Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How to optimize your site for Google’s local pack

3 September 2019 Eugénie Delhaye

Some years ago, the easiest way to buy a screwdriver was to look in a directory, locate a tool store, go there to make your purchase and be directed by the retailer if they were out of stock or did not sell the model you were looking for.

Since the advent of Google Maps and Google Local in 2004, and then local search results in 2007, everyone has a micro directory at home or in their pocket through their computer or smartphone. In addition, local search can provide a much greater amount of information than you will find when consulting a traditional directory.

However, this implies that smaller stores need to rank, otherwise they risk losing a large proportion of their customers to their competitors, particularly retailers that provide a local service.

As mobile search has become a priority online with nearly 60% of total searches, most consumers perform a local search before deciding to go to a store to make a purchase. For example, 88% of smartphone users conduct local searches. In addition, 47% of users in Canada systematically conduct a local search before making a purchase.

Google Local Pack Online Search

Percentage of people who perform an online search before a purchase in Canada

The importance of local searches is therefore growing tenfold with an ever-increasing number of local searches carried out by users. A good ranking on local search has now become essential to attract consumers to your business and win customers.

What is the Google local pack?

While 75% of consumers use a company’s website in their purchasing decisions, 87% pay attention to local search. In addition, a study conducted by Sparktoro shows that 62% of users performing a local search no longer even click on the web results of the results pages and are satisfied with only the results provided by the local search.

Most users therefore stop at the information given in the Google local pack, also called the Google 3 pack. This pack is a space located at the top of the search results for a local search that presents the 3 most relevant businesses according to the keywords entered by the user. The local pack also includes Google Maps of the geographical area searched, indicating the location of the 3 establishments highlighted, as well as access to an expanded map with other addresses.

Google Local Pack

Google local pack example when searching for “Montreal dentist”

The increasingly precise fine-tuning of Google’s local search algorithm allows it to take into account more specific and targeted factors in order to offer the most accurate result to users. There are many factors: type of business, location of the user performing the search, optimization of the local profile, number of reviews, number of links and citations from the web, etc.

What is the advantage of ranking in the local pack?

Ranking in the local pack provides great online visibility. It is also a critical part of your SEO if you want to make yourself known and drive traffic to your business.

Ranking in the local pack can therefore give you an edge over your competitors, since this pack is only reserved for the first 3 most relevant results. Placing you at the top of the search results, a Google local pack ranking is prime real estate for local businesses that want to significantly boost their sales and customers.

After all, most users who are looking for a tool store in Montreal will not necessarily click on the page links but will stop at the results given by the Google local pack to choose the store they want to make their purchases from.

However, ranking in the local pack requires you to optimize a number of factors that are independent of your website’s SEO and that take into account a number of aspects. This ranking especially depends on optimizing your Google My Business listing.

Optimize your profile for local search

Optimizing your profile for local search involves taking into account a number of considerations. First, you need to create a Google My Business listing so you can benefit from local SEO.

Google My Business optimizations

The Google My Business listing is a free tool that allows you to manage the online presence of your local establishment with all Google products, including Google Maps, that allow you to appear in the local pack.

Google My Business Local Pack

My Little Big Web Google My Business listing

The Google My Business listing is a very important factor in your SEO and has to be optimized according to several factors in order to get the best possible ranking.

First, you can enter the key information about your business on Google My Business: the name of your business, opening hours, address, telephone number, a description of your establishment, etc.

Next, more specific information can be added, such as the establishment code, the labels you are affiliated with, or the call extensions to help your customers reach your business.

You can also add a number of photos that will appear on your listing as well as on Google Images, which will allow you to display the front of your business, some of your products, or any other image that may interest your customers in your services.

Keep in mind that your business can be ranked even though you have not created a Google My Business listing. You can then “claim” your listing in order to be able to manage your brand online.

Reclaim Google My Business Local Pack

How to reclaim your Google My Business listing

The importance of online reviews

Another essential component of your local SEO strategy is the existence of reviews on your Google My Business listing. Several studies show that these reviews have a significant influence on consumers’ purchasing decisions.                                             

In addition, Google strongly favours businesses with positive reviews (the average being around 4.5 out of 5 stars). Therefore, it is very important to first encourage your satisfied customers to leave reviews after they visit your establishment. In addition, you should respond constructively to any negative reviews left by your dissatisfied customers, in an effort to listen and respond to their concerns. In the best case, the customer will withdraw their feedback after the problem has been resolved. If this is not the case, other customers will see that you are listening and responding to your dissatisfied customers, which is a positive factor for your online reputation.

Reviews are one of the essential elements for optimizing your SEO, so don’t hesitate to ask for the honest help of your relatives if you don’t have any reviews on your page yet, and to remind your customers via a newsletter and incentives on your site to increase your number of positive reviews.

Google Local Pack Customer Reviews

The impact of reviews on your online reputation.

Having a significant number of reviews with a good average can improve your online reputation and give Google’s algorithms a good reason to include you in its local pack for the keywords you are ranked on.

Use tools to measure performance

Finally, if you want to measure the effectiveness of your local SEO, you may want to use some tools to evaluate your performance.

There are many tools to evaluate your SEO performance, such as SEMRush or the Google Search Console. The Google My Business interface also provides you with a lot of information about your online reputation. Analyzing this data and modifying your Google My Business page or local SEO strategy can give you a good idea of how you should promote your establishment to appear in the Google local pack.

The Google local pack therefore offers considerable visibility for all local businesses and can help you attract many customers to your establishment. However, it is important to ensure that you fill in your Google My Business listing as completely as possible, as well as take into account all aspects of your online reputation, with a particular focus on reviews. Analyzing your performance by comparing it with your competitors’ profiles can help you improve your profile and rank in the local pack, giving you a huge boost in terms of visibility and traffic.

If you need help defining a local SEO strategy and getting into the first Google search results, My Little Big Web SEO experts are here to help you!

Eugénie Delhaye
Cofondatrice et Spécialiste Marketing Internet et Référencement Naturel (SEO) Ma maîtrise des techniques de référencement, combinée à une analyse minutieuse des tendances du marché, me permet de créer des stratégies SEO sur mesure, efficaces et durables.
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