After I posted this article, the messaging on Google actually changed. Barry Schwartz captured a before/after screenshot in his Search Engine Land article.
Bill Slawski also posted about this and concluded “Do click-throughs determine whether certain pages appear in search results? We can’t be certain, but it appears like a possibility”.
Previously the communication directly from Google clarified that ranking in the local 3-pack was based mainly on 3 things:
- Relevance: Relevance is how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help us better understand your business and match you to relevant search results.
- Distance: Just like it sounds — how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If you don’t specify a location in your search, we’ll calculate distance based on what we know about your location.
- Prominence: This describes how well-known or prominent a business can be. This is based on information we have about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and we try to reflect this online as well. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be more prominent in search results.
Those of us in this industry have known this for some time. However, yesterday, a thread from a Google employee added a 4th factor that I have never seen anyone at Google state before:
- Search history: In the past how many times has the listing been clicked on by users searching with the keyword.
They also proceeded to give some tips on what business owners should do with their profiles but this 4th factor really stuck out to me since so many reputable individuals in the Local SEO space have done tests on this but we have never seen Google actually come out and confirm it.