This is a screenshot for the search term “vegan food.” I have put red boxes around the distance from search aka proximity of each of the three results in the local pack for that search term. These businesses are in the least proximate order. And the reason why is pretty simple, proximity isn’t as important as relevance/searcher intent when it comes to local searches. I used arrows to highlight the category of each of these businesses. The first two are actual vegan restaurants, and the third is a Peruvian rotisserie that has vegan and vegetarian options. Were proximity, or other factors that weren’t about searcher intent, Google’s #1 ranking factor then Google would be directing users to bad search results. Kinda like sending a vegan to a rotisserie chicken joint. Also worth noting is that Native Foods, as a well-established vegan chain, is the most prominent of the three businesses.
Dan, why does that matter? Plainly put, I think this result shows that there isn’t a “number one ranking factor” when it comes to local search. Google’s local search algorithm is trimodal and is focused on relevance, prominence, AND proximity. So keep calm, and Local SEO on!