Whatever the nature of your business, the primary tenet of real estate is perhaps even more true when it comes to search results: Location, location, location.
Today as the fight for high rankings in your target market becomes more intense, doing whatever it takes to appear in Google’s local pack is more important than ever.
Consider these stats:
- There are 40-60 billion searches on Google each month in the U.S. alone
- Nearly half – 46% – of those search have local intent
- Google’s local pack appears in 93% – almost every one – of searches with local intent
So, if your business does not appear in Google’s local pack then your business is missing out on a major opportunity for visibility and engagement.
Using professional search engine optimization techniques will build your local search presence. That’s the single most important thing you can do to drive customers to your local business and increase revenue.
A majority of users visit your business within a day of seeing it listed on a local search.
And more than 80 percent of local searches result in conversions.
What Is the History of the Local Pack?
For local searches in the past, the top seven results used to be grouped into a panel at the top of the page called the “7 Pack”.
Google reduced the 7 Pack to just three results and redesigned the format of the panel.
This change is best understood in the context of Google’s broader push to better serve mobile users.
The 7 Pack, as structured, would not fit on a mobile device. In contrast, the new “3 Pack” is all that is needed to serve as the first page in a SERP for someone doing a local search on their smartphone.
Focusing on being featured in Google’s Local Pack aka the Google Map Pack is just one of many SEO strategies.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for SEO.
“You should conduct a competitive analysis for your business before getting started,” advises Brad Weber, Founder and CEO of the Avita Group, a specialist in search engine optimization in California. “When you have a good idea of what your competitive SEO landscape looks like, you can begin the following checklist for ranking in the Google Map Pack.”
#1: Improve Your Google My Business Account
Getting to the top of Google’s local pack requires a Google My Business (GMB) listing. The first thing you should do if you do not have a GMB listing yet is to claim or create one. It’s free, so there is no reason not to sign up.
As soon as your GMB listing is claimed, optimize it by filling it out as thoroughly as possible. In addition to your business name, address, and phone number, you should also include:
- Business hours
- Website URL
- Photos of your business in action
- Business categories
- Regular posts (offers or special events)
- A business description
#2: Get Your Listing Verified
The map below the local pack shows the physical location of each of the three businesses in the local pack. Verify your business with Google to increase the chances of it showing up there and having an accurate location pin. Verified businesses are prioritized by Google in local listings.
Verifying your account is a simple process, so don’t worry.
You won’t be able to edit some areas of your GMB listing until you verify your address. You must complete this step.
In addition, you cannot rank in the Google Map Pack of your target city unless you have a brick-and-mortar business verified at an address there.
You will be prompted to verify your business address once you enter your address. Within five business days, you should receive a postcard from Google that contains a verification code.
When you receive it, you will enter that code into your listing. Once that happens, you are officially verified. If you do run into any issues, you can find detailed instructions about verification on Google’s support page.
#3: Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
With your business address verified, you’ll have access to add photos, videos, and additional information to your GMB listing.
It won’t be enough to claim your profile to start being visible in the 3-Pack. Make sure your business information is as complete as possible.
This process includes uploading photos to GMB regularly, entering the complete and correct information in all relevant categories, and entering a robust description of your business that provides valuable details about the products and services it provides.
Here is your chance to get creative with your keywords, so finding a unique way to incorporate them into your copy will allow you to get the most out of your listing.
#4: Focus on Location Information and Local Citations
The following step is best suited for companies with only one or a couple of locations in an area. You should include as much information about your address and location as possible.
Make sure that every page of your website has this information. Your website should include operating hours, special promotions, local news, and other ways to connect with your community.
Your “About Us” page can even include your own Google Maps app, so people know exactly where to find you.
Your website is viewed as more credible by digital search engines, such as Google, as a result of this information. Your SEO efforts can then be directed to that town or city.
You should also be aware of Google SEO changes that may have recently occurred as those changes can also adversely affect your rankings.
Connecting your brand with a certain city will increase your chances of climbing up the ranks.
