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Are you LSO (Local Search Optimized)?

Does your community’s local business listing show up in the local search results (a.k.a. the “local pack”) for relevant search queries on Google?

If it does, great! If not, let’s take a look at some of the factors that go into the equation.

To start, it’s helpful to understand how Google determines local ranking – in other words, the elements Google’s algorithms consider when determining whether or not to display your listing to a user.

First, let’s start with the basics. Your Google My Business listing should be:

  • claimed/verified with the correct name, address, URL and phone number
  • optimized with complete information regarding category and business hours
  • updated with a variety of photos (lifestyle, property, etc.) that positively represent your community
  • monitored regularly to facilitate timely responses to all reviews

Next, let’s take a look at how Google determines whether or not to show your business listing in the local search results. When a user enters a search query, three factors are typically considered – relevance, distance and prominence.

Relevance – How well does your listing match what the user is searching for? If you’ve added comprehensive business information about your community, this will help Google better match your listing to user searches that might be relevant.

Distance – Your community is located in a particular city, and Google takes this information into account. If the user includes a location term in his or her search query, how far is your community from the user’s location term? Proximity matters. If the user didn’t specify a location, and just searched for something like “retirement communities near me,” Google will calculate the distance based on what Google knows about the user’s location.

Prominence – This refers to how well known your business is. Brands that are more well known and familiar to people are more likely to be prominent in local search results. Prominence also considers information about your community found across the web, such as links from other websites, articles and online directory listings. Following SEO best practices in your website marketing can also impact your prominence and ability to rank in the local results. Finally, with regard to prominence, when determining local search ranking, Google considers the number of reviews your business has and the overall rating score. Google even states in its support documentation that “more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’ local ranking.”

Some of these things you can’t control (your business’ location relevant to users’ locations), but others you can. Two great places to start are keeping your business listing data accurate and complete, and asking happy residents for reviews!

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