UPDATED 2022 VERSION
To ‘Google’ is now officially a verb worldwide, and for brands, it’s an imperative one. If your business can’t be found on Google, your customers (both existing and potential customers) can’t find you.
In a world of quick searches and a reliance on social media, a Google business ranking can be a key factor to an organisation’s survival and success and as a result, all marketing strategies should include SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
There’s a common misconception that smaller or local businesses don’t require as much focus on these efforts, but the opposite is true. Those serving particular communities or geographic areas can benefit hugely from featuring in Google’s Local Pack, and this heightens their online visibility and exposure to very targeted local traffic, as users search for related products or services.
So, what is the Google Local Pack, is it likely to be helpful for your local business, and how will it support your local SEO efforts?
What is Google’s Local Pack?
The Google Local Pack forms part of the Google Mapping offering and is a prominent section featured in the Google Local search results. The top ranking business listings in a location are displayed in a different manner to standard search results to make them stand out to local customers, listed with: the business name, map location, company description, contact information, opening hours, online reviews and any other helpful submitted information.
Local business owners are encouraged to add photos regularly too!
The three businesses which are top ranked on Google Local Pack can enjoy a pronounced listing that catches the eye with better visibility, without having to pay for a financed ad placement.
Why is it Important for Businesses to Rank in the Local Pack for Local SEO?
The statistics behind Google Local Pack are pretty compelling – with some sources such as ThinkWithGoogle finding that 50% of users who searched for a local store on Google Maps using their smartphone visited one of the results within 24-hours, and 18% of those visits lead to a purchase within that time period, too!
Search queries on Google including the phrase ‘near me’ have increased an impressive 34x since 2011, reflecting the increasing amount of searches happening on mobile devices. A case study by Moz found that 44% of users click within Local Pack search results, 29% click on the organic listings and just 8% chose to load more listings – highlighting the effectiveness and relevancy of those results at the top.
Of course, ranking above competition increases the chances of users clicking the first local business listing, but this further demonstrates the benefits of being ranked within the Google Local Pack.
It’s also been found that nearly 1 in 3 mobile searches are location-specific, Google is the top search engine used for local business searches and that 99% of consumers have used it within the last year to look up a local organisation close to them.
The Benefits of Ranking Highly in the Local Pack for Local Businesses
A Google Local Pack ranking holds many benefits for businesses, including:
A Google Local Pack listing is free: despite the fact it gives a much more prominent listing than can be achieved with a paid-for advertisement. It saves money yet produces exemplary results!
Higher Organic Traffic
Higher placement in Google Local Pack usually delivers a decent click-through rate, driving more traffic to the business’ website, resulting in more leads and sales.
More Localised Traffic
Ranking in the Google Map Pack highly targets local business listings to those in or searching within a certain location, which drives more local traffic from a geography relevant to the business and ensures that those searching appropriately are more likely to navigate through to an organisation’s physical location on the Google Map.
More Direct Contact
Even if a user doesn’t click through to a Local Pack result, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they haven’t found it useful to view.
The nature of these results are that they provide contact, current location and business hours without the need to click through further, and so indeed a user may well have found the details they need without ever having to leave the search results page. Anecdotally, businesses often say that they receive more direct contact through phone calls and emails as a result of ranking on the Google Snack Pack.
Increased Competitive Advantage
Ranking higher on Google Local Pack than local competitors provides businesses with vast competitive advantage, leading to an onward trend of more customer reviews, more visibility and more word-of-mouth marketing.
More Mobile Traffic
When browsed on a mobile device, the Google Local Pack takes up most of the visual space of the screen, making users faster to respond, more likely to click through and, as indicated by their mobile usage, more likely to visit a physical address quickly.
How to Claim and Optimise Your Google Business Profile Listing
In order to rank on Google Local Pack, an organisation must have claimed their Google Business Profile Listing (initially Google My Business) and added all relevant business information to it. This can be done by visiting business.google.com and filling out the required steps.
However, in order to ensure a high ranking in Google Local Pack, this profile should be optimised, too. This can be done by completing the following:
- Ensuring all information in the Google Business profile is complete and up-to-date
- Keeping all business social media profiles consistently branded, and linked back to the same URL (this forms the social signals the Google algorithm needs to demonstrate cross-channel relevancy)
- Including mention of specific local areas on the business’ website that correspond locally to the listed business address (this forms on-page signals for Google algorithms)
- Ensuring appropriate local bodies, businesses and/or press link to the business’ website (this forms link signals for Google to demonstrate relevancy and authenticity)
- Claiming any appropriate online listings and directories for the business (but ensure these are genuine and well-respected sites)
- Encouraging customers to write public reviews on the Google Review site, and responding to those reviews (this indicates to Google a genuine customer base who are well served).
There are truly a myriad of factors that influence SERP listings placement – across Google organically, on Local Pack and through paid-for advertising. It is no longer enough for businesses to just pay lip service to SEO and instead must prioritise it a critical marketing activity.
Does a Business Need to Hire a Full-Time SEO Expert?
While SEO can certainly take up the equivalent of a full-time role, many businesses are not in a position to hire a resource in-house. Instead, working with a specialist agency such as Woya Digital allows organisations to reap the benefits of having a dedicated SEO or local SEO professional working on their digital presence without having to pay for another FTE on the team.
At Woya, we work with local businesses and organisations of all shapes, sizes and types to rank as highly as possible in local search and Google maps, and benefit hugely from the increased exposure and conversions that Google Local Pack can bring. Get in touch today to chat about how we can support your business with local results.