A PhD Analysis of Google Places Local Search Rankings

Recently Bizible, an online marketing software business, took a look at ranking factors that affect local search via Google Places.

They researched the impact of Google Places Ranking Factors in a more scientific light to evaluate the potential of localised search. For the study conducted they researched approximately 400 search terms within 30 results deep from 20 different cities across 20 local categories to evaluate 30 potential ranking factors.

They studied each factor in isolation and in unison to expose any multiplier effects. Researches used a variety of IP addresses to mimic the way changing physical browser location could generate different results. Research data concluded that there are largely improved ranking results on the main search engine results page when local results are incorporated in searches.

From this research a number of integrated results tips were concluded that can help pages get more recognition. Learn from the following discoveries to further boost your website in Google’s search results.

• Categories on Google Places pages are matched with broader search results (if applicable). For example when search for “sushi”, Places categories would search “restaurants”. And search categories are portrayed with the business name, i.e. “Rickshaws sushi” for an “Auckland Sushi” search.

• Listing the category term in the business description and Google “at a glance” section will improve page rankings. Having a business description surprisingly had no effect on ranking, but note what did improve page ranking was incorporating the search category in the business description.

• The centroid is key! Research found that having a physical address in the city of search didn’t carry much ranking weight, but what did have influence was the distance from the centroid. Rankings drop by 4/10ths every mile away from the centroid.

• Having 5 Google Reviews showed to improve site rankings, but it was proved there was little effect on search results having more than 5 unless the site reached 100 or more reviews.

Aaron Bird, CEO at Bizible, said, “For the integrated results, we found that on average, implementing all of these factors showed an increase in rank by about 2 positions, which is fairly significant for a 3/5/7 pack. For the non-integrated results, we found that on average, implementing all of these factors showed an increase in rank by about 9 positions, which good as well, given that we only went 30 results deep.”


Make sure that your webpage is up to Google’s Places standards and is using this platform to full potential to increase customer reach and recognition.

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