Can Population Density Affect the Way You Rank in Local Searches?

Ever wondered how population density affects your rank on Google Maps and other local searches? Is it harder to rank in areas of high population density—like downtown? How about in areas of low density—like small towns?

Unlike many ranking factors, population density is out of your control—unless you’re open to driving out of the way to serve clients in a more or less densely populated area.

We’ve asked ourselves these questions many times. Finally, we went to work to get some answers.

Join us as we explore how population density can affect the way you rank in local search!


Ranking Factors in Local Search

When someone searches in Google Maps, the search engine will provide them with a list of the most relevant results. This batch of results is referred to as the “3-Pack”.

These top-ranked results are chosen for their dominance in three areas, which are:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

Relevance refers to how much your listing pertains to whatever a person is searching for. Google determines this relevance by assessing your authority and legitimacy.

Distance is defined in two ways. If you’re a service area business, either the searcher or their search term will be within your area. If you have a brick-and-mortar, the distance from the searcher to your business matters greatly in ranking. For local search, it’s all about convenience!

The prominence of your business also matters. If your business is established both on the internet and in the real world, Google will take notice and you will always rank higher for it. Things like customer reviews, praise-filled articles, and links on other webpages all help establish your prominence.


What Does Higher Population Density Mean for Search?

LinkNow Media’s local SEO team has been hard at work trying to answer this question. On the surface, it makes no difference. Having more people in your service area can definitely lead to more leads, but it doesn’t necessarily factor into ranking.

Except for one thing. Areas with higher population density, tend to have more business owners. And, specifically, more business owners competing against one another for the top spot in search.

Let’s say, you’re a plumber working in the downtown core of your city. In your service area, there might be 40% more plumbers in that area. That means your chances of ranking in the top spots are lower than in another area. And vice-versa.

If you’re serving an area with a higher concentration of people, there’s likely to be more businesses competing for that business.  And, by extension, more competition for the top spot on local search.


The Things You Can Change About Your Local Ranking

Short of setting your Google service area to a region with lower population density (and driving the distance to get there for work), there’s not a whole lot you can do about high-competition areas.

Your best option is to work on ranking for the factors listed above. Get reviews from past clients and boost your ratings. Get people talking about your business on social media. Use your GMB to add pictures and create engaging posts.

And if you have any questions or need a hand with your local SEO, LinkNow Media can help! Our local marketing team will boost your presence and help get you the leads you need to succeed. Start ranking in Local search with LinkNow Media.

Leave us a comment below or contact us at 1.888.667.7186!


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