Man, Local SEO has changed so much these past few years. It’s become its own discipline, hardly resembling traditional organic SEO. With that being said, it has become invaluable for local services companies, storefronts, and businesses that make in-person contact with customers. At 828, we focus on lead generation for small businesses, building 24/7 sales engines that get the phone to ring and the inboxes filled up with high quality leads; and Local SEO has become a major part of our efforts. In fact, we often approach local businesses with just 3 core disciplines: SEO, Local SEO, and Sales Funnels. There are plenty of other things that can contribute, but we’re focused on being great at a few things vs good at everything. Our industry goes too deep these days anyway. I know experts who make a living programming chat bots on Facebook!
The way people discover, evaluate, and engage with local businesses has forever changed. A few years ago with the growth of mobile and Google’s announcement about prioritizing the mobile experience, Local SEO changed significantly. It was late 2015 when the Google 7-Pack of map listings was cut down to three, creating the current 3-Pack, or ‘Google Local Pack’. Suddenly we had a group of just 3 local business listings appearing in response to search queries for products or services. No longer would someone in Virginia who had typed in “Tire Shops” get a website from California because it was the most optimized. Google had finally realized that people weren’t looking for the best Tire Shops in the country, but Tire Shops near them. That was good. What wasn’t so good was services business and storefronts who wanted to reach potential customers beyond the city where their business is located. This created the challenge of ranking businesses outside the cities where they had a physical presence.
Today, 97% of people search online for local businesses. Nearly 50% of all searches have local intent, and roughly 50% of those end up in an actual visit. Since the Google 3-Pack shows up at the top of 93% of those searches, this battle to get into the 3-Pack has become the major hurdle in Local SEO. That battle starts with your Google My Business account and listing, which is 100% FREE, yet controls a large percentage of all local ranking signals. If you don’t have an optimized Google My Business listing you are missing out on TONS of potential leads and revenue. It’s probably 80% of all Local SEO at this point and absolutely the single most important thing for your Local SEO.
So how do you optimize your listing? First you have to understand how you are evaluated in the first place. Google uses three main factors to determine those local 3-pack results:
Essentially, the sales process of Local SEO is coming up with a plan to attack each of these factors individually. You need to convince Google that you serve people outside the area where your business resides. You need to optimize your website and Google my Business listing around the products and services you offer and explain how you help people solve problems with them. You need to show that people come to you for each of the services you offer, and that they trust and appreciate your work. You must establish credibility and push your branding so that you have a strong presence in and around your area. Here are some specific things you can do:
While focusing on Google my Business covers 80% of what you need to show up in the Local 3-Pack and generate local leads and calls, the other 20% is still pretty important and could make the difference between you and your competition. To round out your overall Local SEO strategy, you want to:
Local SEO isn’t rocket science, but it does take consistent effort. Businesses that don’t take the time to optimize for Local SEO are missing out on TONS of potential leads and revenue. I would go so far as to say it may be the single most important thing for storefronts, restaurants, and home services businesses. Even in small areas we have restaurants who get more than 150,000 views and 750 calls from mobile devices to their map listings each month. We regularly have local storefronts who get hundreds of calls and leads from website forms every month like clockwork. Ever since the pandemic competition has increased with everyone fighting over the same leads. Executing these Local SEO strategies are absolutely guaranteed to produce results. Everyone is different, so they won’t all look the same, but you can definitely expect to start generating quality leads and calls 24/7 through your website and Google My Business listing. Who wouldn’t want that?