David Mihm has done it once again and published another edition of Local Search Ranking Factors.  This year David surveyed 32 local search geeks to get their takes on the top factors for ranking high in Google Maps.  The entire set of results is well worth the time for any business that wants to do well in local search.  For those of you who just want the goods without the verbiage, here are the top factors:

  1. Claiming your Google Place Page/Local Listing
  2. Have a Business Address in the City That is Being Searched
  3. Associate Your Google Place Page with the Proper Categories
  4. Put Your Product/Service Keyword in Your Place Page Business Title
  5. Proximity of Your Address to the Searched City’s Centroid
  6. Product/Service Keywords in your Google Place Pages Description
  7. Associating Photos with your Google Place Page
  8. Associating Local Area Code with your Primary Place Page Phone Number
  9. Associating Place Page with Marginally Related Categories
  10. Location Keyword in Place Pages Business Title
See you in the 7 pack!

Share This Story!

About Author

40 Response Comments

  • Don Kaufman  June 7, 2010 at 11:48 am

    thanks for getitng down to the real nitty-gritty. Only thing I’d add is getting biz name, address and phone squared away first with Localeze, InfoUSA and Axciom. After months of pressing them, I finally see they’ve launched a portal for managing listings –http://www.mybusinesslistingmanager.com/. Thanks again for your help.

  • Jim Rudnick  June 8, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Great job Andrew….muchly appreciated both your help in same and Davids vision too!

    Only thing is, once again I’ll comment that the #12 item, “closeness to centroid” seems to have nowhere near the same ‘value’ it used to have up here at least in g.ca maps….

    I wonder why that might be? And I’m checking too….perhaps its something to do with the “area” that we chose for a couple of clients who come to mind as the area that they service and as such we do not list their address…

    Still checking tho…but thanks once again for this too!



  • Sports News  June 8, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Nice post Andrew, I totally agree with you but are these 10 factors enough. In my opinion there must be few more.

  • Jim Rudnick  June 9, 2010 at 9:56 am


    geez Jack…is this a spam attempt at grabbing some link juice for your site?

    if you dont know — maybe you should have first looked to see that links are NOFOLLOWs eh…

    …sigh….sorry to sound off on this guy, Andrew…but geez…eh?



  • Andrew Shotland  June 9, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Thanks Jim. The spammer has been terminated, with extreme prejudice.

  • Sven Cooke  June 10, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Good article. I’ve seen lots on SEO but never really thoughts about it on a local basis.

    Interesting to reflect on it.

  • Brian  June 16, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Great article. We agree these 10 factors are very important when it comes to optimizing your local profile. We have found about 50 factors that at some level effect your local ranking.
    Thanks and we look forward to sharing this topic with our followers at http://www.twitter.com/seonow
    We look forward to your next post.

  • Todd  June 22, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I’ve followed this report for the past couple years now and for the life of me, I can’t seem to make these items work. Are you sure this is a complete listing of factors. I’ve even seen one local expert explain how he can get a group of professionals in one location (Doctor office) all listed individually within the same box (the top 5 spots no less). I quit offering this service, because there doesn’t seem to be a tired and true method. Any hints???

    Out of the 7 box in Phoenix.

  • Andrew Shotland  June 22, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Hey Todd, as you well know there is no sure thing in this business. These techniques are the foundation for any successful Google Maps campaign, but each situation is going to require a little custom work, based on the factors at play.

  • Ethan Winstone  June 25, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Nice Posting, I think Andrew is rite, I also agree with him my SEO Service Provider are also doing the following work for my website.

    1. General Importance of Claiming Place Page / Local Listing
    2. Business Address in City of Search
    3. Associating Place Page with Proper Categories
    4. Volume of Citations from Major Data Providers + IYP Portals
    5. General Importance of Off-Page / Off-Listing Criteria

    and, I m quite happy with http://www.bergstrom-seo.com they are really good and always come up with new SEO techniques.

  • Joe B  July 7, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Didn’t realize how important having your street address was with the search engines. Makes sense now that I think about it. Wondering if this should be placed in the footer so it appears on all pages?

