GMB Ranking Factors: How to Optimize Them

A Different Kind of Game

If you want to rank in your city or within a specific location, then you need local SEO, and it is a different kind of game. Other strategies and techniques come into play, and the optimization of your Google My Business page is one of them.

A properly optimized GMB is a great way to pull in more leads, and that is why it is essential to learn about the ranking factors, so you can work with them to obtain better rankings in your desired location.

It is not only different in fact, but also more competitive than before. A lot more. Therefore, if you want to succeed, you need to keep an edge over your competition, and this is exactly what you will learn today.

Let’s start. Enjoy this article by SEO Heroes!

The Basics

Before thinking about complex strategies that would make even Albert Einstein’s brain to explode, you must focus on the basics: filling all the information Google asks for.

It is not only a matter of rankings, but also of giving your customers all the info you need and protecting yourself from a special sort of attack… but what are we talking about? If you do not fill all the info, then someone could do it. You can easily guess who could do it.

On top of that, make sure to monitor the suggested edits, so you can remove them in case someone has modified your GMB listing. It is tiring, yes, but that is why you must fill all the info and monitor your listing. That’s the local SEO game!

Understanding GMB Rankings

You cannot work on something you know nothing about, and therefore, it is important to understand what elements influence your GMB rankings directly.

In this case, three elements have a direct influence: Prominence, Relevance and Distance. Knowing this simplifies things a lot, because it allows you to see how the local SEO algorithm really works.

Let’s talk about each one of them:

Prominence: What Is It All About?

We do not really know all the factors that come in at the hour of evaluating prominence, but fortunately, Google has released some useful info, and based on that, we can deduce the following:

  • The number AND quality of your backlinks. Not surprising at all, because they are one of the main elements Google uses to determine the quality of your pages and website
  • The consistency of your NAP. Google needs accurate info about your business, and ensuring that all your NAP placements are accurate is critical for optimizing your GMB rankings
  • Your GMB reviews and ratings. According to the info, they also factor in the frequency of reviews, so take that into account
  • Your website’s rankings. Because if you are ranking above your competitors, then it is a direct sign of better quality, at least in Google’s eyes, and yes, it will make you more prominent
  • Your GMB and Google+ activity. The more frequent you update and post, the more likely you are to score higher in the prominence department
  • The number of photos in your listing. In addition to helping your rankings, they are excellent for making you look more authoritative, and they work great as ads in the SERPs.

The beautiful thing about prominence is that you can influence it a lot, because as you have seen, you can easily work with these elements. Building more HQ backlinks, incentivizing customers to leave reviews more often, uploading more photos to your listing and publishing more on your GMB and Google+ page are things that you can do to yield excellent results.

Relevance: Making Sense to Google

If you want to rank higher, and get into the map pack, then you need to be relevant… but how can you tell that to Google? It is practical once you know what factors come into play:

  • Your keywords in relationship to your GMB categories. They need to be the same, so take this important step when optimizing your listing
  • Your GMB description. If you want to be more relevant, especially for searches with buy intent, then your description needs to be optimized for such keywords and intent. This is why proper keyword research is a must, because it brings you this critical information
  • Your GMB name. Make sure that your brand/business name is written properly, and if possible, try to include a natural variation of your target keyword
  • Your address. It is an evident one, because Google will only show relevant results for the location of the searcher, and therefore, it will take your physical address into account
  • The searcher. It will take into account the intent (buying, informational, etc.), by using different factors like the keywords and language used, etc. Another reason to optimize your GMB properly by using KWs that your searchers use when looking to buy the products and services that you offer.

Again, you can influence these factors. You can improve your rankings a lot by optimizing your categories, description and name. Study your searchers, discover what keywords they use and use that powerful information to shoot your rankings through the roof!

Distance: Because It Is Local SEO

Surprisingly not, Google factors in the distance at the hour of showing results for local searches. These elements come into play:

  • Your proximity to the searcher. Since this factor was introduce, the population size became more relevant, because if you are going after “city” terms, then you will have an outrageously big number of snack packs, making visibility harder than before. Therefore, the bigger the population size, the higher the competition
  • The method of travel. It is not very important to all the niches, but for some like restaurants and bars, it is crucial
  • Distance from the centroid. However, it is important to take into account that users have become the centroid of search for true local searches.

