Local SEO focuses on reaching customers in your business’s local geographic area. While not necessarily the main focus for e-commerce businesses, it is vital for companies that have brick-and-mortar locations or that service specific areas. Local search engine optimization can help your business increase both your web traffic and your foot traffic.
How Google Ranks Local Results
While Google is very secretive about how it ranks its organic search results, it is much more open about how it ranks local results. There are three main characteristics that it looks for when deciding how to rank listings. They are relevance, distance, and prominence.
Relevance is determined by how well your Google Business Profile (GBP) matches someone’s search. The more complete and detailed information you can add about your business, the easier Google will be able to match your profile to relevant searches.
Google figures out distance based on how far a search result is from the location term used in the search. If the search itself doesn’t contain a location, Google calculates distance based on what they do know about the searcher’s location.
Finally, prominence is how well-known Google considers a business to be. This is the most complicated factor to influence since the algorithm also tries to include offline prominence in its calculations.
What Is Google’s Local Pack or Map Pack?
Think about a time you were out and about and searched for something you needed. Maybe you typed into Google “restaurants near me” or “restaurants in x city.” When Google detects that you are looking for something local, the Map Pack results will show up prominently on the first page of your results. These results show up before all the other organic content because Google has detected that you have a local, immediate need. It has determined that information like business name, address, phone number, and customer reviews will be more relevant to you than simply a link to the company’s website.
On Google, your goal should be to make your listing in the Local Pack/Map Pack rank higher and appear more often for more queries.
Even if you do not know this feature by name, you are more than likely familiar with it in practice. The Local Pack, which is also called the Map Pack, appears on the first page of results for any local search. It shows up as a map of businesses nearby that may fit the search. The coveted position is to be in the first three results, which automatically show up and feature customer reviews, a short description, and the location. Users can click to see more results, but the first three get shown automatically.
Why Should You Care About These Results?
These results may be more important to certain businesses or industries, but it can benefit any business that is looking to strengthen its local visibility. It offers businesses a boosted presence, placing them at the top of a search engine results page (SERP) that it may not have been able to reach using SEO alone.
In addition, the Local Pack makes it extremely easy for users to find your business’s most important information. Instead of clicking through to your website and attempting to find your phone number, it will be presented to them right away. Information like a business’s website, hours, address, and phone number are all easily accessible. For businesses that are looking for click-to-call referrals, this is a critical way to reach their goals.
Google Map Pack and Google My Business
Now you may be wondering, how do you get into the Google Map Pack? The answer is by claiming your Google My Business page. If you haven’t done so already, it is quite a simple process. After you take control of the listing, the best thing to do is to optimize your profile. This will help you achieve maximum visibility.
Luckily, Google itself has shared multiple tips for improving your odds of showing up in the Local Pack for specific searches.
Enter Thorough Information
First, you should enter as much information about your company as possible. The more details you add, the more likely Google’s algorithm will be to favor you. Make sure it includes your physical address, your business category, and the key features of your business. All of this information is what Google uses to determine your relevance to a particular search.
Verify Your Location
When you enter your business’s location, Google offers the ability to go through a verification process to ensure it is accurate. This is an extremely important step to take as it affects your organic search ranking and your visibility in Google Maps as well as your Local Pack results. You can check your verification status and complete the process by visiting your Google My Business page.
Including photos in your listing helps expand on the information that can be found in the Local Pack. Searchers find these very important in their decision whether to visit a business or not. You should include pictures of your storefront, the interior, your menu if you are a restaurant, and even your employees.
Keep Up to Date
Finally, it is very important that you don’t set up your profile and then forget about it. If at any point you end up changing your business’s hours, make sure you update them on Google! This is also true for holidays. Google gives you the chance to verify your holiday hours, which helps Google present reliable results during that time of year.