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Are Relevance, Distance, & Prominence Google Ranking Factors?

Read on to learn whether there is any connection between prominence, distance, and relevance, and improved Google rankings.

Local businesses that want more traffic from search must improve their local rankings.

But can prominence, distance, and relevance affect your organic search rankings?

Read on to learn whether there is any connection between prominence, distance, and relevance, and improved Google rankings.

The Claim: Relevance, Distance, And Prominence Are Ranking Factors

What are relevance, distance, and prominence in relation to local businesses?

Relevance determines how closely the search user’s query matches information about a local business.

While Google can pull information from around the web, the best way to ensure relevance is with a completed Google Business Profile.

Think about the keywords you have optimized your website for – these same keywords for products and services should appear in your GBP listing.

Distance determines how close the search user is to local businesses based on the user’s browser information.

The closer the search user is from a local business, the more likely that business is to appear in the local maps results.

The exception is if another local business better matches the relevance of the search query.

It may have more visibility in search results than closer, less relevant businesses.

Prominence determines how popular a local business is offline.

“For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands are also likely to be prominent in local search results.”

The Evidence For Relevance, Distance, & Prominence As Ranking Factors

In the Google Business Profile Help Center, Google specifically says:

“Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. A combination of these factors helps us find the best match for your search. For example, our algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.”

To improve each of these factors for your business, Google suggests you complete your business details in Google Business Profile.

These details help Google determine your business’s relevance to a user’s search query and distance from the user.

For prominence, “More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking.”

In 2018, Moz released its study of the top ranking factors.

The top three signals were from Google Business Profile, links, and reviews.

This aligns with Google’s recommendations to update your Google Business Profile and to acquire more reviews.

Relevance, Distance, And Prominence As Ranking Factors: Our Verdict

Prominence, distance, and relevance were confirmed by Google via the Google Business Profile Help Center.

In addition to entering your complete business details into Google Business Profile, Google also suggests the following to increase your visibility in local search results.

  • Verify each of your business locations to increase the likelihood that your business is close to applicable search users.
  • Keep your business hours up to date and accurate.
  • Manage and respond to all reviews, both positive and negative.
  • Add photos that showcase your business, products, and services.

For better prominence, focus on increasing mentions of your business within your local community and beyond.

The more times Google sees your positive mentions, ratings, and reviews for your business, the more likely your visibility on Google will increase.

Also make sure to read our chapter on Local Citations & NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number).


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

An announcement to adapt SEO strategies for Google's systems with an image of a book titled "Google Ranking Systems & Signals 2024."

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