You cannot do much here, but it is important to get a complete vision on how the local algorithm works.

Now you know more about the factors (known) and their influence in your GMB rankings. Now it is time to learn about how you can optimize them with some cool and powerful hacks and techniques!


It is time to see how you can increase your GMB rankings and pull in more leads from Google!

With all you have read above, you should have a good idea on what you need to do by now, but worry not, because we will expand it further.

The Foundation

As always, you should start by researching and spying on your competitors. Find out who are ranking for your targeted keywords in the top positions, and yes, that includes the map pack. Observe how they are optimizing their listings and obtain important points from here, like the categories used, keywords in the description, etc.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to study your competitors, because if they are already ranking, then they have figured out how to influence the results for your targeted keywords. Use all the tools that you have at your disposal to obtain this information.

Let Google know that you are a REAL brand. Build different branded accounts in social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.) and interlink them, and yes, make sure to include them in your GMB listing.

Build citations, because if you are a real business, then you need to have many of them and make sure that they are consistent.

Direct Listing Optimization

You already know what to do, so here you have a nice list plus some extra tips and hacks:

  • Add plenty of targeted GMB posts using different keywords that your users use when searching for products and services that you offer. Make them regular, because it is key for telling Google that you are an active business
  • Add plenty of photos to your GMB, and make sure that they are GEO optimized. It is a powerful way to add more authority to your listing, and therefore, rank higher. Modify the geo data of your photos using this tool. This great tool also allows you to insert your NAP info in the metadata, so make sure to do it for extra rankings points. In addition, make sure that you name your files correctly by using your keywords, and surround them with relevant text, in case you add them within a post.
  • Make your description optimized for your keywords and searcher’s intent, you already know what you need to do: study your searchers, spy your competitors and get your own conclusions
  • Include natural variations of your keyword in your listing title, and pay attention to the “natural” part, because if you keyword stuff it, then competitors can easily report you and get you punished for spamming
  • Use the best categories possible, again, by searching for your keywords and seeing what categories your competitors are using, it will be more than enough
  • Exploit the power of Google+, make sure to post regularly (use hashtags relevant to your keywords and location), share plenty of photos (optimize them) and make sure to build photo collections and optimize them as much as possible. Everything counts!

It sounds like a lot of work, but worry not, because it will yield excellent results. As always, make sure to back all of your edits and work on real data (keyword research + industry research + research on your competitors).

However, what about off-page? You can use some powerful tricks:

  • Build local-targeted web 2.0 properties, you can do it on blogger, WordPress, Joomla, etc. Make sure to add relevant filler content and keep everything as locally relevant as possible (hint: use the keywords you obtained from your research)
  • Send press release links, as a recommendation, keep it with naked URL and branded for your anchor text
  • Leverage the power of Google by linking to it from other Google properties like Google Sites, YouTube, Google+, Google News, Sheets, Docs, etc.

Your Website’s Role

You are playing the local SEO game, and therefore, other rules apply. As we have seen before, your website’s rankings will directly influence your GMB’s rankings, so it is important to understand what kind of backlinks will offer the best returns.

Instead of running to buy expensive links, you should keep it local. In our other posts, we have said it, and we say it once again: local bloggers and newspapers are your best friends.

You can balance it with backlinks and brand mentions from niche-specific blogs and websites, but above everything, you must focus on building as much local relevance as possible. In many cases, it will not cost you much time nor money to get these placements.

Make a list with all the local bloggers and news sites in your desired location, reach out to them and build links. As a general recommendation, you should keep it branded, so you can fly under the radar and boost your authority.

Also, remember about the role of brand mentions. If you are going to pay for getting listed in directories, then make sure it is in the following:

  1. Yahoo Local
  2. Best of the Web
  3. BBB (Better Business Bureau)
  4. Chamber of Commerce.

They will give you a lot of authority and relevance, something that Google loves with all of its heart!

Final Words

We have reached the end of this post.

If you have paid attention, then now you should have most that is needed to improve your GMB rankings by a hundred fold!

However, remember to track everything you do, so you can find out what is working and what is not. It is important to do so, especially when Google will NEVER disclose all the factors they take into account.

The local SEO game has gotten harder than before, but with this info, tips and hacks, you will be ahead of the curve, and therefore, you will rank higher.

If you have any question or doubt, feel free to contact us. We will get back to you.

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