started handling search queries in a different manner after their “hummingbird” update. Google used to simply match pages to keywords but after the update it now takes into consideration the user’s intent by attempting to makes sense of the context of your pages. This means that your content should include keyword phrases that users would be likely to use when attempting to search for your products or services in addition to including traditional semantic search words.

5. HTTPS Instead Of HTTP

In August of 2014 Google officially announced that they will be using HTTPS as a ranking signal, HTTPS is a secure version of the hyper text transfer protocol and google stated they will give a minor ranking advantage to encrypted websites that use it. To use https instead of standard http, you will need an SSL certificate which is a relatively low cost and definitely worth considering to give your website an extra boost.


Google Plans to Remove Ads From Right Side of Desktop Search Results


It’s official, Google has confirmed they will no longer display ads on the right hand side of their desktop search results.


After a long time testing the change, Google has officially confirmed they will be removing ads from the right side of desktop search results, and will only place ads at the top and or bottom of the page. Google also stated that for “highly commercial queries” they may display an additional ad which will appear above search results with four listings.These new changes are the result of a long running test that started almost 6 years ago back in 2010 and is something that has been adjusted frequently during the testing. Over the last year Google users have been reporting more frequently that they were seeing only top ads being display in search results as Google began slowly phasing in the change.

Google has confirmed that this change is now being implemented globally to all searches in every language. Ads will no longer be displayed on the right hand side of search results with a couple of exceptions. Product Listing Ads, will continue to be displayed to either the right hand side or above search results along with ads in the knowledge panel.

Here’s Google’s official statement on the new changes:

“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”

To clarify, the elimination of right-side ads impacts all desktop searches worldwide; the addition of the fourth ad above search results will happen for “highly commercial queries.” This would involve searches like “hotels in New York City” or “car insurance” and the like.

By removing the right hand side ads from appearing on desktop searches, search results across mobile and desktop will now be very similar with Google’s mobile search results typically displaying 2-3 ads on top of their search results.