The intention to find a service or product linked to a location is at the heart of 46% of all Google queries. And according to Google Trends, the number of requests in Russia with the keyword “next to me” (eg shoe repair near me) doubled from March to December 2018. What is Local SEO? Why local SEO is important?
Almost every time we search for local services on Google, we get a map with companies marked on it in the search results.
In Google search results, the map can be a separate special element that takes up the whole screen and diverts the user’s attention from other organic results. Therefore, anyone who wants to drive traffic from search to their offline business needs to understand SEO for maps.
Below we will tell you how the cards appear in the search results and how to make your company appear in them.
Let’s start by looking at Google Maps.
What are the maps in the issuance of Google?
The most popular map option in Google is called Local 3-Pack or List Maps. This is a map with local businesses and a list of the three most relevant places. This block contains the contact details of the companies: name, address, phone number, opening hours and a link to the site.
There is also a very similar element – a local teaser, which, unlike a map with a list, comes without a link to the site and a phone call button. Previously, a teaser accompanied search results for requests for culturally significant places, such as museums, concert halls, and sports complexes. Now they can be seen on product requests. On the screenshots: on the left – a teaser, on the right – a classic block with a map.
The list of three companies in both blocks changes depending on where the user is located. That is, geographical proximity is one of the main ranking factors in the block.
It is interesting that in both blocks, by clicking on the name of the company, we do not get to its website, but to a complete list of all relevant objects and information about each of them.
In addition to the teaser and the classic Local 3-pack, you can see another block with a map that appears when searching for hotels or other places to stay. You can see room rates per night, check availability, view basic room amenities, hotel ratings, and more.
The Local 3-pack block with a list of companies, links to sites, and directions is not the only type of map in Google search results, but still the most popular. It has an internal ranking system, so to see your service among the three companies listed in the block, is not enough just to add your business to the map. If your business has no clicks from the map or no comments, it may disappear from the block altogether. Learn how to stop unwanted messages
Let’s take a look at what it takes to get your business on the list cards and stay there for the long haul.
Checklist for getting into Google Local Pack
Getting into the Google SERPs involves two groups of work: preparing your business profile in Google My Business and optimizing the website for ranking in the local SERPs.
1. Set up a Google My Business page for your company
Check if your business has already been added to the GMB list. Don’t worry if you see that your company already has a page in the service – it could have been created as a result of analyzing data from other databases. Simply apply for page management and verify your ownership. If no matches with already existing companies are found, register your business. How to know if a blocked number has called you on iPhone & Android
2. Confirm company address
Fill out an application in Google My Business and receive a confirmation code that will be sent to your physical address by mail within 3-5 days (in the CIS countries you will have to wait two weeks). Enter this code in the appropriate field in your Google My Business account.
Or just use the same email in Gmail when signing up that you use in Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Thus, Google will pull data from these services and your business address will be automatically verified.
3. Optimize your business information
When the page is already started, you need to carefully fill in all the fields of information about the company. Each item can affect the search visibility of your business in the maps, so first, carefully read the instructions from Google on how to correctly fill in the data in GMB.
Here’s what you need to know about filling in the basic fields:
- Company name . Specify the current name of your business and do not try to add the name of the city where you work or any other keys to this field.
- Category. The category determines what queries Google will match your business with, so for local issuance, it is extremely important to correctly specify the information in this paragraph. Define the category as specifically as possible. The fewer categories you choose, the better. Strive for one, but be capacious.
For example, if you’re a sushi delivery business, use the “Sushi Restaurant” or “Sushi Delivery” categories instead of just “Restaurant” and “Food Delivery”. And you definitely don’t need to try to cram keywords into this paragraph to describe the services you provide.
- Contact details. Please make sure your business hours, address, and phone number listed here match the contact information on your website. If you have multiple stores or service centres, please provide the opening hours, address, and phone number for each.
- Images. Images and photographs play a big role for the user when choosing a local business. Therefore, do not forget to monitor changes in this section, because photos can be added here not only by you but also by your clients.
- Reviews. A company’s rating based on user reviews can be seen as stars below each company’s name in the map results. For many people, it is the rating that is the decision-making factor when choosing a cafe, dry cleaning, dentistry and dance school. Monitoring and responding to feedback is a must.
- Information from the company – a short description of your company, which can be cited in catalogues, Google special elements (for example, the same maps or knowledge cards), applications, etc. It is in this text that you should use the keys and talk about the services and benefits of your business to the point.
Such quotes are a source of backlinks and one of the factors of local issuance. There are two important things to keep in mind here:
1) do not seek to publish quotes in spammy aggregators. Refer to reputable business directories and directories;
2) Check that your information is up-to-date in all your sources (the same contact details and opening hours must be indicated on your website, GMB page and directories).
You can keep track of which directories already have a description of your company, and which ones are worth registering. For example, in SE Ranking, this can be done using the Business Directories and Directories tool. You will find it in the Marketing Plan section for each of your projects. This feature offers a list of authoritative directories for the region you’re promoting in.
