When you’re a local business, getting found in Google for local searches is essential. If you’re a restaurant in Seattle for instance, you’ve got to show up for “Seattle restaurants” searches, or those patrons will go somewhere else.
These local searches bring up a map with three local results called the “Local Pack.” These spots in search are coveted because of the amount of visibility you’ll get if you’re ranked there.
So, what can you do to get listed in one of these top spots? Here are five things you can do to work on grabbing a spot in the Local Pack.
Constantly Update Your Google My Business Listing
First, you need to get your Google My Business listing as filled out as possible. Fill out every piece of it, make sure to upload images, and include a video. Make sure everything is filled out, including your business hours and attributes, and pick the best possible categories. Make sure the first category is the one that’s most relevant to your business, as that’s the one that will be displayed. For help choosing the right categories, read Google’s Categories Guide.
Once your listing is all filled out, that’s great, but don’t forget about it! You need to keep it updated often in order to have the best chance of being ranked in the Local Pack.
Google recently rolled out Posts, a feature that allows you to put an update in your Google My Business dashboard that’ll show up in your Knowledge Panel. Think of it like a Facebook update – it’s very similar. This should be updated once every week, as posts will disappear after being up for one week.
When creating a post, think critically about what your audience might be looking for. They’re finding you in local search, so think about how that affects what they want to see. For help writing posts, read Google’s guide.
Get Great Reviews
Your Google reviews can’t be ignored anymore. It’s time to put some time and energy into getting a higher number of great reviews on Google.
According to a recent study, “if a keyword is found in reviews of your business, or if your location is mentioned in a review, those enhance your rankings in the search results.” Not only that, but your click-through rate will improve if your star rating improves and your number of reviews increases.
Think of your own organic search habits. If you’re looking for a local store or restaurant, do you tend to click more often on the ones with great ratings and lots of good reviews?
Create a plan for getting more Google reviews. Whether it’s contacting some of your most recent satisfied customers or sending out a survey to everyone who makes a purchase or enters into a contract with you, it’s time to start asking for reviews. People are likely to give you a review if you ask!
Build Local Citations & Links with NAP Consistency
Citations are mentions of your business across the web. They might have a link to your website, or they might not. If they do, the link is often nofollow. However, citations are still important for your business because they reinforce your business’s existence and its location.
Examples of local citation sites include YellowPages, FourSquare, Manta, and Angie’s List. It’s best to create listings on as many citation sites as possible, but at least go through the top ones. You can find a list here of the top 50 citation sites.
Building links on local websites is also an awesome way to bolster your local presence. Examples of local links would include a link in a directory of local businesses on a city website, or a link in a list of Chamber of Commerce members, or a link on a school website because you’ve sponsored a local team.
When building citations and links, remember NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency. This is extremely important, so listen up! EVERY mention of your business on the web should have the same name, address, and phone number, formatted the same way.
Another great way to bolster the fact that you’re a local business is to tell Google that you’re a local business in the code on your website. Schema markup code is way to show Google a variety of things about your business. One of the ways you can use Schema is to tell Google where you’re located by putting code around your address on your location page and/or in your footer, or anywhere your address is located on your website.
Optimize Your Website with Local Keywords
We all know the importance of having a site that uses proper SEO techniques. If you’re a local business, this should definitely include some local keywords.
If you have only one location, you can (tastefully) use location-based keywords across your site. Remember, there’s no need to keyword stuff! Keep it natural.
If you have multiple locations, best practice is to have each location listed on your site, if not a specific page for each location.
Now, you’re ready to work on getting one of those Local Pack spots!