Sometimes getting to the first page of important Google search results isn’t enough.
In many cases, it’s even more valuable to get listed in the local map pack listings. Not only are those listings typically higher on the page than traditional organic listings, they are visually more compelling and have additional information like your phone number, reviews, address, hours, links to your website and directions.
In most cases, local business/map results appear for users searching for businesses near their location. Google map results may appear for a variety of keyword searches, particularly those that include “near me”. So how can you get more practice exposure in this section of all-important Google search results? We will try to address this opportunity by answering some frequently asked questions about Google map listing.
“What is the difference between optimizing for map listings and traditional organic results?”
Strategies to get listed in Google’s local map pack are very different than trying to get high listing in the traditional organic results. The main difference between Google map pack results and traditional organic listings is map listings are driven primarily by your Google My Business (GMB) profile, where traditional organic results are influenced by your practice website. Although your website has some indirect impact on your map listings, optimizing starts with your GMB profile.
“How can I optimize our practice’s Google My Business profile?”
First, you need to verify your location by claiming your GMB profile. Once claimed, you need to ensure your profile has complete, accurate and consistent data, including business name, address, phone number, category and attributes. Uploading photos to your listings can add visuals to describe your most important, high-priority goods and services, as well as project your brand. Try to upload images that can also tell your practice’s story, who you are, what you do and who you can help. Engaging, relevant pictures communicate visually to potential customers what your practice offers, the services and results they are seeking. Videos are another asset that can provide users and Google with more helpful and detailed information. One suggestion is to include a Google Virtual Tour as part of your GMB profile. This adds another layer of trust that you are a real business with a physical location, and provides Google users with even more details about your practice and location. You can then add the virtual tour to your website and other online profiles. Another area to optimize on your GMB profile is updating your working business hours, including seasonal changes, holidays, events, etc.
“Do reviews impact my GMB listings?”
Reviews can influence your GMB rankings in a couple of ways: 1) Having customers post reviews on your practice’s GMB profile sends Google local validation signals, particularly when the vast majority of your reviewers are “local” to your practice. Having more and positive reviews and ratings will positively impact your local business listing. 2) It is also important to manage and respond to your clients’ reviews. In addition to helping with your listings, responding to reviews, particularly those from happy customers, is an important part of stimulating referrals from your most vocal supporters. Only several months ago, Google announced it will notify reviewers (email notification) when business owners respond to their review and link to it. I recommend practices utilize a review marketing and management platform not only to help stimulate reviews on target review websites, but to be notified when customers post a review and streamline your practice’s ability to respond in a timely manner.
“Is being closest to searcher’s location the only criteria to show up in the map pack?”
The location of your practice and vicinity to a searcher’s location is a major part of Google’s algorithm to deliver accurate results. However, map listing results are not determined exclusively by location alone. According to Google, “Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that's farther away from your location is more likely to have what you're looking for than a business that's closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.”
“How does your prominence or ‘Brand’ affect your GMB rankings?”
The reference to “prominence” focuses on the branding of your practice, and how recognizable or well-known your business is in your local market. Some practices that conduct media marketing/advertising are typically identifiable beyond the online world, and Google tries to reflect this in local ranking. That is why famous or popular landmarks, businesses, or well-known brands are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results. In addition to offline media advertising, prominence is also based on the amount and accuracy of information that Google has about your practice throughout internet. This includes articles that mention and link to you, and your practice’s listing on other industry-related or local business directories and websites.
“Is there a way to manage and update my local business listings on a variety of business directory websites automatically?”
There are a variety of subscription-based services and software, including:
• Whitespark Local Citation Finder
• Moz Local
• Yext PowerListings
• N.A.P. Hunter!
These are just a handful of available local citation tools. They can certainly help simplify much of your local business directory listings. However, due to constant changes on the internet, business directories, and your practice, these services or software should not be seen as a complete solution that delivers perfect results. Highly effective local citation management will require hands-on maintenance to ensure more thorough and accurate listings and results.
If you have other questions regarding your practice’s Google Local optimization, call us at 303-368-9910.