What is “local search”? How rankings are determined and how to improve rankings



  • “What is local search?”
    “How can I get listed in the top rankings?”

    Wouldn’t it be great if your store name appeared at the top of the list when someone searches for a specific search term on a search engine such as Google?

    By being conscious of local searches, you can rank higher in the rankings without paying advertising costs and increase the number of customers to your store.

    In this article, we will introduce how local search determines rankings and the benefits of using local search.

    If you want your store name to appear at the top of the list when people search for specific search terms, it’s important to fully understand how local search works.

    What is local search?

    Local search is a system that displays different search results depending on where you search.

    Google prioritizes user convenience, and since it is more convenient to display the best information for each region, search results are designed differently.

    For example, let’s say you use the search term “Kusatsu convenience store” to find out where convenience stores are located around Kusatsu.

    The place name “Kusatsu” exists in Shiga Prefecture and Gunma Prefecture, and the search results will be different for people who search for “Kusatsu Convenience Store” in Shiga Prefecture and those who search for “Kusatsu Convenience Store” in Gunma Prefecture. .

    It is designed to display optimized search results for each search term and deliver the appropriate information to each user.

    The frame displayed in search results for local searches is called “local pack.”

    Local search results are structured to display information on 3 stores, and by displaying store information in these 3 frames, due to the characteristics of “Search”, information on your own store is shown to users who are highly motivated to take action. Because it is displayed, it leads to attracting customers.

    How local search determines rankings

    In local search, rankings are determined by the following metrics:

    • Relevance
    • distance
    • Reputation

    This metric is officially published by Google.

    reference: Google My Business Help

    Be sure to understand this if you want to improve your ranking in local searches.


    Relevance refers to the “match rate between search terms and business information.”

    Business information is information that proves what kind of business you are doing.

    For example, if you run a beauty salon in Shibuya Ward, when people search for “Shibuya Beauty Salon,” your site will be highly relevant and more likely to appear in local search results.

    On the other hand, when searching for “Osaka beauty salon”, the relevance is low and it will not appear in local search results.

    Business information can be registered on Google’s “Google My Business” and Yahoo’s “Yahoo! Places.”

    To increase relevancy, make sure your business information below is accurate and up-to-date.

    • Business name (store name)
    • Business category (store business details)
    • address
    • telephone number
    • website

    In particular, “Business Name”, “Address”, and “Phone Number” are called NAP and are considered important by Google among the information that can be set.

    Therefore, please set at least these three pieces of information.

    If possible, add other information to enrich your Google My Business information.

    This information is necessary for search engines to correctly recognize your business information.


    Distance refers to “the distance from the location entered in the search term (or the user’s current location) to the store location.”

    Stores that are closer to the location specified in the search (or the user’s current location) will be prioritized and more likely to be displayed in the search results.

    For example, if a region name is included in the search phrase, such as “Shibuya Beauty Salon,” the closer the region name and store are, the more likely it will be displayed at the top of the list.

    On the other hand, if the search term does not include a region name, such as “beauty salon,” the closer the store is to the user’s current location, the more likely it will be ranked higher.

    However, if a user searches for “beauty salon” on a computer, Google will not be able to recognize the user’s current location information.

    In that case, the location is estimated using “IP address”, “Wi-Fi network”, and “mobile data” and the search results are displayed.

    Be sure to enter your store address accurately to make distance more relevant.


    Popularity refers to whether the store name or service name is widely known.

    The more well-known you are, the more likely you are to appear at the top of local searches.

    Google evaluates a site’s popularity based on factors such as the number of links from other sites, the number of reviews, and whether the site is featured on other sites.

    It also depends on how popular you are offline.

    For example, in the cafe industry, “Starbucks Coffee,” “Doutor Coffee,” and “Saint Marc Cafe” are all well-known.

    If your name recognition is low, you need to take measures to increase your name recognition.

    Two benefits of using local search

    Next, we will introduce two benefits of using local search.

    • Get access from map search
    • Increases store visibility

    I will explain each.

    You can attract customers to your store from the internet

    By using local search, you can attract internet users to your store.

    This is because users use smartphones and computers to search for store information from search engines such as Google and Yahoo! and map services such as Google Maps.

    If you keep local searches in mind and enrich your store’s business information, you will have more opportunities to be seen by users on the Internet, and you will be able to attract more customers from the Internet.

    Increases store visibility

    By increasing the exposure of your store name in Google search results, your brand name will increase.

    Depending on the search term, it may be searched more than 1,000 times in a month, and even just one difference in the ranking can make a big difference in the number of times users will see your page.

    Recently, there has also been an increase in the number of users searching for “nearby 〇〇” that does not include area names or place names.

    For example, if you search for “cafes near me” in Shibuya, Tokyo, the search results will show stores near Shibuya based on your location.

    If you rank high in local searches, you will have more chances to be seen by users from search terms other than search terms that don’t include the region name, such as “region name + 〇〇”, which will lead to an increase in your name recognition.

    How to check search results in a specific region

    If you want to know the search results of a local search in a specific region, you can use Google Ads’ “Ad Preview and Diagnosis” to find out.

    (When using “Ad Preview and Diagnosis”, you will need a Google Ads account. Please note that you cannot use it unless you place an ad on Google and pay the advertising fee.)

    First, open the Google Ads screen.

    Click on “Ad Preview and Diagnosis” from the tools.

    Please enter or select the region or search term you wish to search on this screen.

    • Please enter a search term: beauty salon, dentist, etc.
    • Area: Area you want to investigate
    • Language: Japanese
    • Device: Mobile or computer or tablet
    • Audience: Users not included in any audience

    By using “Ad Preview and Diagnosis”, you can check search results in distant areas such as Hokkaido, Osaka, and Fukuoka even if you are in Tokyo.

    How to rank high in local searches

    In order to aim for high rankings in local searches, you need to be aware of “local SEO.”

    Local SEO refers to measures taken to rank high in local searches.

    There is no way to guarantee that your store will be ranked higher if you take these measures, but if you take the measures recommended by Google, there is a possibility that your store will be ranked higher than other stores.

    You can place ads in local search

    You can also place ads in local search results.

    These are called “local search ads” and are displayed on computers and smartphones as shown below.

    Local search ads are a type of listing ad, and by setting address display options, you can display ads in browser search results and Google Maps search results.

    The part surrounded by a red frame is “local advertising”.

    Even if you do not take local SEO measures, as long as you pay for advertising, you can be displayed at the top of the list, and you can expect an increase in the number of store visits and inquiries in a short period of time.

    In order to place local search ads, you need a “Google My Business” and “Google Ads account.”

    You can register for each for free.

    Until local SEO progresses, there is also a way to increase the number of store visits and inquiries by posting advertisements.

    If you can prepare advertising expenses, use them effectively.

    [Summary] Increase the number of customers to your store by paying attention to local search

    Use local search to attract more customers to your store.

    This is because increasing your exposure on Google and Google Maps will catch the eye of users and encourage them to visit your store.

    If you take measures with local SEO in mind, your chances of getting ranked higher will increase, so be proactive.