People in your locality continue to use search engines to find products and services. But the question is: can they easily find you? For example, run a search for Atlanta digital marketing agency.
Google Map Packs appear when searchers perform local searches before links to websites, showing important details of businesses that they are looking for to strike up engagement with you now.
It used to be that up to seven businesses appeared in a local search result, but it is now limited to show only three results. This means that there is heavier competition between businesses to appear in the top 3- especially for lucrative keywords. So run a search on your type of business and see if it shows up. Then ask yourself- is it worth it to appear in the Google Map Packs?
We say yes. And when you consider that 4 in 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines, then you’d probably agree with me.
Furthermore, 50% of people who browse the web perform local searches on their smartphones and 34% of tablet/computer users visit a store within a day of performing local search.
Showing up in the top 3 of Google Map Packs is an opportunity for your business to get local customers (leading to more revenue) in a short period of time. But what are the steps you need to take to beat your competitors to make it into the top 3?
1. Register a Google My Business page for your business
This is the first step to rank in Google Map Packs. If your business has no Google My Business page, there’s probably zero probability of it showing up in the map packs.
This page is a directory for your business where a prospect can get all the important information they need about your business, like your name, address, and phone number.
Furthermore, reviews and ratings of your business, opening hours, busy hours, photos, and directions about how to get there also appear. And you can add a link to your website where people can get more details about your product and services.
To register your Google My Business page, visit the website and click on “Start Now”.
You are in control of the details like the name of your business, address, and phone number, but keep in mind that local phone numbers work better for appearing in search results than a toll-free number.
You’ll also pick a category for your business. When you’re doing this, be as specific as possible. If you’re confused about a category to pick, then you should check your highly-ranked competitor to see which category they are listed under.
After filling out the important details about your business, you’ll be asked to verify it. There are different ways to do this, by Google either sending a pin code to your physical location or phone number. You can pick any method convenient to you.
When you’re done with the registration, you can gain access to your page. Without verification though, you won’t be able to access all parts of your page. That’s why it’s important to take five minutes to verify your business as soon as possible to have full control of your business page.
After your page registration, there are some parts of your page you need to work on to optimize it. Some are:
Posts: you should use the post options on your page to ensure that your page is regularly updated (with events, updated hours of operation, promotional offers, etc.).
Fortunately, Google provides a template for these. You should make it a point to post to your Google Business page weekly so that your customers have the most updated information.
Reviews: Online reviews give your business credibility and boosts your reputation (stay tuned to learn more).
2. Add your business to local listings
Another way to give your business more credibility is to appear on local listings. According to a study conducted by BrightLocal, having as many listings as possible is important in boosting your ranking.
They found that local businesses that rank at the top of Google local search results have an average of 86 local hits. Likewise, local businesses that rank in the top 3 have an average of 85 local impressions.
There are many types of listings your business should be a part of. Some of them are:
General listings: these are listings available to every business worldwide and every type of business from everywhere appears here (ex. Facebook and Yelp).
Location-based listings: this could be a directory for a nation or even a city (think Yellow Pages or USdirectory.com). If there’s a listing for businesses in your city, your business should appear on it.
Profession-based listing: there are listings for different industries and professions and appearing in these shows your credibility as a professional. Examples are Doctor.com for medical practices and hospitals and Avvo for lawyers.
While having your business on many local directories is important, keep in mind that it’s equally as important to make sure you have a consistent (and current) name, address, and phone number across all these listings.
When you have different information on different listings, you cause confusion for search engines and your customers, which can also lead to a lower online rank.
Services like BrightLocal can track your local listings and make sure all your business information is current.
3. Have specific and relevant keywords in your Google My Business page and website
If you want to rank high in Google Map Packs, be to include the keywords you want to rank for in your page.
Your keywords should include terms related to your business and the location (usually the city) of your business. This could also be included in your business description or in posts on your page.
However, as tempting as it may be to include your location in the name of your business, you should only do it if that’s how you refer to your business on all listings. Keyword research- and consistency- is a vital part of your overall SEO strategy.
Before you decide on the keywords to insert into your content though, you should do a quick keyword research to see what your potential customers are searching for. The sweet spot to find are keywords with the right intent, high search volume, and low competition.
Apart from having keywords on your Google My Business page, you should also have these keywords on your website as a strategic use of keywords dotted throughout your website will always have a positive impact on your local listings and its rankings. You can see how we did it on our Atlanta SEO Company website.
Hauser-Ross Eye Institute & Surgicenter, a regional eye care provider, performed keyword research and geo-targeted keywords that included spots around them (likea nearby business called “Sycamore”). With this small step, they were able to increase their organic traffic by 52.8% and the number of procedures by 33.5%.
