How Does Google Determine Ranking Places for Locations

As your business is expanding and opening branches in different locations, you also need to keep up with the demands of updating your Google details. More often than not, websites or business owners are confused as to how Google determines the ranking for individual locations. This is very much evident for location modifier keywords.

To give you an idea, let’s discuss the three fundamental factors that govern local SEO. These are Relevance, Prominence, and Proximity.


Relevance is a matter of showing up in the search results based on how relevant your pages are to the search query. Whenever someone searches for something, Google compares it to the millions of pages within their platform and pulls out which one they deem to have the most similarity to the search.

The results could be typical website pages or Google My Business listing. Still, you should remember that just because your query is relevant doesn’t mean you’re going to be at the top of SERPs right away.

For this, we have to consider prominence.


Sure, you have relevant keywords, but how prominent is your brand across the web? Your business or page’s prominence reflects on the authoritative image your pages project. If authority sites trust you, Google sees this as a good sign about your brand.

Backlinking from relevant websites is crucial here. It will build your authority and open more traffic portals for you in different webpages.

Online reviews also give you a big favor here as well as directories and citations.


The most critical aspect when it comes to ranking places for locations is proximity. The more your location is optimized to show within a searcher’s proximity, the more that it will rank on that area.

Many internet users use the local intent search (within the area) to find businesses within their area. They’ll likely search something like “burrito place near me” for someone living, say, in Los Angeles. However, you should also consider the local intent search outside of the area. In this case, the search query would be “burrito place in Los Angeles”.


A few reminders

You can optimize for multiple keywords for your business, but you should be aware of one thing: keyword cannibalization. It’s a common faux pas in Google My Business listings.

This happens when two locations are competing for the same keyword within the area. If this takes place, one location will be filtered out.

This will hurt your business. Also, it will result in inaccurate search results, especially if you’re ranking for a specific town, not just a city or state.

Also, make sure that you create an exclusive landing page for your location intent keywords. Aside from your GMB listing, these unique landing pages will give you additional organic traffic from the search results.

Final words

Ranking places for locations is a great way to target your potential leads to a specific locality. However, you have to ensure that it’s done right, so your business will not suffer from the faulty rankings. It’s slightly technical, but the learning curve isn’t too steep.