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Lesson 2 – SEO Ranking Factors

Let’s dive right in with Chris Moreschi the Founder at GorillaDesk and learn the fundamentals of Local SEO. Subscribe for more content like this for your service business. Join our free Accelerator course designed to take you to the next level.

Part-1: Local SEO Ranking Factors

The factors we are going to cover in today’s session are literally the building blocks of a successful local SEO strategy for your local service business.


Relevance is to how well a local business listing matches what a potential customer is searching for.

To be able to succeed ot the relevance parameter, a local business has to be:

  • Geographically relevant
  • Search term relevant (relevant for the search term searchers are using)

So, you must be thinking how to build the relevance for your local service business?

That’s a great question.

We are going to cover everything in detail.


Prominence is basically the measure of popularity of your business. It is about how well known your local service business in your immediate city and in your service area. 

A high-authority and popular local service business always has better chances of ranking higher than a new business or a lesser known business.

To build the prominence for your local service business, you need to have local signals. Get these local signals right, and it positively affects both relevance and prominence.


Proximity, also known as distance, refers to how close or far the location of a searcher is from the location of the term used in the search.

This is the hardest factor to influence directly as you have very limited control on searcher’s location. That said, if your local service business does well on the first two factors – Relevance and Prominence – it can make up for the proximity factor to an extent.

Part-2: Relevance: Introduction

Relevance is the first local ranking factor your local service business to overcome to increase its chances of ranking in Google Map Pack.

In simple terms, 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.

To be able to succeed on relevance the parameter, a local business has to be:

  • Geographically relevant

At the top level, Google determines geographical relevance by looking at the zip codes. In further determining the geo-relevance, latitude and longitude of a business location play an important role.

  • Search term/keyword relevant (relevant for the search term searchers are using)

To determine search term/keyword relevance, Google checks whether a business website or Google My Business listing has the search term in:

  • Title
  • Content (services and description)
  • Business Category

How You Can Improve Relevance For Your Local Service Business

  • Your Google My Business listing content is keyword optimized.
  • The primary and secondary business categories on your Google My Business listing are relevant.
  • Include geo-identifiers like zip-codes, service area cities/neighborhood, GPS coordinates in content on your GMB site, GMB posts, and in the services section to your Google My Business listing.
  • Geo-tag your media (images or videos) and optimize them for keywords.
  • Geo-optimize the location pages on your business website. 

Ensure they are optimized for the target keywords as well. 

You want to make sure that when Google bots crawl your pages, they find these search terms and geo-identifiers.

If you mention zip-codes, add longitude and latitude, or have names of neighborhood mentioned on your business website, Google bots use them as signals for relevance.

These signals help your business pass the geo-relevancy test.

  • Optimize your brand mentions for keywords and geo-location.

This one is really important. Anything related to your business online, be it:

  • Social Profiles
  • Press Releases
  • Any community event you sponsor
  • Any site where you got interviewed
  • Any ranking sites that recognized your business
  • Citations

Try to optimize them for your main keywords and for your geo-location. When Google will crawl all these, it will identify and assign the relevancy to your local service business.

  • Create relationships between your online properties and other public related entities to establish relevance.

This is an advanced technique.

To create relevance, you don’t need to mention zip codes that you serve. What you can do is – link to a famous website or entity in that area where you serve.

For example: If your business is located in Fort Pierce, Florida and you serve other nearby cities such as Port St. Lucie and others; you can mention any famous location or link back to the official site of ‘Port St. Lucie’ to establish relevance.

By linking your business site/page/any other online property with the public/famous entity, you are establishing a relevance.

Part-3: Prominence: Introduction

When it comes to Local rankings, Prominence comes into play only after once your local service business establishes relevance for both search queries and the geo related queries.

Prominence is also the factor you, as a local service business owner, can control and influence significantly. 

In simple terms, Prominence is all about how popular your local service business is in your city or in your service areas.

Some local businesses or 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.

There are a lot of factors Google looks at when deciding the prominence of a local business:

  • Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories/citations). 
  • 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 organic results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.

How You Can Increase Prominence For Your Local Service Business?

  • Create more brand accounts or social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube etc.)
  • Build more citations and directory listings
  • Get more reviews on your Google My Business listing
  • Get more reviews on other 3rd party listings such as – Yelp, Facebook and others.
  • Get more brand mentions for your local service business on the internet. Do press releases, guest posts on industry sites, donations to local charities, sponsoring local events in your area. 

The idea is to get others to talk about your business/brand and not just getting a backlink. Make sure to have your NAP mentioned on these sites.

When Google scans these sites and sees the mention for your local service business, Google loves it and it increases your prominence.

  • Focus on ranking your business website and other brand properties higher in organic rankings.

Your business’ ranking in organic search results also impacts it’s chances of ranking in Google Map Pack. If your business isn’t ranking on the first page of Google, it is highly unlikely that it will rank in Google Map pack.

This is why activities such as:

  • Building location pages on your website
  • Building backlinks to your website’s home page and location pages
  • Making sure each page on your website is On-page SEO optimized.

If need be, you can go beyond your business website and build backlinks to your other brand properties such as Google My Business listing, Citation listings and others.

Part-4: Proximity: How it affects Local SEO Rankings

Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search. 

Basically, how far away your business is from searcher’s location.

And if a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.

As a local service business, you can’t really control:

  • The location of a searcher.
  • If they are using a geo-term in their search query.

Effect on rankings ⇒ If your business is near to the searcher’s location and matches with the search query, there are high chances of your business showing up in top-3 rankings in the map pack, provided you are covering all other bases.

As this factor depends on the searcher’s location and the search query they use to find a local service business, there isn’t a direct way one can influence this factor to use in their favor.

That said, all is not lost. You can influence the proximity or distance factor by doing a good job with the other two factors – prominence and relevance. But you need to be very realistic here. You can only influence to an extent and not completely.

Note: There are some ‘grey techniques’ to overcome and influence local seo ranking factors.  We recommend to stay white hat to avoid those ‘grey techniques’ to avoid having your listing penalized by Google.

Continue to Module 2 to learn how to get started executing on your own local seo campaign.

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