This post was last updated on March 21, 2023.
An incredibly effective way to market your business locally is through local search engine optimization, or local SEO. This form of marketing helps promote your products and services to a local customer set. Google has specific local ranking factors to determine your business’s relevance to a local search query. This means you won’t always have to worry about competing against large corporations.
Local SEO efforts help increase the visibility of your business online, resulting in more online customer visits, more sales, and more foot traffic too! Local SEO can impact your bottom-line goals and is definitely something you need to invest in if your company has any sort of local focus.
What Is Google’s Local Pack?
The Local Pack can significantly help your business improve traffic to your website by way of the visibility you receive from the platform. With approximately 99% of consumers in the past year using search engines to locate local businesses, it is now more important than ever to ensure that your company is being recognized by Google in this way.
The Local Pack is the part of Google’s search engine results that displays local companies based on your search query. Google will show at least the top three local businesses that may answer the query based on factors such as your search phrase and proximity to the business itself. Google’s Local Pack will typically appear when you insert locally-focused keywords such as “near me,” “close by,” or even the specific city you are located in, but it will also show up for more general searches as well.
Below is an example of Google’s Local Pack for the search query “pizza shops near me.”
According to Search Engine Land, one study shows that the Local Map Pack (or “3-Pack”) is the #1 result 93% of the time. This means that if your company ranks in the Local Pack, most of the time you will be displayed in the first result of a local search. The visibility that this provides your company to consumers can be vital to your growth online.
Additionally, in a past Moz case study, researchers found that:
- 44% of people clicked on the Local Pack
- 29% clicked on organic results
- 19% clicked on paid results
From this study, it is clear that Google’s Local Pack can dramatically increase traffic to your site and revenue for your business, even more than standard organic results and pay-per-click ads can.
How to Rank in the Local Pack
Now that you’ve discovered the importance of ranking in Google’s Local Pack, here’s how you can actually rank within it. Though there is no single guaranteed way to rank in the Local Pack, our team has compiled a list of things that will certainly increase the probability that you’ll be able to make it happen.
To maximize your opportunity to appear in the Local Pack, creating (or “claiming” if there is already a listing on Google for your company) a Google Business Profile is your first and most important step. A Google Business Profile, or GBP, is a free tool to help companies manage their online profile on Google’s search results and in Google Maps.
Next, optimizing the content on your profile is what will set you apart from your competitors and help you rank over them in the Local Pack. Here are some steps for optimizing your company’s GBP:
1. Fill Out Your Profile Entirely
Businesses with complete and accurate information are more likely to match for relevant local search queries. Making sure that you have entered all of your information is essential for customers to know who you are and what you do.
You should provide information on your physical location, contact information, products/services, and industry category. This way, potential customers will know exactly what you do and how they can reach you.
2. Keep Your Hours Accurate and Up-to-Date
Be sure to enter and update your business hours so customers know that when they reach out or visit, they will get a response and your business will be open. Also, include special hours for holidays so there’s no confusion.
3. Responding and Managing Your Reviews
Did you know that, according to Oberlo, nine out of ten individuals consult online reviews when it comes to researching local businesses? And out of that 90%, 49% of researchers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation?
Because of this, it is important to note that online reviews can be crucial to ensuring your business gets that coveted spot in the Local Pack; reviews are by far one of the most valuable ranking signals in Google’s local search algorithm. Positive reviews from previous customers will increase your visibility and showcase a trustworthy and honest relationship. When potential customers read these, they will be much more likely to choose your business.
Additionally, it’s important to respond to all reviews whether they are positive or negative. Neglecting to answer negative concerns is only harmful to your business. The best approach for negative reviews is to apologize for whatever issue the customer faced, and then ask that they contact you via phone number or email. That way, you can show you are proactive in tackling the situation, but you keep all details (and potential conflicts) offline.
When approaching negative reviews for your business, it is important not to censor them from the public. This is because 62% of consumers say that they will not support and engage with brands that do so. This is different from fraudulent, or “spammy” reviews, which we recommend reporting if need be.
4. Include Photos
Add photos to your Google Business Profile to show users your products and services. These photos should be clear and original photos that are provided by your company. The use of stock photos can come across as “spammy,” and you could be more likely to be reported.
These original photos can also help to capture your company’s values and culture. Appealing photos can attract future customers and encourage an investment in your company and its services!
Additional Tips for Ranking Locally
Besides optimizing your Google Business Profile, some of the things that your company can do to boost the likelihood of ranking in the Local Pack include the following:
- Embed Google Maps on your website – Once you have a Google Maps listing, embed the map on whatever page you see fit. Learn more about how to embed a Google Map onto a web page.
- Obtain locally relevant links – Receiving high-authority links from websites local to your area will further drive organic traffic to your website. Along with the local relevance, it is important to build backlinks overall to further build your own trust and authority.
- Write locally-focused content on your site – If your business has multiple locations, it’s important to create individual pages for each of them on your site using city-specific keywords. The more local content you write – location pages, blog posts, etc. – that is relevant to your business, the better; these serve as important on-site local ranking factors for Google.
How Google Will Determine Local Rankings
Google rewards businesses with Local Pack rankings based on a website’s prominence, proximity, and relevance. All of these factors combined will determine your ranking.
This factor refers to how well-known a business is, taking into account both online and offline prominence. For example, famous landmarks or brands are more likely to show up in the Local Pack because of their popularity.
However, online prominence is a huge factor as well. Google considers all of the information about your company that is on the web, which includes any links, articles, or directories you’re connected to. The more well-known you are on the web, the more likely Google will reward you.
One way that your company can build its prominence online is by obtaining those locally relevant links. You can start by researching and joining various organizations that pertain to your industry. This tactic can help you further build a relationship with your community, as well as receive those valuable local links for your company.
This is relatively self-explanatory, as Google takes into account how far the user’s location is from the businesses related to their search. Sometimes, users will specify a location that isn’t necessarily near them, which is why it is vital to include your current address in your profile. Include local content on your website as well to increase your chances of being boosted in local rankings by Google.
You can further boost your proximity ranking through both structured and unstructured citations. Structured citations would be considered listings that you submit yourself to formal websites, such as Yelp or Angi. On the other hand, unstructured citations are company references on local blogs or news websites.
It is speculated that Google values both of these types of citations, especially structured citations, so we recommend that you incorporate this into your strategy.
Relevance refers to how well a user’s search query matches with your business. Google will display your company if it feels that you are the right match for that given search. The things Google is looking at for relevancy include:
- Content – Do you have web pages that include locally-specific keywords and services? If not, it might be something to consider.
- Review content – If it is reported that users saw value in your business, Google will too.
- Overall On-page SEO – This would include attributes on your website such as title tags, optimized headers, images with alt/title tags, and more.
With this in mind, the optimization of your Google Business Profile is essential to ensure that Google has enough information to rank you for relevant content. Be sure to include an accurate business description with significant keywords!
Why the Google Map Pack Matters
Ranking highly in the Google Local Map Pack can significantly improve your SEO. Depending on what industry you are trying to rank in, ranking in the Google Map Pack can be considered a huge win for such a competitive market, especially if you are the first listing, which experiences the highest click-through rate (CTR) out of all the listings for any given search.
There is no way to get into Google’s Local Pack without focusing on your local SEO efforts. But in doing so, your business can soar online by gaining more relevant traffic and generating more revenue!
Reach out to the team at Sixth City Marketing today for local SEO help. We look forward to working with you!