You can increase your visibility by remaining consistent across these sites, local blogs, and even your community’s social media pages. The more your website or brand is mentioned, the more likely it is to come up in Google’s search engine results.
Improve your Google Map Pack ranking by targeting these SEO strategies to a local area. Or you can hire a professional search engine optimization company so you can focus your efforts elsewhere.
#5: Work to grow your online reviews
Citations, or references to your business information, on online listings websites, enhance the credibility of your business. Citations for your website and GMB listing should be consistent.
Google also values positive online reviews (and lots of them).
If you have many, great! You’re on the right track.
In the event you have a lot of negative reviews, you may need to perform damage control by partnering with an online reputation management ORM company.
#6: Optimize Your Website
For your website to reach the top of Google’s local pack, it needs to be optimized for search engines (SEO). The higher your website ranks in organic search results, the better your local ranking and chances of appearing in the local pack.
Below are ways to improve your website’s local SEO ranking:
- A site map, title tags, and meta descriptions should be included on your website. With these elements, Google can crawl your website more easily.
- In your tags, meta descriptions, and web copy, mention your city or the area you serve. Search engines can match your location with those searched by users.
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Mobile devices make up 57% of web traffic, and Google prefers mobile-friendly sites. Assess your website’s mobile-friendliness with Google’s mobile-friendly test.
- Ensure that your website uses images with appropriate alt text. Use descriptive alt text in your images to make them more appealing.
- Your website’s URL should clearly indicate what’s on each page. Consider a URL like www.mensshoes.com/athletic/running. There is a clear hierarchy on the website, as well as what it is about.
It won’t take a web conversion expert to see that your traffic and leads will increase once your business is in the local pack.
#7: Invest in Growing Your Organic Visibility
There are many factors related to positive results in the Google local 3-pack, such as your website’s links and organic ranking.
If you use SEO to boost your organic rankings, you have a better chance of reaching the first page of search results for your primary keyword.
The result is that potential clients find your site ranking prominently when they search for relevant keywords, prompting them to click and learn more about what you have to offer.
#8: Use Google My Business Posts to Increase Click Through Rate
Click-through rate (CTR) is one of the most important metrics for GMB listings. It measures how many people click on the map or listing in search results.
Consistent activity is essential once your GMB listing is up and running. It’s no surprise that Google prefers listings with recent, relevant content; leveraging this generates a higher GMB click-through rate.
Make sure you keep these two elements in mind when setting up your Google My Business listing:
- Consistently maintain NAP (name, address, place). Ensure that your business information is consistent across your website and Google. Keep your phone number and address in the same format and capitalize your name.
- Make sure your description contains keywords. Keywords should describe the type of services that you offer.
#9: When All Else Fails, Place an Ad
You might notice there’s an advertisement in the Google Map Pack image following a local search. If all else fails, you can always buy your way to the top. If you’re interested in taking a shortcut, we recommend that you look into Google Ads.
Although organic rankings in the Map Pack have better click-through than paid placements, getting your name out there is never a bad thing.
How Avita Group Can Help
Keeping these changes in mind doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically land in the local pack, especially if there is plenty of competition in your area.
However, following these tips will improve your ranking chances. Your business will also appear more trustworthy to potential customers.
While these tips may seem simple, they aren’t necessarily easy. Asking for reviews often isn’t easy. Updating listings across hundreds of websites can be challenging. Business owners have many other responsibilities.
Fortunately, you don’t have to handle everything alone. We can help you to get new reviews, fix your listings across hundreds of websites, and attract more customers. Check out what Avita Group can do for you here.
ABOUT AVITA GROUP
Avita Group is a digital marketing firm based in Calabasas, California. We specialize in organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign management, Online Reputation Management (ORM), website creation and conversion optimization.
The Avita Group team boasts a collective experience of over 25 years in the industry and has worked with a variety of multi-million dollar companies to help them improve their ROI, build better brand awareness, and mitigate negative online reviews and results.
Contact us today for a free consultation.