Posts, messages, questions and answers. In addition to basic information, you can post to your account, and add a messaging feature and the ability to ask questions to your GMB account, all of which are powerful feedback tools. You can use this functionality by clicking on the company name in the map block. We will be transferred to a general list of local services upon request, where an information card is attached to each company in the list. There are also questions and answers, for example:
The activity of these sections can affect the ranking of your site in the local SERP and the number of impressions on the list map. Use Semrush to track SEO in multiple cities
4. Prepare your site for the local SEO race
Google lists three main factors for local ranking: relevance, distance, and prominence. Relevance is about matching the search query. That is, in order to have high positions in local search, the site and description of the company in Google My Business must be optimized for relevant queries.
Distance as a factor indicates that local search results depend on the user’s location. In the issue, he will see those companies that are nearby.
And finally, the business must be known at least locally and have a good reputation online and offline. Here, user reviews and customer interaction with your GMB profile (asked questions, added photos, etc.) will play a big role.
Among the main points of local SEO optimization of the site are the following:
- Content optimization isn’t just about adding location markers to the content on your site. And yet, in order to associate your resource with a specific location, it must necessarily include the name of the city, region, state, and, in some cases, the district.
- Technical optimization includes scanning capability, speed, adaptability, security, etc. Technical errors, especially if they go unnoticed for a long time, can significantly affect the position of the site. Therefore, it is very important to conduct a regular audit, checking the main SEO parameters of the site, in order to find and correct any errors immediately.
- Domain authority is built with quality incoming links to your site. To advance in local search, it is very important to have links and citations on regional resources. These can be local business directories, city forums, news outlets, websites of other local companies, local media, etc.
The idea is that Google at all levels sees the binding of your business to a certain territory. In addition, by placing links on “local” sites, you automatically target your own territorial audience.
Website optimization requires constant attention and participation. The same applies to the preparation of your profile on the Google My Business page – you will not only have to make sure that the information remains relevant, but also monitor the adequacy of the added pictures, answer comments and questions, etc.
5. Check your Google Maps business regularly
Once your business is showing up in the map results, you need to regularly monitor the information in the block. The difficulty is that not only you, but any user can change the data about your company. While changes are made as suggestions, they may be accepted without your knowledge. Name, category, contact information, photos and even location – absolutely anyone can change everything. And these changes can significantly affect your position in the local SERP.
For example, only recently Google fixed a serious bug: any user could change the opening date of a business to the future. Because of this, the positions suffered seriously – Google considered the business to be non-existent and did not display it in the search results.
The very ability to set an opening date in the future was intended for new companies that want to announce their opening. And now everything has been fixed: it is no longer possible to choose a day that has not yet arrived as the date for opening an existing company. What Is Numerology & How Does It Work?
If you see that someone has changed your data, try fixing everything manually using this guide or contact GMB support immediately. Alternatively, try tagging @GoogleMyBiz on Twitter. As a rule, answers through this channel come within 15 minutes.
Just like regular Google search results, you can place ads on maps.
Google Maps Advertising
If you want fast results and the competition in your area and niche is too high, start your PPC campaign in maps.
According to Peter J. Myers, a researcher at Moz, about 35 per cent of map results contain ads. It looks like this:
The advantage of these ads is that they target users from a specific location, which increases the potential conversion of those who click on them.
Basic steps to launch a PPC campaign in Maps:
- You need to have both accounts: Google Ads and Google My Business.
- In extensions, when formatting an ad, you need to select “Address”:
- After that, you need to update and double-check your data in Google My Business
- Next, when you create your Google Ads campaign, you need to set up targeting and location bidding.
- Finally, don’t forget to use location marker keywords in your campaign.
To see how your ads look for other regions, use the Google Location Changer. Google does not allow you to select a different city to view the issue. With Location Changer you can check the SERP with all its elements for any other location.
How to track map hits for keywords
If you still managed to break into the Local Pack, you won’t be able to relax. The situation in the issue can change quickly: new competitors have appeared, advertising has been added, etc. Drops in rankings can be sudden and can seriously impact your search traffic. To be ready for this and react in time, you need to regularly monitor your positions and the issuance of cards for the keys that are important to you.
Today, some position tracking tools allow you to monitor different SERP elements. We will show how this works using SE Ranking as an example.
In the keyword positions table, you will see a column with Google special elements for each of the tracked queries.
The data can be filtered by the special element you need. In our case, this is “Map Results”. This way we will see all your requests for which there is a map with a list in the search results.
If there are targeted ones among the requests with the map, you need to think about how to break into the block – analyze the weaknesses of your SEO strategy. In addition, with regular monitoring of maps for targeted queries, you will see how this or that change on the site affected your positions or presence in the Local Pack.
SE Ranking allows you to check the availability of cards in both organic and paid issuance. Thus, you can simultaneously track for all your queries whether there is a block with a map in the results for them and whether your site is included in this block. The same goes for advertisements.
If you have a local business, you simply cannot ignore Google Maps as a potential traffic channel. Your efforts to rank in the Google Local Pack will also help you rank higher in regular local SERPs.
Plus, registering with GMB opens up additional features, such as expanding information in snippets and publishing ads on maps.
It is very important to constantly monitor your profiles in Google business directories and keep track of your positions for queries with a local context. If your site has sufficient SEO preparation at the same time (there are no technical problems, the content is optimized, there is a mobile version and a solid link profile), then the geo-targeted search and the presence of maps in the issue will only benefit you.