If you run a business that operates within a local area, then local SEO can be a great way to get yourself on the map, literally. Certain Google searches will return a map with links to local businesses. This is known as the local pack and it looks like this.
The local pack above appears at top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) when searching for “Accountants Witney”, followed by a number of organic search results. Different searches will trigger different search features (e.g. ads, videos, shopping results) which may change where the local pack is displayed.
The benefits of being in the local pack
The main benefit of being in the local pack is the visibility it gives your business. However, there are many ways you can customise your listing to include the following:
Local pack positioning means you can reach relevant, local customers when they’re searching for your products and services. Searchers have the opportunity to reach out to you without even visiting your website, which can increase conversion rates drastically. It’s also a big plus if your website has poor usability, which might put people off contacting you.
You can show off your business by encouraging customers to leave reviews. The only caveat to this is that people may leave negative reviews and these are hard to delete. However, it is possible to respond to them and show your side of the story. Being able to respond to reviews also lets you respond to positive reviews and show your clients some love.
Opening hours let customers know when you’re at work or when they can visit your business. You can even set your opening hours for special holidays, or online operating hours.
Local address information allows Google Maps to provide directions to your business. This is especially helpful if your business has a physical shop front e.g. a restaurant or supermarket.
How to get into the local pack
The local pack can contain up to three different listings. If there’s a lot of competition businesses may be listed under “more places”, as illustrated in the image above. To maximise your chances of getting into the local pack you should do the following:
Set up a Google My Business account
Google My Business is Google’s answer to Yell, or the Yellow Pages, which helps Google to understand your business and show it for relevant searches. Bright Local reports that 75% of businesses’ GMB listing views are on Search, so it’s very important to set up your Google My Business profile.
Optimise your website
You can help search engines understand further attributes about your business by using schema.org markup. You should use the Local Business schema markup for Local SEO. This can can help Google, and other search engines understand the location of your business.
Business directories are a great way to spread your name across the web and gain citations. Most directories use nofollow links so they won’t help you build links, but they will help Google to understand where your business is located. You should also ensure that your NAP (Name Address Postcode) is consistent across these directories, and your website, to help search engines verify your location. If you want to find out more then read my posts on the best UK directories and what you need to think about before adding your site to a directory.
Links from other websites that are local to your business can help you get into the local pack. Just because a business is local to you doesn’t mean that a link will be valuable to your SEO. In some cases links from disreputable, low quality sources can actually have a negative impact on your SEO.
Why isn’t my business showing in the local pack?
There’s no guarantee that the steps above will get your business into the local pack. If you’re concerned that your website still isn’t appearing then consider there may be other factors at play:
Just because your website isn’t in the local pack doesn’t mean you’re not listed. Your website could be hiding away under “more places”.
If Google believes that your listing doesn’t match a particular search query then your business won’t appear. Try adding more schema.org markup or changing your Google My Business category to more closely match the query.
Distance from the searcher or location
Distance of searchers from businesses is a local ranking factor, so unless you plan on moving your business elsewhere, you’re not going to be able to change this one, sorry!
Prominence of the place listed
Some places are prominent offline and online, such as the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Google understands this by using a number of signals to determine prominence such as;
- Links from other websites
- Reviews on Google and other local directories
- Organic SEO ranking