Local SEO: Why Proximity Is The Most Important Factor for Ranking

For local businesses with a physical location, showing up for keywords that include your service area are important for establishing a footprint online. However, many local businesses struggle to identify exactly why they are unable to rank for keywords that are related to their products or service and include cities within their service area.

The first and most important thing that any business needs to understand is that Google can only work with what you give them in regard to your business. If Google has no way to identify that your business has a physical presence, no reviews to verify that you have served (happy) customers in the past, and no discussion about your business online – they don’t have much reason to recommend your business to would-be customers.

Think about it from Google’s perspective. Their goal is to connect those that use their search engines with the businesses that offer the products or services that they need. For search queries that include city names, the proximity of the businesses that they recommend is vital for making solid recommendations.

If the user were to search for “Mankato car wash,” they don’t want to be provided listings for a car wash that is 30 miles away. Using that example, you can see why proximity would play such a key role in local keywords. There are actually quite a few reasons why Google continually alters their algorithm to make proximity an even larger factor every year.

A Business Address is Proof of Existence

When users are searching for local keywords they typically want to be referred to a business in their local area. If you want a Mankato car wash company, you don’t want to be directed to an online website about car washes or some middleman website that lists all of the car washes in your area. A business address is proof of existence in Google’s eyes and increases the trust that they have for your business, increasing the chances that you are able to rank highly for keywords that are relevant to your industry.

Your Address Ensures that you Are Ranking For Appropriate Keywords

Ensuring that you have your business listed in various places around the web (including your homepage and other business listing websites) doesn’t just help Google, it helps your business too. it allows you ensure that you give prospective customers multiple pathways to discover your business. Additionally, it helps Google to determine what cities are relevant to your business and therefore their users. You wouldn’t want to rank for keywords in a city that is too far away and end up fielding dozens of calls from prospects that you can’t help.

Weeding Out Middlemen

There are a lot of websites online that operate as middlemen. Their goal isn’t to provide you with roofing services, it is to connect you with a list of companies that offer roofing services. Although some websites are able to do a good job of making recommendations, these sites ranking highly for local keywords are generally bad for customers and Google alike. Google wants to be the one that provides the list of semi-vetted businesses to their users. They inherently do not want to send traffic to websites that do the same thing as them. Additionally, as a user, you probably would rather be connected directly to companies rather than a middle-man service that may make a cut from your purchase.

The User Wants to Be Referred to the Closest Shops

When a user makes a search query that includes keywords from cities in their local area, they generally want to see a list of the closest shops to them. Although certain tasks might necessitate that they travel farther, Google knows that users want to see the closest shops where they can make their purchase. Proximity plays a very key role in SEO for this reason.

User Location vs. User Search Keywords

Keep in mind that the person that is doing the searching may not be searching for a business in the area in which they actually live. Maybe they want to find a shop that is near their work, a relative they plan on visiting, or their kids’ school. Google knows that displaying the right results is a combination of knowing where the user is currently, and where they actually want to visit a shop.

Importance of Google Listings

In order for Google to list your website for appropriate city-related keywords, they have to know where your business is located. The easiest way to ensure that they have the information that they need is to ensure that you keep your Google listing updated with the latest information. Although you can also list your business on as many directories as you like, the importance of Google listings can not be overstated. Google uses the information that has been provided to them through their own directories first, only pulling data from other websites when the option to use their own data comes up dry.

There are many things that businesses need to take into account when putting together their local SEO strategy. Unfortunately, many businesses underestimate the importance of proximity in local search rankings and end up targeting cities that are too far away that they have no chance of ranking for. If you would like to learn how Mankato Web Design can help your local business improve your search engine presence, contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with our local search optimization experts.