4. Get more reviews
Reviews, especially good ones, are a form of customer endorsement and social proof for your business.
Since the internet is the new word of mouth, the reviews found on your Google My Business page could make or break whether someone decides to use your business or not.
According to BrightLocal, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
A business page without reviews gives an impression of a new, unverified business that has not had any customers. But when a prospect sees reviews on your page, it shows that you are an open and functional entity.
They also show how people feel about your service before they spend their hard-earned money on it.
In most cases, Google will rank a page with reviews higher than a page with no reviews. However, reviews don’t always come automatically, no matter how happy your customers are.
This is because most customers never think about leaving a review. You have to remind them. And most of the time, if they’ve had a good experience, then they’ll be happy to share it with the online community. 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked.
Of course, not every customer will leave a positive review. However, the negative reviews help you to see where your business can improve and if the positive reviews outnumber the negative ones, then you know you’re on the right track.
By encouraging her happy clients to leave Google reviews and implementing other strategies, Dani Weiss was able to rank first in keywords that really helped her local wedding business like “Seattle wedding photographer,” “Seattle wedding photographers,” etc.
5. Make your website mobile-friendly
Most web searches today are done on mobile devices. And therefore the same thing applies to local SEO. With Google’s mobile-first indexing, a website that has a poor mobile view will not only struggle to get local search traffic, but any search traffic at all.
Even if your website manages to get search traffic, most of those visitors will bounce out of your site within 30 seconds of visiting it.
Not having a responsive website sends a negative signal to search engines and your rankings will go down quickly. Your website has to be mobile-responsive which means it has to adapt to the size of any screen viewing it.
You can use Google’s mobile-friendly test to check if your website is friendly to users.
To do this, visit the page and enter your website address. Click on the “Run Test” button.
This will show you whether your page is mobile-friendly or not. But even if your page is mobile-friendly, it doesn’t mean it’s perfect. If there are issues with your page, you can see it at the top of your test results and then if you click on “View Details,” you’ll see what you need to correct.
Apart from this, there are other useful links and information in your mobile-friendly test. Clicking on the “Open site-wide mobile usability report” link will take you to the Google Console which will show if there’s any errors in mobile usability on your website.
By optimizing their mobile site and other strategies, HGB was able to rank first for competitive terms like “Construction and Maintenance” and “Handyman services.”
6. Have relevant content on your website
The basic foundation for your local Atlanta SEO efforts is your website content. How relevant is your content to searchers in your area? There are problems that potential customers are looking to solve and you want to be ranked high enough for these people to find you and help solve their problems. Therefore,your content must be able to explain to potential customers how your product will meet their immediate needs.
Your website content should include information about local events, offers, tips, and text that clearly shows what you do and sets you apart from your competitors.
Another trait of quality web content that gets highly ranked is the length. Your content should be long enough to explain a concept in detail. A study by Backlinko showed that an average #1 Google result is a page that is 1,890 words long.
However, this is only an average.Depending on what industry you are in, your business may require longer or shorter content.
The most important thing to remember about your content is to explain the topic in a way that provides knowledge to the reader that helps solve their problems.
Another factor that affects the length of your posts is the topic you’re covering. You’ll need more words to explain a more general topic compared to a niche topic.
For instance, “A guide to content marketing” will usually be longer than “How to add an image to your WordPress post”.
Having said that, writing your headline and meta description are major parts of creating quality content as it provides the summary of your post and shares a preview of what readers will gain by clicking to view the whole post (don’t forget to include pertinent keywords and location).
Another aspect of quality online content is to create pages with testimonials, tutorials on how to use your product, case studies, and include a FAQs page. And keep in mind that whatever appears on your Google My Business page should also appear on your website.
7. Earn local backlinks
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking signals on Google and equally as important for your local search ranking. To earn local backlinks in your area, your business has to be known.
A few ways to do this are:
Guest blogging on local blogs: you can use Google to search for blogs in your area and offer to write guest posts for them, linking your business in the blog.
Blogger outreach: another way to earn backlinks is to contact bloggers in your area to write about your business. For instance, you can send your product to them as a gift in exchange for a genuine review.
Participation in local events: hosting or attending events in your region give your business more publicity and the opportunity to network as it allows you to connect with more business owners, journalists, and bloggers. If these people write about their experience with your business online and link back to your website, then it’s a win-win.
To get more publicity and earn local links, a DUI attorney decided to offer a scholarship to Colorado students who admitted to drunk driving. This news was picked up by The Denver Post and eventually The Wall Street Journal.
Getting your business to rank on Google Map Packs is one of the quickest ways to gain local customers and easy conversions for your business, because most of the people searching for local terms are ready to buy almost immediately.
Follow these steps and impress all the local customers who will be pleased to find what they are looking for right at their back door.