Google has released a video about local search rankings. Given the secrecy they have surrounding their search algorithm, anything they contribute to public discussion is welcomed.
The main information they provide is that local search is comprised of three entities. In the video below, Google tells us that relevance, prominence and distance are what are considered when serving up results.
The relevance is a given to me. After all, I would not expect to get results for “dog training” when I search for coffee shops. The other two are slightly more tricky but so far my experience tells me that distance is the overriding factor. Do some experimentation yourself and you will see that distance seems to have the most importance.
To be fair, Google may not have much information to determine prominence. After all, how does Google determine that Sally’s Coffee Shop is more prominent and popular than Bobbies Coffee Shop? I have a suspicion about that but Google is still probably working on that in their algorithm.
As for my suspicion, I am pretty sure that Google will be using data it gets from other local directories like yellowpages.com, superpages.com, yelp.com, etc.. They will be looking at not only their inclusion in those sites as well as reviews. After all, if Bobbie has more (and better) reviews than Sally, that will be a factor in determining greater prominence.
815iMedia is recommending that businesses get a presence in the local search directories as well as getting accurate and relevant reviews from your customers.