  • Nick Stamoulis  August 19, 2010 at 5:48 am

    All of these are important factors in Local SEO. You should make sure to have the profiles complete and that means having a proper local address, phone, description etc…Claim all the listing that you find and optimize them for local search.

  • Andrew  September 6, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Hi Andrew

    A good post indeed.

    I thought I was up to speed with Google Places but I’d never thought of putting a keyword in the business title. Duhhh! So a quick and simple amend and I’m done. 🙂


    Andrew –

  • Don  September 14, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Putting keywords in your business title is the quickest way to get your page removed from Google Maps – perminantly. The following is from the Google Places Policies Quality guidelines:
    Business Name

    Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world. The name on Google should match the business name, as should the address, phone number and website.

    Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.

    Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name.

  • harris david  September 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    Nice explanation about Geo targeting. I have some more doubts about this. Most of the directories asks local address to submit on adding domains. Suppose I have 50 domains and I am managing all those from same location how will i do it, separate local address. Is it good adding same local address on other domains?

  • Andrew Shotland  October 2, 2010 at 6:55 am

    You can have multiple domains at the same address rank in Google Maps. They should probably target different queries – kind of like different doctors at the same hospital.

  • Andrea Kropp  October 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Anyone know if there is truth to the following.

    Another SEO person told me that if you have a 7-box listings and then lose it (get replaced by someone else) it is next to impossible to get back in.


  • David Morgan  November 23, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Some other things that I think help get a higher listing…

    1. When putting name, address, and phone number in the footer of your site and on the contact page, use micro formats.

    2. Add geo tags to your header with the longitude and latitude of your location.

    3. Mark your business on Google Earth, create a kml file, then upload that file to your site and put it in a geo sitemap, submit the sitemap to Google in your webmaster tools account.

    4. Get as many web references to your business name and address as possible. In this respect, don’t worry about getting a direct link, you just want your business info listed on as many free review and yellow-page type sites like InsiderPages, SuperPages, Judy’s Book, Yelp, Topix, Merchant Circle, Manta, etc. as possible.

    5. Submit your site to web directories that support geo-tagging and micro formats.

    6. Write press releases and get your business name and address mentioned in the online edition of local newspapers.

    I’ve had a great deal of success using these methods in combination with the ones you mention. One business I helped, even though they went under and deleted their Google Places profile, is still listed at the top of the local results. And for some reason a second listing appeared at #7, too, which I don’t quite get. Thanks for the post!

  • fritz  December 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    hi Andrew,

    how about those business that not yet claimed?
    it is possible that the business can still rank in top 7 even thou they are not claimed?

  • Andrew Shotland  December 16, 2010 at 9:20 am


    Unclaimed businesses can still rank in the top 7

  • Mike  January 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    if i have 2 domains pointing to one general domain, i.e. a painter and roofer pointing to a general contractor domain and have one physical local address. does it make one less valid than another? does it discount it? because the painting site has a great ranking and i dont want to loose that.

  • Stuart  February 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Is this not still an issue in Google Places results – “Proximity of Your Address to the Searched City’s Centroid” …It seems to me that being central in to a city location makes no benefit at all, when it should, I’m forever coming across listings that are not really even ‘local’! I really thought this would have changed/improved a lot over the last 12 months but it seems the same even through the recent algo improvements/changes?

  • fritz  February 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    what i observe some of the local listing rank in top 7 have many backlinks from third party site like superpages.com, judysbook.com etc.

  • David Robertson  March 16, 2011 at 7:48 am


    I have adhered to these protocols as much as humanly possible in trying to get our google places page to come up on local search for the keyword Johnstown Used Cars. The competition have
    1. Not Claimed Their Listing Page
    2. Are Further From The Centroid
    3. Have Little To No Citations
    4. No Pictures
    5. No Videos
    6. No Reviews Or Very Little Reviews

    They all are using the correct keyword though….Used Car Dealer but I just can’t seem to move up the list.

