If you have been spending quite some time with SEO, you probably know about Google’s local pack listings. Looking at local search results, you will notice a section that lists the name, address, phone number and map link of several businesses. This is referred to as the local pack. The section was named so because it used to include 3 different locations for a specific search.
There are many reasons why pack listings are showing up the way they are, the most significant of which is Google’s effort to provide the best search experience for users. Search engines are always looking forward to provide the most relevant catalog of results (businesses) for end users, which means they usually focus on what they deem are the most important and relevant sites. While this may seem just another way to increase the hurdles that businesses have to jump through to make an appearance in SERPs, this is actually Google’s way to serve end users better and point them to the businesses that they are looking for.
They way Google determines which businesses to include in their local pack listings has a lot to do with different factors that also determines general search optimization. Many speculate about site-link connections, result query stability, big brand connections, entity connections, but in the end, only Google knows for sure how these results are generated. The best rule of thumb to follow to ensure your best performance in local searches is to claim your business through Google. The simple task is to create a Google Plus local business page, and ask to be found on local listings. Participating in social media with a completely filled out social profile, maintaining your website, and ensuring consistency when prominently featuring or listing your address all help you strengthen your local SEO campaign. Instead of obsessing about getting a spot in the local pack results, it is best to focus on your local optimization efforts, which is likely to affect your chances in getting prominently listed in these results anyway.
Whether you are a small startup or a huge name in your particular niche, here are some things you should pay attention to when trying to dominate local searches:
- Make sure you are recognized and classified as a local business. Determining how your company or business is categorized by Google is important so you can start aligning your SEO efforts accordingly, or fix its designation if wrongfully classified. Any local business with a storefront or an office where clients are attended to can be classified as local business. However, if your business provides services on a nationwide scale, Google might not see it as a local operation. Claiming your Google My Business page as a local business is important so the engine can classify and index you accordingly. Your GMB should be properly optimized with all your important information as well as an effective business description. It is also important to pick out relevant categories for your business without necessarily spamming your business page.
- Keeping your information consistent means using the same phone number, address, and basic information on all directories and places that you submit your business to. This also means using the same wording, tone and style to create the feeling of continuity and establish your branding. You must avoid typographical errors and discrepancies, especially when it comes to your NAP information (name, address, phone number). Consistency is the key to establishing a strong online image and promoting brand recognition.
- Finally, optimize the listings with keywords. While having a sizeable network of listings is good, it is more important to optimize your local and social media profiles for the right keywords. Choose keywords that will most likely point you to tightly targeted traffic from the local area you wish to reach out to. Think like your potential customer and examine the most popular keywords used in your niche.