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How Google decides what to show on Maps

How Google decides what to show on Maps? 3 rules you need to know

As a local business owner, you probably know the importance of being found on Google Maps (if not, read here why local findability is important for your business).

But what are the critical factors when it comes to rank the search results on Maps? In other words, how does Google decide what to show (and in what order)?

Contrary to what you may think, proximity is just one of the many elements involved in the process – and often not even the most influential one.

“Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results”  – Google MyBusiness

Google determines the local ranking based on 3 aspects:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

To maximize the local findability of your business, and appear in relevant searches in your area, you need to work these points out. Let’s see how they operate in detail.


The relevance of your business pertains to the extent that your content or name actual matches with the search terms. Google is evaluating whether your business will be helpful for what the user is looking for.

Say someone is searching for  “vegan pizza” on Google, and you do provide vegan kinds of pizza, even if they are not specialities of the house. If you don’t specify this on your Menu information, you will miss a chance to be found by a hungry, ready-to-buy customer. Make sure to complete and update your business information, in order to help Google understand what you do.


This is pretty simple: how far is your business from the user’s actual GPS location  – or, similarly, from the location term utilized in the search? The more the search or location matches your information, the more likely you’ll be bumped up a few spots.


According to business owners, this is the most challenging of the three points. Prominence refers to the online reputation of your business, meaning all the information that Google gets about your business from across the web. We’re talking about links, articles and other references to your company, but most of the time it comes down to reviews.

Customer reviews appear to be one of the most significant factors in Google Maps ranking (if you still haven’t, read our article Why online reviews matter? 5 (not so obvious) reasons). Google considers and scores the number and the quality of reviews in order to determine your local ranking.  That’s why getting more reviews and improving your ratings will eventually lead to a better local ranking. 

Start to use online reviews to grow your local business!

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