Local SEO – The way forward for many small local companies
Why Local SEO is becoming so important?
The fact of the matter is that things are changing because of one thing, the growth of the use of Mobile Devices, especially Smartphones to access the Internet. The figures are quite startling when you look at them, from 41% in 2016 to over 61% in 2017.
When you then consider that most smartphone searches are related to immediate / local needs you can see why appearing on that Google Search screen has become more important, YOU NEED TO BE THERE to get that all important click (and the business that comes with it).
You also have to consider that when you search on a Smartphone you automatically get local results (Google after all knows where you are) instead of having to ‘manually signal’ i.e. use a geographic term along with the search phrase (i.e ‘Security companies Hereford’ rather than just ‘security companies’. The latter, when used on a Smartphone automatically giving you local results for Hereford (as long as of course you are in Hereford at the time of the search).
So What Makes Google Choose One Site Over Another?
The first thing to remember is that Google uses different signals to decide who to list in the Local SEO (the map section at the top of listings that is often shown) than the standard Organic Listings.
The Six Local Pack Ranking Factors
- Proximity of the address used in your Google My Business (GMB) listing
- The quality of the GMB listing, photographs, details of services etc
- The linking structure for the website mentioned in the GMB listing
- The On Page SEO of the website mentioned in the GMB listing
- The number of Citations for the website mentioned in the GMB listing
- The number of Reviews the GMB has recevied
Local SEO and Organic SEO have similarities
As you can see, it is IMPORTANT to ensure that your website is properly optimised, as many of the factors used in Local SEO are also used in the normal Organic listings. It is of course possible to get a listing in the so called 3 pack without having a website, but you are far more likely to get a position if you have a high quality optimised site linked too from your GMB listing.
How to get a Place in the 3 Pack?
Obviously the first thing you need is a Google My Business listing. You may well find that one does exist already, in which case you need to ‘claim it’ a process that can sometimes be carried out by phone, whilst in other cases Google will send you an email or a postcard.
If you don’t have a listing to claim the you must first log onto your Google account and then vistit https://www.google.com/intl/en/business/, following the process laid out there.
Whichever process is used, you will eventually end up with a GMB listing that you can edit.
Are you listed already and if not who is?
You may also want to check to see if you are, for some reason already listed in the 3 pack, or maybe you want to find out who is. The best way of doing this is to use the Google Adwords tool, this can be found at https://adwords.google.com/apt/anon/AdPreview.
Editing your Google My Business Listing
The first thing to do is to remember to keep to the rules, these being available at https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en-GB.
Another set of interesting information can be found at https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en.
What to include in your GMB listing
- At least 5 photographs are needed, it also being important to ‘GeoTag’ them (this telling Google they are relevant to a certain location). This is an easy enough process, see https://www.geoimgr.com/ for more information.
- Provide as much information as you can about the services you offer and your times of operation / opening.
Getting Citations and Reviews
As mentioned above, having a correctly optimised website is a key requirement to getting a 3 Pack listing, but that is a separate matter (and you can find a lot about ‘search engine optimisation’ elsewhere in this blog, so please do have a look about), this post will just cover the important area of Citations and Reviews.
Of the two, Citations are the most important, it being very possible to get a 3 pack listing with no reviews at all.
If you already have a GMB listing that is not listed in the 3 Pack AND have a fully optimised site, then this is more than likely being caused by having too few Citations, or by the fact that the ones you have are ‘confusing’ Google. This is often caused by the fact that the Citations are using different variations of your business name, address of phone number. Sometimes this is just human error, in other cases it is because your business has moved address or changed the phone number.
Whatever the reasons, having citations that all use different Names, Addresses or Phone numbers (the three together being known by the acronym NAP) can be a real killer to your chances of getting a place, so the first thing to do is to check on what citations you do have and ‘clean them up’.
If you don’t have any then fine, you can start building them up, but ALWAYS ensure that you use EXACTLY the same information on ALL of the citations you create.
Don’t forget Press Releases
Online Press Releases are also a way of helping things along, so please also consider posting these as many times as you can.
Local SEO also helps in getting business if you are not in the 3 Pack.
In some cases, you simply won’t be able to get a 3 Pack listing in the town / city you want, this for the very good reason that your office (as in the GMB listing) is not close enough to the centre of the city / town for Google to consider you as being ‘local enough for a 3 Pack placement.
One way around this is to create a ‘virtual’ office in the town that you wish to target, and whilst this, if done properly can work, it is fraught with dangers (i.e. getting your business thrown off ALL 3 Pack listings). It is therefore better to make sure that your website is fully optimised for ‘Local Searches’ as that way, although you cannot get a 3 pack listing, you can get an Organic listing.
As some if the results in Google don’t have a 3 Pack to get listed in in the first place, this is really a great way to go. See below for our customers No.1 listing, one of many too.
I do hope that this has provided you with some useful information and please do contact us if you want more information or help with your Local SEO / 3 Pack problems. We are here to help!