How To Have Your Business Turn Up In a Local Search
When it comes to search results, all search is local. The more connected you are to your community, the better your chances are to rank higher in local search results. While there are a variety of steps to increase your local search marketing, the most basic, but critically important, is to ensure that Google knows where your business is. If your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) isn’t consistent throughout your presence on the internet, there is a chance that you may not appear in your localized search results.
What is the Local Search Result?
Privacy issues aside, Google (yes, there are other search engines, but they pale to the market share Google has) knows where you are located. According to Google, 46 percent of searches have a local intent, this means when a person searches for “pizza restaurants”, Google assumes that the searcher means, ‘near me’ and will provide the searcher with a list of local pizzerias. This listing is known as the Local 3 Pack.
What is the Local 3 Pack?
The Local 3 Pack is the block of three business listings that appear below the map in the result page after a localized search.
User intent is a critical component of how and why Google decides on which businesses to place in the Local 3 Pack. Google tends to focus on immediate purchase intent, which is why if you search for ‘Pizza parlor’, Google assumes you want to purchase a pizza (locally) now and the Local 3 Pack is triggered. However, searching for a purchase or service that is not recognized as an immediate need or a generic term such as ‘cloud computing’, may result in your search not delivering a Local 3 Pack result.
A good example (and keep in mind, this changes based on your location) would be looking up terms like “tech support” and “it services.” This, for the most part, pulls in a Local 3 Pack. Searching for “cybersecurity” doesn’t.
In order to trigger the Local 3 Pack for Directive, we had to make our intention to make a purchase more definitive by making the search criteria more specific: managed service providers near me. If we had just used the term, “managed service provider”, the results would have been blogs or a featured snippet describing what a managed service provider does.
Make no mistake, there is nothing wrong with your blog or a featured snippet being a page one result on Google. However, when trying to increase your presence locally, you want your business to be the result of a local search because that is where the majority of your customers are going to be coming from and the Local 3 Pack is where you should strive to be.
Where Does the Information in the Local 3 Pack Come From?
Google pulls the information which goes into the Local 3 Pack about your business from your Google My Business (GMB) account, not your website. Google My Business is a service to put your business profile and information where Google can easily access it and provide it to searchers. This is why it is critical that information on your GMB account be as accurate as possible. In fact, one of the first things you need to do as a business to increase your chance to be listed on the Local 3 Pack is to claim your Google My Business page (and Bing Places too). The most important information your GMB account must have is your business’ name, address, and phone number, also known as NAP.
Google My Business and NAP
Google My Business is an essential part of your local SEO for your company, and this information is used to populate a variety of other local search tools: Local 3 Pack, Google Maps and the Knowledge Panel.
Moreover, your GMB profile can include a host of information about your business. Information such as services you offer, contact details, business description, opening times, even posts about events and promotions you're having. You can even link to specific blogs, add photos and any content which can better help define your business. Finally, GMB allows you to add social proof to your results, such as Q&As, and reviews about your services.
While Google My Business is one of the most influential places your NAP can appear, it is not the only place. In fact, the more places your business appears, the stronger your business’ authority becomes. Another term for NAP is citation, a citation is any place your business’ NAP or NAP(W) (name, address, phone number, and website URL) appears online. Typically, the NAP(W) of your business will appear in an online business listing or directory, such as the Yellow Pages online, or Yelp. Additional places for your NAP(W) to appear would be your social media accounts, such as Facebook.
Now’s the time to take a moment to check your NAP(W) using the free listing checker of your choice.
The takeaway when it comes to NAP(W) is that wherever your business appears online, whether a business listing, your website, your social media, or your Chamber of Commerce website, they should all have the same name, address, phone number, and website URL. Consistency is key to local search success.
How To Rank Well For Local Searches
As with all things SEO, local search success requires a two-tier process. The first is technical SEO; the basics of SEO. In addition to ensuring your NAP(W) is consistent, some of these basics include:
- Meta Content and On-Page SEO
- Keyword Optimization
- Understanding Your Metrics
The second SEO tier should focus on content and give local visitors a reason to believe that as a member of the community, you know their needs and are the best local business to address them. Steps you should take to increase your local presence include:
Encouraging testimonials and reviews from local clients: As we noted earlier, social proof is critical to giving potential customers the confidence to take a chance on you. Social proofs can come from local businesses and residents, particularly those who are recognized in your community. Testimonials are a valuable tool not only for beefing up your local bonafides, but also for marketing your business.
Get involved with local community events: During these trying times, your expertise can be used to support your fellow local businesses as they adapt to the new normal. The goodwill of these acts can reward your business in a variety of ways, such as with backlinks and case studies.
Highlight your expertise with locally-focused case studies: Testimonials and reviews are important because they provide social proof that prior customers are satisfied with your work. The next step after a testimonial is the creation of a case study. Case studies let potential customers know that you are able to perform the tasks they need, based on your prior successes. Case studies can also serve as a deliverable, a means to sweeten the deal when asking for potential clients’ contact information.
Produce content that is relevant to your local audience: Finally, your content needs to include information your local audience will recognize as being important to the location. If you see a shortcoming or unsatisfied need in the community, a quick blog will let your entire community know that you are there and can help.
All Search is Local
While focusing on increasing your ranking should be the primary goal of your SEO, when developing an SEO plan, your business should always consider how to better increase your local presence. Your local SEO should supplement the overall marketing strategies designed for your business. Your marketing plan needs to ensure you have all the pieces in place to enable your business to come up as the result not just on page one, but also on a local search; because all search is local.
If you are unsure about how best to develop your SEO and marketing strategies, check out our other marketing blogs!