I’m finding that ‘use your location’ in Google search seems to focus mostly on your zip code, at least as a first layer of local relevance.
Perhaps within the zip code, depending on your location and volume of available search results for a given query, your search results could be more customized on a tighter radius. For example, if I search ‘best brunch’ in city of 100,000 people, Google will look mostly at my zip code vs. if I search ‘best brunch’ and I’m standing in the middle of Manhattan where Google might look first to within a block or two of my exact location.
Here’s an example of zip code relevant search results from a desktop when I search ‘best dentist’ in Google:
Notice the tight radius of search results specific to my exact location.
And if I scroll all the way to the bottom of the search results, I can see that Google is in fact using my zip code for localization:
And now let’s compare this to what I get when I search a more granular, location specific version “best dentist in 30605” (which is the zip code I’m located in):
Notice the more loosely grouped search results that seem to expand and scan the entire range of the zip code… not tightly knit around my specific location within the zip code.
Ironically enough, the result that out to the far west side is still in fact within the zip code 30605, just on the outer western edge.
But in the first example where I left out any reference to a specific location — meaning, all I searched was ‘best dentist’ — the radius and proximity to my exact location seemed to be much tighter.
In order to leverage this particular dynamic in local SEO, what we call location authority, it’s critically important for you to have a clean and consistent layer of your business data established, coupled with volume and magnitude of the distribution of that data.
Business data refers to your citation, or business name, exact address, phone #, and website URL as displayed on your GMB listing.
Location authority starts first with your GMB (Google My Business) listing, or Google Maps listing.
Once your GMB listing is verified and exact, the next priority is to ensure your website has an exact match citation to your GMB listing.
From there, the distribution of your citation to relevant and authoritative resources, especially within your specific business category, is how you fuel location authority and drive increased presence in the local search results.
The collective whole of this distribution network is what we refer to as your citation portfolio.
Citation portfolios that are the most consistent, and distributed through the most relevant business categories, typically results in more location authority attributed to the business location.
And location authority ultimately results in higher rankings, more presence, and more productivity from local search results such as phone calls, direction requests, foot traffic, and website visits.
I have found businesses that reach a high enough threshold of location authority can appear at the top of Google local search results regardless of the granularity of the specified location.
Meaning, if you have enough location authority, regardless of whether someone specifies a location or not (i.e. a city name or zip code), you’ll get exposure in the top search results for locally relevant search phrases.