Google dominates the cyber-world, capturing 93% of the worldwide search engine market share. Winning on Google is crucial to grow your local business, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend $50 per click on ads (like Costco and Wells Fargo). Understanding the Google algorithm is a free (and very necessary) step to earn the edge over your competitors and boost your local presence ten fold. Google is not against you. It just needs to know a few important things about you. Here are the five major buckets in Google’s local search algorithm to grow your local business:

Google Wants to Be Your Friend: 

Google is not against you. It just needs to know a few important things about you. Google wants to be your friend because they want their audience to have the best experience, from search through delivery. Here are the five major buckets in their local search algorithm to grow your local business:

  1. GoogleMyBusiness (link to Optimization Article): 25%

  1. Link Signals: 16%

  1. Review Signals: 15%

  1. On-Page Signals: 14%

  1. Citation Signals: 11%


Optimizing your company’s locations is crucial for Google to be your friend. With Google My Business (GMB) accounting for 25% of the local search ranking algorithm, every location of a business needs to have a claimed listing with accurate information. If the location can’t be found, or if the words “Claim this business” appears, ownership needs to be assertive— quickly! To Google, an unclaimed business barely exists. Linking to Google My Business and updating the listing data is like saying, “Hey Google, I’m over here.” If a company has 10 or more locations and doesn’t have a service like Experience.com (Formerly SocialSurvey) to manage this, you may be able to use a bulk upload spreadsheet.

Link Signals: 

Backlinks are a clickable object (text, link or image) that goes from one site to another. Google’s algorithm loves it when relevant sites link to you as an answer for what the searcher is looking for. In recent years, Google has moved away from their original “PageRank” algorithm, but still sees links to your website as a valuable signal.

There are two types of links, Internal and Inbound. Internal is a link that goes from one page of your website to another without leaving your domain. For instance, if someone is on your home page and clicks on a link to find a location that directs to another page on your website. Inbound links are links that are on other sites that redirect their traffic to your website. When one website mentions a different website and links to it, that’s a signal to search engines that other external sites are endorsing the content. Focusing on inbound links can really help you win online, as there is plenty of opportunity here. Getting natural links from high-quality websites will really boost your page rank. 

Review Signals

Google loves reviews and so do potential customers. Positive reviews will definitely persuade people to choose your business, and they will also have a big impact on search rankings. Getting your customers writing reviews for your company on Google (and other third-party review sites) is valuable for several reasons:

  1. Google is reading the reviews and looking for keyword matches.
  2. An ever-growing volume of local customer reviews tells Google you continue to exist in that location and continue to do a great job for your customers.
  3. Responding to your reviews tells Google and the rest of the world you care about the Voice of the Customer
  4. Once you’re doing great on Google reviews, turning your attention to other relevant industry third-party reviews sites are likely to help you create additional business opportunities.

On-Page Signals: 

Google also looks at a company’s on-site content as a ranking factor. If a company lists themselves as an accounting firm but their website says nothing about accounting, that is a red flag. The idea is simple enough— make sure you have high-quality content on your site that tells potential customers the products and services you offer. Additionally, the security and functionality of your site can affect your rankings. For instance, is your site mobile-friendly (responsive)? Does it work on all devices and browsers (compatible)? All of these combine to create your level of authority to Google.

Citation Signals

A local citation is an online mention of a business’ Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP). This information is critical for influencing search engines to display local search intent, while also helping internet users discover local businesses. There are two kinds of citations: structured and unstructured. Google’s algorithm looks at both when ranking search results. Citations are really important to your business. Focus on the citations that can actually bring you customers. For instance, restaurants should make sure their NAP data is perfect on Yelp.

A structured citation is a mention of your business on websites and business directories like Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, City Search and Yellow Pages. An unstructured citation is a mention of your business on blogs, news sites and other businesses’ websites. It is important to make sure your business is listed on high authority and industry-specific sites to earn credibility and trust from Google. For example, mortgage lenders and real estate agents should have all of their locations listed on the major directories, as well as industry-specific listings like Zillow, LendingTree and Experience.com (Formerly SocialSurvey).

Increase the power of your brand online

Winning on Google can be complicated, but by following the practices provided, your business locations can successfully broadcast the following statements to Google and potential customers

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