Once upon a time, the Internet was all about connecting customers with businesses anywhere – around the region, the state, or across the planet. But things have changed. While the Internet is still the great leveler, allowing companies large and small to compete on more even footing, the fact remains that consumers have started using it to find local businesses to shop at. To make the most of that trend, you need to ensure that you’re able to show up in “near me” searches by locals.

Getting Local With Google Rankings

There are three primary metrics that outweigh anything else when it comes to “near me” local searches, according to Google. These metrics are:

    1. relevance
    1. distance
  1. prominence

What does each of these metrics mean and how can you influence them to make sure customers can find you when they want to?

1. Relevance

Relevance is the easiest one to figure out. If a customer is shopping for shoes, and you sell pizza, there is no reason your business should show up in their search. It’s not relevant. In terms of local search, you want to ensure that your website content closely matches what a user is searching for.

Pro Tip: Google recommends adding complete and detailed business information to optimize your Google My Business listing in order to help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.

2. Distance

Distance is another important one. “Near” is somewhat subjective, but if your business is located 15 miles away from the searcher, then you’re not likely to show up in the search results unless there are very few relevant results closer at hand. The farther away you are from the user’s location (and the distance metrics from their device), the lower in the results you’ll show up.

3. Prominence

The final attribute that really matters is prominence. This one is a little harder to quantify, as it touches on things like authority, brand image, customer ratings, etc. It’s really tied to the volume of information about your business found online. The more information out there, the more prominent your business seems. This includes the number of customer reviews, the number of backlinks to your site, and a great deal more.

Related: Get more Google Reviews with our Complete Guide to Online Reviews

Eat, Sleep, Optimize, Repeat

It can be tempting to add “near me” keywords to your site in an attempt to game the system and boost visibility. Unfortunately, that won’t work. In fact, it could lead to your site being blacklisted by Google. Focus, instead, on the three metrics above, plus optimizing your mobile website and responding to reviews.

2017 was the first year in which mobile searches trumped desktop and laptop-based searches. That trend is only increasing. More and more people are finding answers to their searches from a smartphone. Focus on adding features like Click-to-Call, Click-to-Chat, and others to help customers find and connect with you quickly.

Online reviews, particularly for local businesses, are more important than ever. Google regularly updates reviews to keep them front-and-center especially on mobile. But it’s not just about getting good reviews, you also need to worry about your rating and reputation, and the only way that can be handled is to actively manage your reviews.

Your website is one of the most important tools for ranking your business in “near me” local searches, but it’s not the only one. You should also use local business listing sites, respond regularly to reviews, and make sure your business listings are complete and up to date.