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!

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7 Response Comments

  • Taycan Darling  September 7, 2017 at 6:22 am

    I like how well this showcases the trimodal algorithm.

    If you’re Seabirds Kitchen in a case like this, how do you beat Native Foods Cafe? Proximity & relevance are pretty much out, so you’re stuck fighting for prominence against a 7-city chain with a website that holds 20+ DA over you. Is Seabirds Kitchen resigned to playing 2nd fiddle when it comes to drawing those OCC students?

    • Dan Leibson  September 7, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Hey Taycan,

      Great questions! I think there is a lot that Seabirds can do:

      1) They are an up and coming brand. Started as a food truck, this is their first location and then they just opened their second in LA. So their prominence is going to grow.

      2) Moz DA/PA is a bad metric to use when judging the authority/prominence of a domain as it relates to success in the local pack. More on that in the 2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors.

      3) They already have a better average review rating and leveraging that and other SEO tactics could pay off in droves for them, both at the pack and local organic level.

      A wise man once told me the trimodal algo is all about balancing the 3 legs. Seabirds is actually in a great position to do just that.

      Also, as a vegan, Seabirds >>>> Native Foods 🙂

  • Gail  September 7, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Nice find!!

  • Patrick  September 7, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Is it possible to tag different photos to show up for each search? I think Seabirds could draw more attention with a better picture targeting vegan food other than the generic interior photo they show. Is google able to show anything other than the basic profile photo for each business and tailor the photo to search intent yet?

    • Dan Leibson  September 7, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      Don’t even get me started on GMB photos Patrick. Google actually doesn’t let you choose what photo shows up in search ever. The photos you set in the Google My Business dashboard are very likely not the photos that will show up in a search. And getting them to change is incredibly difficult.

      • Dave  September 26, 2017 at 6:59 am

        Amen to that last comment about google’s control of photos over riding the smb’s perspective

  • Game-Ace  November 7, 2017 at 8:44 am

    It’s interesting that Peruvian restaurant is on the list. That means Google recommendations are not any more based just on keywords, but on the user’s demand or purpose behind them.