As digital marketing experts at HenkinSchultz, we keep a close eye on changes within search engines. Google is constantly changing its algorithm in order to make their search engine a valuable place for searchers to find answers to their questions. Stats continue to show that people are turning to their mobile devices to search for local destinations including terms like “near me”. Optimizing your business’s local SEO with these current mobile trends is as important as ever, especially for the Google Local Pack.
What is the Local Pack and Local Finder?
The local pack is a feature within Google that appears for local search terms. It shows three different businesses that are related to your query. For example, say you are looking for a nice Italian restaurant to try during your next trip to Chicago. Your search phrase in Google might be, Italian restaurants in Chicago. Here’s what you might find as a result to your question.
In the first search you can see that there are three local listings that Google finds relevant to my search. Clicking on “more places” allows you to open up the local finder and find more relevant destinations. The local pack applies to all local searches – from restaurants to mattress stores to dentists.
1. Google My Business: Claim & Keep Your Listing Current
First things first – make sure you have claimed your business on Google. There are a few steps to get your business listing claimed and verified. Google provides a step-by-step guide in order to get your business added or claimed. Once your business is verified, you need to make sure you have the following in your listing:
Include your physical address and make sure that it’s consistent on your website and local directories
- Add a description that is unique to your business and includes links to your website
- Choose one or a few categories that fits your business description
- Add your business phone number that you want to drive traffic to
- Include your business days/hours of operation and holiday hours if relevant
- Upload high quality photos that you would want your potential customers to see
It’s important to note that Google continues to add new features to listings. Recent updates include posts, booking features, a Q&A section, and AMP (aka Google Stories) – which is still in the process of being rolled out. Using these features is a great way to keep your listing fresh. However, don’t add content just to rank higher. Make sure you’re providing high-quality content that is beneficial to your audience. Interacting with your customers through these tools is a great way to understand your audience while improving your position.
2. Enroll Your Business in Local Directories & Consolidate Duplicate Listings
Having your business listing on several online directories helps boost your ranking on search engines. Some citation sites other than Google include: Bing, Yelp!, the Yellow Pages, and many more including ones that are industry-specific.
Before you start signing up for a slough of directories, let’s pause. It’s important to make sure that your listing, especially your NAP (name, address, phone number) is an exact match from site to site. Discrepancies like misspellings, lack of suite number or a wrong number can create a mess when Google can’t determine which information about your business is actually correct. For example, say you manage Chick-fil-A. You want to always keep your name consistent with the dashes, spelling, and having the ‘A’ capitalized in all of your online listings.
Make sure to review the directories you currently utilize. Having multiple listings on one specific directory can actually hurt you. If you discover that you have duplicate listings, it’s important to consolidate them to a listing with a NAP consistent on the rest of your directories.
3. Take A Look at Your On-Page SEO
The content on your website also has an impact on your position within the local pack. Incorporate relevant keywords on your web pages in order to clearly answer your potential customer’s questions. This is especially important with the rise of voice search as well!
In order to support the content on your website, it’s critical to have strong HTML attributes that include your focus keywords. We recommend that your web pages include title and meta description tags that support your content. Align short or long-tail keywords within your H1 tags, H2 tags, page URLs, and image alt tags. To reach your local customers, include your city/region as well a Google Maps pinned location within your website.
4. Build Your Local Links
Building your links for Local SEO is a little different than typical SEO link-building practices. Like normal SEO, the number of different links matter to your organic ranking. What is different with local link-building, is the focus on receiving links from businesses that are geographically near your business location. With local SEO, all local links are relevant, no matter if the industry is different than your business. Practical ways to gain local links include: event sponsorships, local news stations, local directories, and local review sites.
5. Reviews Matter!
Business reviews have a direct impact on your local search rankings, so you need to spend some time acquiring positive remarks from your customers. This doesn’t just mean your Google My Business Page – reviews on third-party pages like Yelp and other online directories are beneficial to your local SEO. Almost as important as receiving reviews is responding to customer reviews, both good and bad.
If your business is not showing up in the local search finder, you’re missing a big opportunity to grow your local business. Give us a call to talk about how we can improve your digital strategy!