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The way we look for brick-and-mortar businesses has changed dramatically over the last decade. When you want to find a child-friendly cafe in a new town, do you ask the locals or jump on Google? And when your washing machine packs in a week before payday, do you drive around to find a late-night laundromat, or check opening times in the SERPs?
For most of us, it’s the latter.
Google’s ‘Local Pack’ (aka Local 3-Pack), is the top three search entries displayed alongside the map in Google’s local SERPs results. And it’s the first thing people’s eyes are drawn to when they make a local search.
In fact, these three results hog total of 47.79% of clicks. So, getting into it should be a top priority for any business that relies on local footfall.
But how can you muscle your way to the top? Here are a few tips to get you started – and it involves a lot more than just great content.
Optimise your Google My Business
Google My Business is where you list your business’s details like location, opening hours, contact details and, well everything else.
But your GMB isn’t just a standard listing. It accounts for 25.12% of your ranking signals for the Local Pack. So it has to be optimized rather than just complete.
Google lists a heap of useful pointers on their FAQ page, but here are the most important ones to consider:
- Register and fully verify your account
- Complete your profile in full, including the Description and opening times
- Optimize your Description for your main keywords
- Ensure your NAP and other profile details are correct and consistent
- Upload decent and up to date photos of the inside and outside of your business
- Collect lots of reviews
Build Accurate Citations
Google wants to know that you have a legitimate business. And one of the ways it verifies this is through the citations you build.
There are two types of citations:
- Structured Citations – NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) details on business directories such as Yelp
- Unstructured Citations – Links or mentions of your business on 3rd party sites, such as blogs and articles.
Both types of citations are useful in different ways. Structured citations confirm the validity and consistency of your location. Whereas, unstructured citations confirm the authority you have within your industry.
Make sure you check whether you have old accounts or listings that contain inaccurate information about your business. These will need to be deleted or updated with your current details, because Google will penalize any inconsistencies.
Encourage and Respond to Reviews
As a business, you want your customers to give you positive reviews… and so does Google.
In fact, reviews have become increasingly important year on year and now represent 15.44% of Local Pack ranking factors.
Your reviews will count towards your chance of getting into the Local Pack. Plus, they determine the star rating that’s displayed with your details and this has a significant impact on your CTR (click-through-rate).
To get the most out of your reviews, you need to have a review strategy in place to encourage and respond to them.
- Sign up to multiple review platforms
- Plug a particular one in your customer communications, e.g. purchase emails
- Advertise your current review rating in your premises and ask people to contribute
- Offer guidance on writing a review so people include relevant information
- Always respond to both positive and negative reviews
Optimize For Voice Search
Voice search is increasing in popularity year-on-year. And the majority of voice queries have local intent.
This trend makes sense if you consider how many people ask their phone for directions while driving, or to find a location while walking.
To optimize for voice search, consider how questions are asked when spoken.
Voice searches tend to use long-tail keywords posed as questions. A voice searcher might say “Where can I get my bike fixed in Corvallis, Oregon?”. But in text, the same query would be “Bike repairs Corvallis, Oregon”.
To optimize your site for voice search, add content to your site using keywords like “how, when, what, and where” in long tail form. The best way to add this type of content to your site is by including an FAQ page.
Be Mobile Friendly
According to research, 82% of mobile users make ‘near me’ searches. Which is why Google has repeatedly introduced algorithm updates that favor mobile users.
So, unless your site is mobile-friendly, Google won’t rank it in the Local Pack.
The best way to fix this is to make sure your site is fully responsive. If it’s not and you don’t have the budget to call in a developer, move your website to a website builder with a responsive theme.
So, if you want to give your business the visibility it deserves, follow these tips to get it in the Local Pack:
- Claim your GMB account
- Build accurate citations
- Encourage reviews
- Optimize for voice search
- Make your site mobile-friendly site