Understanding how well your local business ranks on Google is a crucially important part of your SEO and digital marketing.

However, getting reliable ranking data for local businesses from the majority of tools out there is difficult.

In fact, we would argue that most ranking data may be giving you a misleading and artificially high opinion of your rankings.

In this post, we will show you why most local ranking data is so flawed and how to get better ranking data that you can use to improve your visibility and marketing.


  1. The BIG problem with local ranking data
  2. Geographic ranking data
  3. Using this information
  4. Free Local Ranking Grid – find your real rankings

Free Rank Report – looking for an expert view on your rankings? Get in touch for a free rank report for your 5 top keywords from multiple postcodes across the geographic area you serve. Give me my rank report please

1. The BIG problem with local ranking data

There are many tools out there that will help you check how well your business ranks locally.

Typically, you enter your keywords and your address and the tool searches Google from that location and outputs your rankings.

Most agencies will also offer a similar kind of rank tracking service to let you know how well things are going.

You are ranking in the 3 pack and in the organic results – great.

So what is the problem?

The problem? Rankings change by location

For local businesses, Google will factor in many variables but the official Google documentation focuses on three key areas:

Relevance – easy enough, you have to be relevant for the search query.

Prominence – you need to be popular and have a good reputation.

So far so good. This is all standard SEO stuff.


This is where things get interesting for local businesses looking to check their rankings.

Distance has two key factors:

In a nutshell, the further away from your business a customer is, the less likely they are to see you.

You Google your keywords in your office and it looks great.

Maybe you have a rank report, but this is likely run from your location so again it looks great.

Move a mile down the road and it may be a completely different story.

If you cover a larger area like a city, then by the time you have moved a mile or two you may not be on the page at all.

This is a problem.

You have an artificially high idea of your rankings.

Sure, there are lots of ways to check your rankings, but, unless you factor in distance by checking rankings across the geographic area you target then you don’t really have any idea how well you rank.

2. Geographic ranking data

The solution to this problem is simple – you check your rankings at various points across your target geography to get a much clearer picture.

SEO – local rankings across Birmingham

One of our biggest keywords is simply “SEO”.

This grid shows how we rank from our location and then in 0.5-mile points across our target geography (central Birmingham, UK).

Central to our location we do well with lots of 1st and 2nd place rankings.

North West of our location in the area known as the Jewellery Quarter we don’t do so well. There is a big office complex here with several other SEO companies that likely has an impact and Google is showing competitors who are closer to the location the search was conducted from.

SEO Agency – local rankings

Now this one is more interesting.

From our location, we are 1st for “SEO Agency” – great.

However, move away from our location just half a mile and we are not in the top 3 so we have a problem in those locations.

We clearly don’t do well for this term on a local basis. Now, we are not too concerned, as we are not a typical local business and the majority of our work comes from outside our location.

However, if you are a traditional local business then this information is hugely valuable.

Using this information

Once you know your strengths and weaknesses you can refine your SEO strategy.

You can work on building local rankings in the areas where you are not so strong.

You can supplement your local and organic visibility with some Google Ads ensuring you are visible in those locations where your local rankings are not so strong.

Armed with a realistic overview of your rankings you can now ensure your search marketing strategy is on point.

Checking Local Rankings – A Summary

In 2022 Local Search results are highly competitive.

To ensure you maximise your sales and lead generation you need to have a clear view of how you rank over your target area.

Then, you can focus your Local SEO efforts to improve your weaker locations.

You can also supplement any SEO with other tactics like Google Ads.

If you have any questions please drop a comment below or get in touch.

Free Local Ranking Grid

Want to know how your business ranks? Supply us with your location, the area you target and your 5 most important keywords and we will run you a customised rank report today. Knowledge is power! Request your free local rank report.

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