Published: March 7, 2023
*A previous version of this blog originally appeared on inseev.com. It has been altered and updated by 3Q/DEPT.*
If your business has a physical address, ranking #1 on Google Map Packs can be incredibly powerful in increasing your visibility on search engine rankings and building your audience in local communities. It helps local consumers easily find you and patronize your product or service offerings, draws more people to your website, and can increase your customer base. With the abundance of smart devices, it’s never been easier for consumers to search for local products, services, and businesses on the go.
Using the right strategies, you can position your business ahead of everyone on the Map Pack, enabling you to reach your local consumers more effectively. Let’s look at five local SEO strategies that will help you rank #1 on the Map Pack.
1. Optimize Your Website
To build any type of physical structure, you need to start with a strong foundation. This is the same for your website. With a few basic optimizations, your website can be up and running with the best of them.
Make It Fast
In 2010, Google announced that page speed would impact a website’s ranking. Page speed measures how fast content loads on your web page and describes the time a visitor has to wait until your page loads completely. Google recommends that you aim for 2-3 seconds.
Slow page speed can adversely impact user experience and conversion rates. If the pages on your website have a longer load time, the chances of users sticking around to browse your site and make a purchase drops significantly. As such, it is essential that you optimize and increase your site speed.
To assess how fast or slow your site is, we recommend using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
PageSpeed Insights will give you a green, yellow, or red result indicating a Good, Medium, or Bad score, respectively. Google will also provide suggestions on how to fix any issues they see. A couple of the most common site speed issues we see stem from image file sizes and no use of browser caching.
This optimization is as simple as downloading one of these helpful WordPress image compression plugins.
Leverage Browser Caching
You can also leverage browser cache plugins for WordPress. Caching stores website data so that the next time a user visits your site, the user’s browser pulls that data from memory instead of loading everything for the first time. This enables the page to load faster.
Embed Google Maps
You can also optimize your website by embedding Google Maps. Doing so will signal to Google that you are associated with the area you’ve outlined on the map. Putting a map in the footer and contact page is ideal if you only have one location. If you have more than one location, using this method is a bit more complicated and requires a level of explanation we won’t be going into in this article.
2. NAP Consistency
One of the major factors that determine your local ranks in Google’s search and Maps is the quality and quantity of your citations on the internet. A citation is a reference to your business on another website and often lists your NAP.
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. A citation is a mention of your NAP on a web page, typically a directory like Yelp or Yellow Pages. To ensure NAP consistency, you should ensure that you have local citations on the top 50 local business listings.
Use Whitespark to run a search on your business to see where it is listed across the Internet. Then edit ALL the listings so that they contain the same information. However, depending on the scale and reach of your business, this can be a time-consuming and very tedious task.
You can either hire a freelancer to manually build/update your citation submissions or sign up for a managed citation service like Whitespark or BrightLocal.
3. Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
An important step in improving your organic rankings (in places like Google Maps, Local Finder, Google’s Local Pack, and others) is claiming and verifying your business’s GMB profile.
You should claim this free listing and provide key information about your company like business hours, phone numbers, address, and accepted forms of payment. Ensure that the name on your GMB profile is consistent with your business’s real-world name as used on your website, storefront/office, stationery, among others. This makes it easier for customers to find you online.
GMB’s New Features
Google has also added some great features to GMB that you can leverage to grab the attention of prospective customers, optimize your GMB profile and increase your ranking in local search results. These features include:
Google My Business Posts
These posts are just like social media posts or “mini-ads” that show up in a Google search of your GMB’s listing. You can include a call-to-action, a link to another page/website, and images on your posts. Ensure that the images you post are properly sized so that they don’t get cut off. GMB posts are readily shown on mobile searches, so ensure that yours stands out from the competition.
According to Google, “Attributes tell customers more about your business (e.g. “Has Wi-Fi,” “Offers outdoor seating,” etc.).” A few notable new attributes include Veteran-Led, Women-Led, and Family-Led. Not every business qualifies for these right now, but it’s worth checking to see what’s available to you.
Make it easier for potential customers to contact you by utilizing the messaging feature. Users on a desktop will engage in a web chat with you while mobile users may engage in an SMS conversation. Make sure you understand Google’s guidelines before jumping into using the messaging feature.
4. Set up a Reputation Management Process
One of the best ways to enhance your business’ online presence is via online reputation management. By keeping track and responding to what people say online about your business, you can boost your local search engine optimization rankings and build trust with your customers.
Reputation management in this context is about generating and responding to reviews on Google and other directories. Google makes it easy to get a link that will bring users right to leaving a review for you.
Once you’ve got some reviews you can even add a review plugin to your website. This enables you to show visitors your reviews/testimonials on your website’s pages. Depending on the size and reach of your business, online reputation management can be challenging. To automate the process, you might consider signing up for reputation management software such as Podium, Broadly, Grade.us, or others.
5. Local Link Building
Link-building is a great strategy for businesses looking to position themselves as industry leaders in territorial niches. Although catering to a micro market may not be as lucrative as a full market, creating local links is one of the best ways to grow if you’re just starting out.
By using local link-building, you can leverage your community to create backlinks to your website. This means working with other local organizations, website owners, and businesses.
Let’s take a look at some strategies you can implement to consistently get backlinks through local link building:
- You can create guest posts about events or happenings that are locally relevant to your community and include links to the websites of the businesses/organizations involved.
- Contact the organizations to link and share your post across their social networks.
- You can sponsor a local event, scholarships or other community development projects. Make sure that all the websites that mention your event link back to your website.
You should also enter your business for relevant local awards in your community. Contact the organizers and ask for details on how to participate. Some organizers will advertise your business on their website even if you’re just a nominee.
That wraps up our five local SEO strategies to boost your business’s online visibility and help Google serve more relevant and personalized location-based results to your local consumers. The world of SEO is constantly evolving, and it’s essential that you stay updated. By implementing these strategies, you can position your business as #1 on Google’s local three-pack results and optimize your brand presence to consistently grow your customer base.