Google’s Local Pack: What is it and how to rankBy Jannat Bensaleh
Getting into the Google Local Pack is the most important thing you can do to help your clients get more phone calls, leads, and customers. 99 percent of the time, the Google Local Pack is in the Top 2 results on Google. The problem is that many businesses aren’t taking advantage of it. Local business owners are really missing out if they aren’t ensuring their business information is optimized for a Google local search.
With 88 percent of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either resulting in a call or visit to the business within 24 hours, not getting a spot in the Google Local Pack, is a huge determinant for success for local businesses.
Before we delve into how to rank in the Local Pack , we’ll cover the basic knowledge needed to understand how it works.
What is the Google Local Pack?
The Google Local Pack, also known as the Google Map Pack, is the result of the top three local business listings which appear in response to search queries for products or services provided by local businesses. This list is different to every user depending on their location. Since this “local pack” is now limited to three results (it used to be seven), marketers are constantly competing for these coveted spots. Google uses an algorithm that prioritizes businesses that provide up-to-date, accurate, and detailed information.
These spots are powerful search elements since the information shown is valuable and relevant to searchers. About 44 percent of searchers click on businesses showcased in the local pack. Different from the organic traditional text-only results underneath the map pack, the local pack displays crucial information such as location address, business hours, photos, average ratings, reviews, and a click-to call option for mobile users.
Features of the Google Local Pack
The local pack has many features, but the most prominent is the map at the top of the screen. It is useful to mobile users who usually have results automatically show the nearest locations. Below the map are Top 3 results with the previously mentioned features. Clear call-to-actions listed on each result are what make the local pack so valuable. Mobile users have a filtering option that helps users narrow down their searches. The Local Pack also allows businesses to highlight on-going deals and reviews. Underneath the Top 3 results are an option for ‘more places’ which garners approximately 8 percent of clicks.
Communicating the value to business owners
Small business owners may not understand the advantages of being in the local pack since about 44 percent of them have not claimed their Google Business Profile (GBP) listing. They need to be aware of missed opportunities to increase their website traffic and improve SEO performance. Google’s algorithm prioritizes businesses that are ‘truly’ local to users. This means that if business owners optimize their business information, Google will list their business in the local pack over the big chains in an effort to give Google users the best experience.
It’s an opportunity for local businesses to increase foot traffic, increase revenue, and bring new customers to their doors by taking advantage of the value of their GBP listing.
Improving rank in the Google Local Pack
- Google Business Profile: Optimizing your GBP profile is the most important factor in ranking in the Local Pack. To have the best chance in ranking, you need to provide as much detail as possible in a complete profile with the correct category selected, hours of operation, address, phone number, and pictures. The description of your business should highlight the key attributes of the product or service you provide. This will help Google match your business to a user’s search intent. It is also critical to keep your business hours accurate and update them during holidays through Google’s verification process. Google’s verification process allows business owners to verify their location and ensure it is accurate. This will improve local pack ranking and regular organic search results.
- Directory Listings: The more accurate the citations - or mentions of name, address, and phone number - that a business has online, the more likely Google will recognize that a business as legitimate and rank them higher in search results. It is important for businesses to have a strong presence online and ensure the accuracy of their listings. Inaccurate listings will cause customers to begin doubting the credibility of a business, resulting in a negative reputation. Customers expect a business’ address and contact information to be accurate. While it can be difficult for businesses to keep track of and continually update their listings, accurate information increases the chance of ranking in the Google Local Pack. Many software solutions are available to businesses designed to sync their listings throughout hundreds of different sources. The Vendasta listings management solution lets a business control its online presence from one dashboard. You can automatically update business information as it changes through the holiday season without manually changing each source and ensures accuracy. You can also see missing or inaccurate business listings and automatically re-establish accurate information. Ensuring listings accuracy also means managing duplicate listings. Competitors and other third parties can manipulate business listings without warning. This is done through the “suggest edit” option and is reviewed by automated systems and sometimes human beings. Business owners are not always aware of these changes and keeping track of it is time consuming and difficult to manage. Listing Sync Pro gives your clients peace of mind by automatically re-establishing accurate data if anything changes.
- Reviews: Reviews give customers a perception of your business. When a customer is at a stage where they seek out a local business, there’s a high probability that they are ready to make a purchase. From a good business standpoint, a positive review can help a local business beat out its competitors. Google’s algorithm favors businesses that are regularly answering questions and replying to reviews. A review monitoring strategy is an important consideration. It is also worthwhile to note the role played by keywords and city names in reviews to improve business ranking in local search. Using reviews to improve your rank in the local pack is efficient, not costly, and doesn’t require much technical ability. Help your clients get more reviews to improve their standing in the Local Pack.
- Website: A business’s website should feature elements like backlinks and keywords to help in organic ranking which, in turn, improves local pack performance. Your website should be mobile optimized since most Google searches are through mobile devices and Google will push mobile-friendly sites to the top of its rankings. Keywords are especially important for achieving high Google ranking. Your website should have targeted keywords in titles and in the internal content navigation. The goal is to make it as clear to Google what your product or services are in order to increase ranking in that category. Many businesses embed Google Maps locations on their contact page and it is another way to prove your business is legitimate. Listing on your website should be in the same format as your GBP listing to verify accuracy in the eyes of Google. Your homepage should be optimized and clearly state your location and what your business does. The title tag, header tag, and meta description should relay your business category to Google. If you have multiple business locations, it is essential that your website has different pages for each product/service and location. Each page title tag should include the name of the city where your business is located as well as products and services.
Another strategy for getting your business seen in the local map pack is to use Google Maps Ads. A digital marketing strategy can be a great way to boost brand awareness and increase visibility while continuing to work on an organic SEO strategy. Google Maps Ads allows business to pay for a top spot in the local pack and this ad will appear to searchers in your targeted location.
Google decides which ads to show based on a searcher’s location, demographic, interests, behaviour, time of day, and search history. To get an ad in Google Maps Ads, your GBP profile needs to be updated and accurate, and your location extensions must be enabled.
The localized nature of the Google Maps Ads makes it more likely searchers will choose your business over competitors if it is nearest to them out of convenience. Just like any other digital marketing strategy, results don’t happen overnight and businesses need to be continually monitoring and optimizing keywords and locations to get the results they want.
Wrapping it up
There are many different factors in ranking in the Google Local Pack. Optimizing your GBP profile, sending out your listing to as many directories as possible, optimizing your website with important keywords, and prioritizing reviews. These are all essential in having the best chance in ranking in the map pack.
Local businesses have a difficult time managing all of these different things and look to an expert to help them handle their online presence. Trusted experts can help local businesses manage listings, reviews, and websites with Vendasta’s software solutions. This includes Listings, Reputation Management, and Website Express/Pro. Interested in helping local businesses rank #1 in the Local Pack? Click the link, below, to sign up for free and start selling our white-label solutions to your clients.