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Local SEO is of huge importance for businesses today, and Google Places plays a critical role in this. In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at Google Places ranking factors in further detail so that you can get a better understanding of how to optimize your strategy. So, continue reading to find out everything you need to know.

What is local SEO?

Before we can delve deeper into Google Places, it is first important to establish what local SEO is. This is the optimization of your online presence so that you can be found whenever someone carries out a localized search, for example, ‘cake shop in New Jersey.’ By utilizing a number of different strategies and resources, you can be sure that your business is visible whenever someone is looking for a company like yours in a specific area. 

What is Google Places?

One of the most important elements of local SEO is Google Places. This relates to the listing Google puts together for local business search results. If you were to conduct a search for a business in a specific area via Google right now, you would receive results whereby there are some local businesses featured at the top of the page.

Rather than being displayed in the manner that typical search engine results are, these results showcase the location of the business on a map, as well as presenting the company’s contact information and website URL. This tends to be referred to as the ‘local 3 pack’ because three listings are selected, and then the organic results are displayed underneath.

google local 3 pack
Google Places

Google Places is free to register for. However, it goes without saying that registration alone is not going to guarantee that you feature in these results. You need to understand the Google Places ranking factors so that you can optimize your online presence accordingly. 

What are the ranking factors for the Local 3 Pack on Google Places?

Now that you have a good understanding of what the Local 3 Pack is and why it is important to optimize for Google Places, we’re now going to assess the ranking factors that have an influence on this. Thankfully, last year, SEO Moz conducted research to determine this. They were able to link the ranking factors based on their order of importance. So, let’s outline them below, starting with the most important, and finishing with the ranking factor that still matters but has the lowest influence overall…

  1. Google My Business Signals – This includes factors like the keyword being included in the business title, categories, and proximity.
  2. Link Signals – This includes factors like linking domain quantity, linking domain authority, and inbound anchor text.
  3. Review Signals – This includes factors like review diversity, review velocity, and review quantity.
  4. On-Page Signals – This includes factors like domain authority, keywords in titles, and presence of NAP.
  5. Citation Signals – This includes factors like citation volume and IYP/aggregator NAP consistency. 
  6. Behavioral Signals – This includes factors like check-ins, mobile clicks to call, and click-through rate.
  7. Personalization
  8. Social Signals – This includes factors like Twitter engagement, Facebook engagement, and Google engagement. 

Improving your Google Places ranking 

Now that you are aware of the different factors that have an impact, let’s take a look at them and how they can be used to optimize your online presence: 

Google My Business Signals

There is only one place to begin, and this is with the most important factor of them all. Having a listing on Google My Business will ensure you feature more prominently in the results for the local pack, as well as you having the added benefit of featuring in Google Reviews. Google review scores represent a key ranking signal. You can optimize your page on Google My Business by adding videos, featured posts, categories, images, an such like.

On-Page Signals

On-page SEO is a term that certainly gets thrown around a lot. On-page signals cover a broad selection of SEO attributes, including NAP, which stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. When selecting what businesses to show for geo-targeted searches, Google will take AP data into consideration. Your NAP must be used consistently across your site, directories, and social channels if you want your business to show in the local pack. Other signals that must be considered here include your domain authority and your HTML mark up. 

Link Signals

As you can see, link signals play a very significant rule. Backlinks have long been an important ranking factor. However, Google has gotten more and more intelligent over the years, and the search engine now knows how to weed out the bad links from the good. You need to carefully plan and execute your external and internal linking. Google will read all of your links, including the anchor text, as well as of the relevance of your content, and this will be used to rank your business on Google Places. 

Behavioral Signals

Click-throughs become very vital once you gain some traction in the local rankings. A low bounce rate combined with a high click-through rate reassures Google that your website is worthy of being one of the three local businesses featured in Google Places. Mobile also has an influence here, with features like ‘clicks-to-call’ playing a key role.

If a user takes this sort of action, it tells Google that they like what they see when they land on your website. This is why it is critical that you have marked up your content correctly so that your phone number is not static text and can instead be clicked on in order to make a call quickly and conveniently. 

So there you have it: the complete guide to the ranking factors that have an impact on Google Places. We hope that this guide has helped you to get a better understanding of the steps you need to take to optimize your site for this platform.