    This has been over a month of work and I’ve studied David Mihm’s survey extensively. Some of the changes I have made have been

    1. Adding Citations
    2. Changing The Display Number On Google And All Our Citations To A Local Number
    3. Claimed Our Listing
    4. Added Photos
    5. Added Videos
    6. Got Reviews
    7. Changed Meta Information

    We have even offered free oil changes for reviews to help in this area. This all boils down to lots of time and money wasted to not budge on the local list.

    Can anyone suggest a new step or direction to go in? Our URL is http://www.buythomashonda.com

  • Andrew Shotland  March 16, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Hey David, I just checked out your site for “Honda Johnstown PA” and you guys are #1 organic and #2 in maps. What aren’t you ranking for that you want to rank for? That footer on your site btw is an abomination. 🙂

  • David Robertson  March 16, 2011 at 11:43 am

    “Johnstown Used Cars” is the search phrase…..There’s not much competition for Honda Johnstown Pa since we are the only Honda Store In Johnstown Pa. However, there are tons of used car stores here and I’d love to be number 1 for Johnstown used cars. thanks so much for answering back. I had been thinking about commenting for a while now but didn’t want to sound like I was a free loader or anything! We are in the middle of getting that footer taken out. We are switching website providers and I’m catapulted to the postion of SEO with only a year or two’s experience. I try to do everything right but in some cases like this I just don’t know what else to do.

  • David Robertson  March 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Oh Yeah! And BTW, like you said, we are second on maps and the listing ahead of us isn’t even claimed!

  • James Parker  March 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Andrew, I was searching through google and found this, I need to know more about this? Can I get your assistant?

  • طراحی وب سایت  March 28, 2011 at 2:22 am

    hi again andrew..we are web design group in iran .(not Spam machine ) .Thanks again for your help.

  • Doctors Internet  April 9, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Hello Andrew,

    We create website for doctors and have claimed a lot of local profiles for our clients.

    1) I have used keywords in the business name but also left the doctors name. This works.

    2)Get local maps to the top of a page takes patience and time. I do think reviews help. What do you think?

    What is the most important factor?

    3) I have never tried kml earth sitemap as mentioned above. Do you think this works?

  • Andrew Shotland  October 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Paul, assuming your site has no technical SEO issues – links & unique content are the coin of the realm

  • saiful  December 6, 2011 at 10:18 am

    how to influence plus google today? does also include things that can increase the ranking in google?

  • Rick  January 13, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Andrew I haven’t got a clear answer on this. I know it may be important for hCards but does it hurt to have the location details in more than one place on the page… i.e. footer and right sidebar?

  • Andrew Shotland  January 13, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Rick, I don’t think it would hurt. Just sounds like bad web design

  • Rick Noel  July 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Timely post for me Andrew. Thanks for sharing. This happened to me when trying to manage the change our new Google+ Local Places listing where the newly create Local Place had “Road” instead “Rd” creating NAP inconsistencies with dozens of citations created over the years. I thought fixing this would be easy. The edit put the listing in pending review, then triggered a review/audit/phone calls. A quick Google turned up this post along with other threads shedding light on the policy change. The other concern is that we would lose the 6 reviews by “Google Users” that remain but have been ammonized. Never fear, Google states that Google+ users can migrate their reviews then they will no longer be “Google User”. Like that’s going to happen! It’s almost as bad as how Yahoo! Local changes any businesses with “Inc.” in the name to “Incorporated” no matter how many times you try to change it back. What’s the answer? Go with a tool like Yext or Universal Business Listing and change a bunch of citations from Rd to Road and Inc. to Incorporate as Yahoo! local is an authoritative listing? These guys set the NAP algorithm up then crap all over it creating wasted work/rework required to rank in local search. Now I am afraid to change in fears of getting another interrogation call about being allowed to be shown on the map (and presumable in the local search results).

  • Mike Frensham  September 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Thanks Andrew this has some great info albeit 2010 I have still found a few great tips
    on local search ranking.

    Following the comments through has been interesting reading too!!