Google Updates Local Ranking Factors and Search Quality Rating Guidelines

April 5, 2016

Google My Business Local Listing 3 Pack

Relevance, Distance, and Prominence

Google has further elaborated on their three main local ranking factors – Relevance, Distance, and Prominence. In regards to relevance, Google wants to provide the best user experience possible, so they will prefer the listing which best matches user intent. When it comes to Distance, Google will also typically prefer listings that are closer to your location, however, more complete/fully optimized listings can still beat listings that are closer to your detected location. Lastly, Prominence is used to refer to the popularity of a business – in addition to user reviews and ratings, Google looks for additional information about the business throughout the internet to determine its overall prominence. Implementing SEO best practices can positively influence your businesses prominence in the eyes of Google.

How To Improve Your Google My Business Ranking

These days Google is all about providing the best search quality and user experience on local search. Google has listed several ways you can improve your Google My Business Ranking (by increasing the quality and accuracy of your listing):

  1. Actively manage your Google My Business page and respond to customer reviews and feedback, as it shows you value your customers and their feedback.
  2. Complete all fields with accurate information – especially your business name, category, address, and phone number.
  3. Verify your business (try instant verification or verify by phone for the quickest results) – this will ensure that your businesses listing will be eligible to appear on Google maps and other Google products.
  4. Add your regular business hours, and set special hours when applicable. Remember, you want these to be kept up to date since Google prefers quality listings with complete and accurate information for the best customer/user experience.
  5. Add relevant and appealing pictures to your business listing. For example, if you run a local pizzeria then you would want to post pictures of your pizzas and the inside and outside of the restaurant.
  6. Follow SEO best practices – optimize your website and other listings on the internet to the best of your ability (ensure your business information is consistent across the web as well). Improving your reviews and ratings on Google My Business and elsewhere on the web can positively impact your Google My Business Rankings.

Updated Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines

Major Search Quality Rating Guidelines Update

On March 28th, Google updated their search quality rating guidelines reducing the 160 page document to 146 pages. Overall, Google has further detailed and emphasized page quality & E-A-T. I have included a high level summary of some of the noteworthy changes in the updated documentation below:

  • Decreased emphasis on Supplementary Content – the “Helpful Supplementary Content” section was completely removed as well as several references throughout the document.
  • If you run a User Generated Content website, state whether or not your contributors are experts (can be used to establish E-A-T).
  • Videos can be used to establish E-A-T now.
  • Ads and supplementary content which disrupt usage of the main content will be given a low rating (ex. popups that are difficult to close).
  • Misleading ads or supplementary content will be given a low rating.
  • Deceptive pages and social engineering – pages which purposefully manipulate users will be given the lowest rating.
  • Webmasters should remove spam comments and forum discussions as it provides a poor user experience
  • Increased emphasis on E-A-T for Your Money or Your Life websites.
  • Local is now referred to as “Visit-in-Person”
  • Increased emphasis placed on a website or businesses online reputation
  • About Us/Contact pages needed only on ecommerce and financial transaction websites.
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