Google has updated their help page named Improve your local ranking on Google. Previously, the page had about five paragraphs of text around relevance, distance and prominence for ranking in the local results. Now, Google has vastly expanded the document.
The new document goes over the local 3-pack, how to be included in that pack, how Google does ranking in that local pack and more.
The document explains that you should aim to have as much data as possible about your local business in Google My Business and that you need to verify your business, post accurate hours, respond and manage your reviews and make sure to add photos. That helps people find your business in the local results.
But in terms of rankings, Google still outlines relevance, distance and prominence but expands on each of them. Here is the revised content:
Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.
Just like it sounds: How far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.
Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. 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.
There’s no way to request or pay for a better local ranking on Google. They do their best to keep the details of the search algorithm confidential to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone.
Here are before and after screen shots, if you want to compare the old document and the new document.
Mike Blumenthal was the first to spot this change.