Conquering the New Google Maps Local Pack
The Google “local pack,” which presents local business information to users when they conduct a relevant search, was updated in 2015 to reduce the number of results shown to search users. Previously inclusive of 7 local businesses, today the local pack features only three of the most highly relevant local businesses in the local pack. So, how does a company make sure that its address and contact information is still presented to users who are searching for that information? There are a few key guidelines to follow in order to make sure that this continues to happen on a consistent basis.
- Keep Contact Information On the WebsiteThe best way to make sure that Google considers a company both local and relevant is to make sure that its local address is featured in a key area of the website, along keyword-focused content that is relevant to the services or product provided to customers. Remember, even the “local pack” is about search engine optimization and top rankings. By pairing keywords with key details about the company’s location and operating hours, Google will be more likely to feature the business among the top three results for users in a given location.
- Consider Separate Location PagesThings are a bit different for local businesses that operate multiple locations. While a general list of locations might be a good way of gaining Google’s attention and making it into the top 3 “local pack” results, it’s not generally considered a best practice for consistent results. Instead, consider making a separate page for each location. The page can contain the physical address, operating hours, and other information about the location. To really capture Google’s attention, consider integrating each page into social media and promoting local reviews or other types of engagement.
- Pay Attention to Off-Page Location SignalsFrom Yelp and TripAdvisor to Google+ reviews and Foursquare tip pages, it’s important to make sure that location information is accurate on third-party websites as well. Website administrators and SEO professionals should pay careful attention to review sites and local review directories that contain address and contact information. Additionally, third-party tools should be used to monitor keyword relevance and rankings of these pages in Google search results for the company and its various locations.
- Optimize the Google Maps ListingOn-page data is crucial to the relevance and top-3 ranking of a local company’s information in the “local pack,” but it’s not the only way to enhance what customers see. Every company has the ability to “own,” and therefore optimize, their Google Maps listing. Information that can be controlled includes the local address, phone number, operating hours, and review-based star rating. All of this information can be tightly controlled and optimized, right down to the top-notch level of customer service that will inspire customers to leave favorable reviews for the company using Google’s local reviews feature. This is especially important now that Google no longer requires a Google+ account in order to write and submit such reviews.
- Go Offline to Get More Inbound LinksFinally, don’t forget the importance of offline networking to online performance in the “local pack” box. Google favors links from “.edu” sites, nonprofits, charities, and fellow local businesses, and one of the best ways to cultivate such links is by getting involved in the community, joining a local business association, and providing great service to organizations that can provide added visibility to the business online and off.
By embracing a well-rounded strategy that encompasses online and offline networking, consistent search engine optimization efforts, and careful Google Maps listing maintenance, the smaller “local pack” feature can be managed and turned into a success story.