If you have a local business, maybe you remember the good ol’ pre-2015 days of the Google Map Pack? The days when getting your business to show in the Google Map 7-Pack was as easy as could be.
Those were the days!
Then in August 2015, Google updated their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) to be more mobile-friendly. This reduced screen space and dropped the 7-pack to a 3-pack, slashing map pack real estate more than in half! The map pack easy ride was over.
Well, great news, all is not lost!
At WrightIMC, we work tirelessly to get local businesses like yours to break through into the Google Map Pack. We’ve put together a list of actionable steps that you can start today to get your business ranking in the Map Pack and have your phones ringing off the hook!
1. Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business
If it hasn’t been done already, your first step is to claim your Google My Business (GMB) page. The Map Pack information pulls directly from this account, so make sure to claim yours as soon as possible. Without a claimed and fully optimized GMB, you leave it up to Google to show information for your business.
Besides, it’s free and super easy to claim. Google has also written a free reference guide on how to claim your business’s Google My Business profile.
Once the listing has been claimed, make sure that you fill out your profile as completely as possible. Pay particular attention to your name, address, and phone number (NAP), as we’ll talk about more in the following steps. You’ll want to make sure they are the same everywhere on the internet, particularly on the website and GMB.
The best source for how to do this is Google itself. They give you the best information on how to begin the optimization process. Once you have your business listing as complete as you can, head on over to number 2.
2. Get More Reviews & Manage the Ones You Get
In a survey conducted by BrightLocal last year, they discovered that 87% of all consumers read and rely on reviews for local businesses. This is a 6 point increase from the year before and a huge increase over the 67% it was back in 2010.
Reviews are even more important in 2021! Coming up with a plan to gain and manage reviews is necessary if you have any hope to break into the map pack.
Get started but asking customers that you already have for a review. Make it as easy as possible for them. Create a simple email template asking for an honest review and include links to your Google My Business page so they can leave a review. You can even include links to more review sites to more than double your efforts.
As your reviews start to stream in, managing these reviews becomes the priority. The best way to do that is to respond to every single review, both good and bad. Thank someone for their good review, apologize for the bad ones, and include a way to try and make it right. This lets future customers that are reading your reviews know that you care and are engaged with your business. This leaves a positive impression on your potential customer’s mind.
I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t know how to create an email template” or “I don’t have time to send emails all day!”
We rely on tools to help our clients accomplish this. One great one is called GatherUp. This tool can help you create email templates and get them sent on a schedule, freeing you up to focus on some of the other steps. You can try it out for free today!
3. Upload Photos Regularly
Another great way to help your business break into the Google Map Pack is to make sure to upload photos to your GMB page regularly. Make sure you upload all of the basic photos that the account requires like Logo, Cover Photo, and other photos like interior, exterior, and staff photos.
As a bonus tip, make sure that your photos are geotagged with your business’s location. There is a great online tool to verify and add EXIF metadata to your photos. Upload your photo, add the EXIF location data and download the photo. You can then upload it to your GMB profile. This gives your photos a little more location relevance.
Previously, I mentioned the importance of keeping your Name, Address, and Phone Number consistent across all online platforms. This brings us to tip number 4…
4. Local Citations (NAP Consistency)
Maintaining your NAP consistency is a very powerful Local SEO signal. It builds extra confidence in the eyes of search engines and helps them understand exactly who and where you are. There are many tools on the market to help identify NAP inconsistencies and build new citations with the proper NAP consistency.
Finding your list of current local citations doesn’t have to be difficult. We recommend using tools like Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder to get a list of your current local citations. This tool also offers a citation-building service to help build new citations while maintaining NAP consistency. You can even try it for free!
Some great places to look to get some sure-fire local citations are the local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce.
The next tip is probably the most important one yet… gaining and keeping local backlinks.
5. Local Backlinks
Backlinks are possibly the most important ranking signal that Google, and other search engines, have. But how would you go about acquiring them? It can seem daunting and difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.
Ask people that you already know!
Have a friend who owns a local business? Ask them for a link on their website!
Part of a group of like-minded businessmen? See if you can get a link back from one of their sites.
Gathering local backlinks doesn’t have to be hard; it just might take a little work and maybe a little time and money. (And NO, we do not recommend buying links in any way, shape, or form!)
Another great way to get local backlinks is by looking for local sponsorships and scholarships. (Uniforms, hats, and cleats cost money!) odds are that your local Little League has a website and is in dire need of sponsorships.
So help out your community and toss a little money to help foster values of sportsmanship in fair play in the next generation, while getting a valuable link for your business.
This doesn’t only work for Little Leagues, other sports and local leagues are valuable resources for local links. If you have the means, you can also find a charity and donate time and money. Most of these charities will have websites that will only be too eager to give your business a link.
6. Fully Optimize Website
It’s time to shift gears and throw our focus over to your business website. To improve your local relevance, make sure your website is fully optimized for local SEO. This includes updating all on-page attributes such as title tag, meta descriptions, headers, and on-page content and adding local keywords as needed.
Another fantastic tip is to make sure that your website has a local business schema properly placed on it. You can read all about local business schema here on schema.org. This will help search engines better understand the context of your site while relaying valuable information.
And our final tip!
7. Utilize Google Posts
Google Posts will show up in your knowledge panel when someone searches for your business. This is a valuable resource to improve the click-through rate of your GMB. Google Posts are a great way to advertise specials or changes to your business. Google has a great guide on how to make great business posts.
Those are 7 actionable tips to help break your local business into the Google Map Pack. But, like everything in life, it’s going to take some work, but you’re sure to be rewarded with increased rankings and business!
At WrightIMC we specialize in Local SEO for businesses ranging from criminal law to car detailing to gutter cleaning, we can truly handle it all. If you’re looking for an expert to handle your Local SEO, contact us today and find out how we can improve your business!