Growing an online presence today is just as important for local business owners as it is for regional or worldwide ones.
Yet, with fewer resources, human and financial, you may be finding this to be a challenge or even feel hopeless.
You do have options, though, and one of the best ways to raise your online visibility today is also free.
You just need to take action.
Essentially, it’s all about appearing in the Google Local Pack, which sits at the top of a user’s search results page, steering local business your way.
To get there, you’ll need to focus on optimization specifically geared toward the Local Pack as part of your local SEO strategy.
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What is the Google Local Pack?
The Google Local Pack is a listing of three local businesses that appears in the top section of the search engine results page or SERP. It appears in response to a user’s search query if that query involves local intent.
The Google algorithm considers relevance, distance, and prominence in its calculations and determines that this listing includes the most relevant results.
The Local Pack stands out on the page, quickly catching the eyes of the searcher and staying top of mind. As a result, it can lead to higher business awareness, sales, and in-store traffic.
Why You Should Care About Google’s Local Pack
As a local business, appearing in the Local Pack has important benefits.
These benefits include:
- Increases your visibility, and this can be significant.
- Engages with your local audience.
- Boosts your online presence.
- Serves as a shortcut to reaching the top of SERP listings, a feat you might not be able to accomplish through local SEO alone.
- Provides a way to outrank your competitors.
- Gets you noticed ahead of the bigger chains.
In addition, being in the Google Local Pack increases the chances that the person who entered the search query will move to interact with your business in one way or another.
This interaction may be a clicking on your URL, obtaining directions to your front door, or initiating a call to your business phone number.
Another benefit relates to mobile users. Since the Local Pack takes up more of the smartphone screen, pushing other results out of immediate sight, you are automatically considered by the viewer.
This benefit is significant because approximately half of all those searching online on a mobile device will interact at some point, either now or in the future, with those businesses showing at the top of the SERP.
Local Pack Features
Distinctive features appear in the Google Local Pack, and these include the following.
The three local businesses at the top of the SERP are accompanied by a map, with pinpoints showing users the physical location of each one.
Information informing the searcher how they can find you, either in person or online, accompanies the listing and includes:
- physical address
- phone number
- link to website
Average Review Rating
The average review rating for each business is displayed, alerting searchers to how the public perceives them.
Higher ratings can attract new customers who feel more comfortable knowing that past customers are pleased with their experience with the business.
On mobile devices, a click-to-call button appears for each of the three businesses in the Local Pack. When a searcher clicks on one, it opens up the phone app so they can place the call immediately.
Link to More Results
At the bottom of the Local Pack, viewers have the option to click on the “More Places” option and see additional businesses beyond the top three.
All of these included features aid the searcher in finding the information they need quickly. It also helps to simplify and quicken the decision-making process.
Optimizing for Google’s Local Pack Best Practices
To help your chances of reaching Google Local Pack status, there are digital marketing steps you can take and best practices to follow for optimizing your site.
Create or Claim and Update your Google My Business Profile
If you haven’t already created or claimed an already existing Google My Business (GMB) profile, this is your first step.
If it matches one already included, you will need to claim it as belonging to your business.
Often, a GMB listing is created without your input, usually as a result of data parsed from other online listings.
If your business is not found, however, it’s time to register it.
Input Full Information About Your Business
Next, optimize the information in your GMP profile.
The more complete it is, the more the search engine’s algorithm will recognize and even favor you.
Accuracy is key here, so take the extra time to ensure you input everything fully and correctly, starting with the NAP – Name, Address, and Phone.
Enter your business hours and make sure they match with what is already on your website. The business category is the next area to focus on.
Whatever you enter here is crucial to how you will be defined by Google and matched to corresponding search queries.
Also, create a concise business description and incorporate your keywords. Remember that every piece of information you include in your GMB profile can greatly influence visibility.
Google uses all of it to determine whether or not your business is relevant and a good match for a specific search.
Verify Location Address
Increase your chances of being recognized by verifying your local address.
Google provides an easy verification process to ensure accuracy when it comes to all location addresses.
You will need to fill out their application then expect to receive a verification code in the mail in as short as three to five days.
With this verification, you have a higher likelihood of showing up in the Local Pack and also on the map pin that appears with the name of your business.
Add High-Quality Photos to Your GMB Profile
Photos of your business provide more information to the viewer and play a significant role in who they choose.
For this reason, add high-quality photos showing your business in the most favorable light.
For example, include a storefront photo so searchers can recognize your business immediately upon arrival.
Include interior shots showcasing your offerings. If you are a restaurant, also include your menu.
Determine what it is about your business that stands out, and provide images for searchers.
Glancing at these photos provides searchers with more information to make their decision and whether they want to visit or interact with you.
Make Updates Regularly
Constantly monitor your GMB profile and update information with every change.
For example, update hours if you extend them or change the days you are open. Also, include official holidays and any special hours you initiate for a temporary time.
If you’re a restaurant or caterer, update any changes to your menu. If you change the exterior or interior of your business, upload new photos to stay current.
Engage with Online Reviews
Online customer reviews can enhance your business’ reputation and alert potential customers that you are liked.
The Google algorithm values customer reviews and also those businesses that regularly respond or engage with those customer reviews. This interaction is seen as providing good customer service, which is always a plus.
Monitor these online reviews closely and determine how you can respond to each one.
Encourage More Comments, Reviews, and Clicks
Without customer comments or clicks on your GMB profile, your visibility can fade away and lose favor with Google algorithms.
Encourage customers directly to leave reviews on your profile. Provide them with a link on receipts or ask them in person once they interact with your business.
These reviews can positively drive more traffic to your local business.
Add Posting, Messaging, and Q&A Options
Your GMB listing offers additional options, like posting and messaging. You can also offer a Question & Answer section.
These options create engagement opportunities for your business and can contribute to a higher ranking in search results, helping you land in the Local Pack.
Optimize Your Business Website
In addition to your GMB listing, also optimize your business website for local search.
For this, you will need to incorporate best practices for content, link authority, and SEO.
Wrap Up: Increase Your Chances for Ranking in Google Local Pack
It’s no longer a secret that the Google algorithm recognizes and favors GMB profiles that are well optimized. With focus, determination, and taking the right actions when it comes to your SEO, you can increase the overall chances of being part of the Google Local Pack and coming out on top.
Not sure where you are currently in your SEO and where you need to go next? Take our quick SEO maturity assessment and learn more.