How to improve your local rankings in Google's map pack.

How To Improve Your Local Rankings On Google

When it comes to capturing new customers for your local business, you’ll want to make sure your business can rank high for local searches in Google.

Firstly, what is a local ranking? A local ranking is when a Google My Business page ranks in the map listings of a search results page (“map pack”) – it is not about where the website ranks in the organic listings.

In this blog, the Manchester SEO experts at Blue Whale Media will be looking at how businesses can improve their local rankings in the map listings.

Complete Your Business Information

The first step is as simple as it gets – but believe it or not, the amount of businesses that simply do not fill out all the business details is astounding. Some of the most important details you will need to complete for your Google My Business listing include:

  • An accurate & verified physical address
  • Service area
  • A phone number
  • Correct business category
  • Business attributes
  • Business description

All of this information allows Google to understand your locality. If Google cannot accurately understand that you are a local business, how can you expect it to rank you for local search terms?

By utilising a verified address and including a service area, you are clearly outlining your own local area as well as any additional areas you may service.

A phone number can also indicate your business locality. For example, an 01925 number clearly indicates the business is local to Warrington.

Using the correct business category is also important. Google groups local search terms into categories, which are matched against the categories of Google My Business profiles to come up with the most relevant results. This is why when you search something like [restaurants near me], you are more likely to see business listings for actual restaurants rather than cafes or fast food (although these businesses can still show up, they will not rank as high since they are not as relevant.)

Optimise Your Description

Descriptions are very important for optimising your Google My Business profile. The description allows you to write informative, relevant and optimised content around your business. You can use the description to highlight additional keywords and business categories as well as improve relevancy to your locality. For example: a Chinese restaurant would probably like to rank for search terms like [chinese restaurant near me]. Google does not provide any dedicated category for Chinese restaurants, so the business can use the description to highlight its Chinese dishes etc.

When you are writing your business description, it’s important to keep the Google My Business guidelines in-mind to ensure you don’t accidentally break any rules!

Factors That Contribute To Your Ranking

Google officially breaks down the local ranking factors into three key points: Relevance, Distance and Prominence.


Relevance is all about how well your Google My Business profile matches the search term. This goes back to optimised descriptions, which allows Google to better understand the business and match the profile to relevant searches.


Sometimes, the rankings are simply out of your control no matter what. This is the frustration of the Distance factor. As the name suggests, this is purely about the distance between the specified location and the address listed on your Google My Business profile. If no location is specifically indicated through the search query, then Google will use the IP Address as the location instead.


Prominence is all about how popular or well known your business is. There are a few sub-categories to this ranking factor, which helps to statistically understand what “prominence” actually means when it comes to ranking.

  • Popularity: popularity is judged through backlinks (both to the business profile as well as the website) as well as brand mentions throughout the web.
  • Reviews: the number of reviews as well as your review score both factor into how Google understands your business prominence. 
  • Website SEO: your website’s position in organic search listings are also a direct factor for the prominence of your business.