Is your local business falling short with its efforts to rank for those coveted local pack and map results on Google? After the paid search ads, local packs are often the first thing potential customers see when they search for a product or service in a specified area. And this naturally means that not being visible on a local search result is a serious missed opportunity for your business. If you’re still unsure about what Google’s local pack results are, we’ve included a screenshot below for the search term “furnace repair” to make you understand better.

Google’s search algorithm understands that the intent of my search query is to find a local business in my area. The local pack was developed in order to show the most relevant results for a particular user’s search, and there are essentially three main components that factor into these rankings: proximity, prominence, and relevance. Now, if you’ve not made any efforts to make sure that you show up in the local pack or as a GMB listing, worry not. Here are 5 quick steps so you can audit your Google My Business (Google My Business Audit For Local Success) listing, compare yourself to top competitors, and make the necessary changes to attain those valuable local rankings.

1. NAP ( Name, Address, Phone Number )

It’s highly important that your business name, address, and phone number are as consistent as possible across the web so your business looks trustworthy. This includes your GMB listing and any other local citations for your business. Some businesses try to manipulate the algorithm by adding target keywords into their business name but I recommend you keep everything above board and use your actual business name to avoid any penalties. It is widely believed that proximity is the #1 local ranking factor, so making sure your business has the right address (not sure whether it does? You can check it out here) is critical to showing up for searches in your area. You’ll notice that the businesses that showed up in the search are all within a few kms/miles from where the search was made. Lastly, having a local phone number on your listing that matches the number on your website is also a good practice.

2. Categories

Choosing the right business category can make or break your business when it comes to local results and relevant traffic, so make sure you get this right. A good place to start is by inspecting your top ranked competition and noting the categories that are used by them. In our example, 2 of the 3 furnace companies are using the category “furnace repair service”, which is very closely related to our search. According to Google’s guidelines, you should, “Add categories which describe what your business is, now what it does”. Your primary category should be the best reflection of what your business is while secondary categories can be used to cover your main services.

3. Reviews

If you’ve spent any time in the marketing world then you know how powerful social proof is when it comes to selling things. Having a lot of great reviews is not only a prominent ranking factor to help boost your position but it will also help increase your click-through-rates so steal you more traffic from your competitors once you get there. You may tempted to get friends and family to give you glowing reviews but this article from local seo expert Joy Hawkins lays out some good reasons you should say no to fake reviews.

4. URL Structure

If you own a single local business, then you most likely just want to use your home page as the URL in your GMB listing. If you have multiple locations then it’s going to be a best practice to use the landing page you have built for that particular location. You should note that after the Google Pigeon update, the local results are more closely affected by the typical organic ranking signals. You’ll want to ensure that you have a proper website structure with link equity flowing from your home page to your location pages. If you’re unsure about it you can always take the help of a local seo checklist for assistance.

5. Complete Your Profile

This might seem obvious but so many local business listings are left incomplete which can have negative impact on your success. Don’t overlook the details like adding great photos to your listing, including business hours, or even taking advantage of some new tools like Google posts to showcase your content and promotions.

With these 5 tips you’ll be well on your way to climbing up the local rankings so you can grow more traffic and leads from shoppers in your area. Let us know how this article helped you in the comments below!

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