Update: Google has changed language to remove "clicks". Very interesting.
Your business listings on Google aren't going to do much for you if people don't see them. Just having one isn't enough. You need to make sure it's optimized.
Google employee Rahul J posted on the company's Advertiser Community site about how to optimize your listing. He gets into fundamentals like selecting the right category, sharing your location and page with customers, asking customers to share their experiences, sharing updates, and including photos.
Before that, however, he lists four factors that the visibility of your listing depends on. These are: relevance, prominence, distance, and search history.
For relevance, he says, you should ask yow relevant your category and listing are to the search phrase used by the user. For prominence, he means traffic to your business listing and how established the business is online.
Distance, of course, refers to the actual physical location in relation to that of the user.
Search history refers to how many times the listing has been clicked on by users searching with the keyword.
Regarding that factor, Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable notes, "I believe this is common knowledge in the local SEO world but I don't think I've seen Google come out and say it."
Rahul J writes that the four factors are "governed by a dynamic system that decides the search results" and that "no one at Google has any influence over it."
Good to know.