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Is physical proximity to searchers a Google ranking factor?

How close are searchers physically to business impact rankings?Treat the evidence for (and against) it as a ranking factor.

Nearly one-third of Google searches have local intent – ​​that is, searchers are looking for content that is nearby or located in a specific area.

Usually (but now always) when Google determines there is a local intent, it shows the top local results in a Map Pack at the top of the search results.

Businesses can also appear in organic search results for queries with local intent.

How close are searchers physically to business impact rankings?Let me see.

Statement: Physical proximity to searchers is a ranking factor

The idea here is that Physical Proximity The physical location of a business and the distance between the searcher is a key ranking factor in local searches.

Evidence of physical proximity as a ranking factor

On Moz's 2020 list of local search ranking factors based on industry research, the proximity of the searcher to the place of business dropped from first to third.

It's not just a belief commonly held by SEO professionals, though.

Google bluntly tells us that proximity is one of the top three factors that determine local search rankings:

"Local results are primarily based on relevance, distance, and prominence.The combination of these factors helps us find the best match for your search.

"Distance takes into account the distance between each potential search result and the location term used in the search.If the user does not specify a location in the search, we will calculate the distance based on what we know about their location.

Why would Google show someone a list of pizza places in Toronto, Canada, if they're wandering the streets of Medellin, Colombia, looking for a slice?

The big question for local SEO professionals and business owners is, how do you give Google a clear picture of your location to ensure you appear in relevant search results?

There are several specific methods:

  • Ensure citations (local listings) are accurate, and your business appears where people search for local products, services, and more.
  • Claim ownership and verify yourGoogle My Business listings.
  • Get your Google Maps API keyAnd optimize for locations and routes to provide searchers with a more immersive, richer experience.
  • For service area merchants,Please make sure your profile is set up correctly,So as not to violate Google's guidelines for properly representing businesses.

Demonstrate proximity without physical intimacy

In addition to that, you can help Google understand the context of your location for relevant local queries, and you can improve the experience of potential customers through content optimization.

For example, Google might know the map pin for your location and know that your location is at the intersection of XNUMXst Avenue and Lyon Street in Ottawa.

gmb-neighborhood-results-Google Maps Physical Proximity

Google knows this community is called The Glebe, so you're already refining searches like [restaurants in glebe] and [dinner nearby] if the searcher is near your physical location because there is a verified GMB profile and accurate citation.

But, to borrow a few examples from the world of sports, what about [Jay's pre-game dinner]?

Or how about [Senator Game Dinner]?

I'm far from the city where these two teams play, and the query doesn't have enough local intents to draw MapPack.

But maybe I'm going there tomorrow.

So who will help me find dinner?

In the Senator's example, the first restaurant I found in Google's top 10 organic search results wasn't even a website or a local listing.

It's a no-brainer to talk about what's happening locally in your blog posts, GMB posts, social media, and more.

Here's another example of how you can approach the searcher's needs when you may not be physically close to the searcher at the time of the query, but are physically close to the need:

google-video-search-results - Google Video Search Results

Restaurant OSSO is using video to appear in position zero search results for this locally relevant query, even though I'm currently 1 miles away.

Create locally relevant content if you want to be among searchers who are planning but haven't been found nearby.

Physical Proximity to Seekers: Our Verdict

Yes, Google uses proximity/distance as a search ranking signal.

And, importantly, you can't simply tell Google to only show your business when a searcher explicitly uses a location term or where Google can tell them.

Mention local organizations, sports teams, communities, or events in your content so Google has more ways to tell when you're actually approaching a searcher's needs.

Think about your client personas and the problems you can solve for different types of people.

Make sure you include local information in meaningful content so that Google can tell you to satisfy any local intent.

Extended reading:

Page Speed ​​as a Google Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Is Google's MUM a search ranking factor?

Mobile friendliness as a Google ranking factor: what you need to know

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