- Following pandemic-driven shopping trends, many local businesses were forced to investigate online marketing opportunities.
Google provides a few excellent opportunities for a local business to be discovered via organic search.
- Google’s Local 3 Pack is a search element that displays the top three local businesses based on your search query.
- To rank in the Local 3 Pack, make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date and active.
- Third-party local business listings (such as Yelp and Tripadvisor) may also drive organic search visibility, so claim your business there.
Following the pandemic, local marketing has become an even more popular topic. Many local businesses that previously relied on foot traffic were forced to turn to the internet in order to be found by customers. This need for digital transformation presented a significant challenge to almost any local business – how to be found online?
Step 1: Create a Google My Business profile for your company.
Google provides massive organic search visibility to local businesses via the Local 3 Pack, which appears on top of organic results when search intent reflects the purchase (or doing) of something locally.
Google’s Local 3 pack is a search element that displays three relevant businesses from Google Maps results:
It is not easy to rank your company in the Local 3 Pack. It is heavily reliant on the businesses’ proximity to the customer’s current location.
There are, however, a few things you can do to boost your local rankings:
- Make sure you have a detailed (and unique) description of your company and what you do.
- Include your website (oftentimes Google would grab text from the associated website and rank a business based on that content). There are also a few excellent plugins that allow you to embed your local listing on your website for increased visibility.
- Upload images and videos of your office, team, and work environment to provide customers and searchers with a more complete picture of your company.
- Add your products and services (Note: Services are not thought to have a significant (or any) impact on your local rankings, but why not include them anyway?)
- Maintain as many relevant business categories as possible, as they can harm your local rankings.
Above all, keep an eye on your Google reviews.
Business reviews are known to be important for your local (and thus Local 3 Pack) rankings, so keep an eye on them and respond to all of them.
Please keep in mind that Google may remove your review if they discover you used manipulative or misleading tactics to obtain those reviews, such as:
- If that review is repeated across other business profiles on other websites (which, by the way, is perfectly natural… I’ll be the first to admit that I might leave the same review for my favorite business on a few platforms where I’m registered. But, once again, I believe we’re talking about suspicious patterns here rather than individual cases.)
- If you suddenly received a flood of positive feedback,
- If Google suspects you and your team are reviewing your company while pretending to be customers.
While you may notice your competitors employing these manipulative tactics with no discernible negative impact on their rankings, I would still advise you to avoid them at all costs.
You can invite your customers to review your business on Google using a short URL that is specific to your local business and even include it on your business card – QR codes can help with this. However, you are not permitted to request positive (five-star) reviews or to segment your customer base in order to invite only happy customers to review you.
If you have the means, investing in Google Maps ads is also a good idea. This may result in more customers and reviews.
Step 2: Make your business profile available everywhere else.
While claiming your business is generally a good idea to gain more control over your branded content, it also provides you with additional organic exposure because those listings may rank in organic search results, bringing you additional exposure.
As a result, your next step should be to identify important local directories (such as Trip Advisor and Yelp) and claim your business everywhere.
Here’s a long list of options for you to consider.
Almost any local business will need to ensure a strong Yelp presence, for example, so that they are always at the top of your list. Yelp marketing is difficult, but if you start getting reviews there, there is a way to display those reviews on your website to increase conversions.
When it comes to putting your company on maps,
- Ensure that your company’s name and address are consistent across all channels, including phone number format.
- Fill out all of the available fields and use all of the available characters! In general, more content means higher rankings for your listings!
- Check your listings for reviews, add updates, and make sure your business information is up to date.