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In the world of online marketing, there’s one thing that small and medium businesses want more than anything else – to appear at the top of a Google search. Ranking first on Google earns you around 30 per cent of all search traffic, while the first page of a Google search can soak up as much as 90 per cent of all clicks.

These numbers alone are impressive, but they don’t tell the full story. With an increasing emphasis on mobile web browsing and rapidly advancing geo-location technology, Google is showing us that there is more than one way to get to the top.

Instead of asking ‘Can you get me to the top of Google?’, small businesses should be asking ‘Can you get me to the top of Google when it counts?’.

This is where Google’s Local Pack comes in.

Local SEO and the Google 3-Pack

Google’s local pack is the number one example of why your online presence needs to be optimised for local SEO. The local pack is a group of 3 listings that appear at the top of a Google search when you’re looking for anything from butchers and bakers, to candlestick makers.

For example, when you search for a local bakery, the first thing Google will display is three relevant businesses based on your estimated location, with an option to view more.

As a local business, you want to be one of the first three listings for searches in your service area, and at the very least, you want your business to show up when searchers ask for more suggestions.

4 Ways to Get to the Front of the Pack

Google is tweaking its algorithms all the time and the local pack is no exception. To take full advantage of the local pack, you need a strong and consistent local SEO strategy. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of being a top 3 listing for local searches.

1. Keep on Top of Your Google My Business Listing

If you haven’t already, create a Google My Business Listing. This is fast and easy to do and is a prerequisite for appearing in the local pack. Simply enter your business name and details including your address, phone number and information about whether you deliver. You can also choose a few relevant categories but opt for quality over quantity in this case.

It’s also important to keep your Google business listing up to date and consistent with other listings on the internet (we’ll get to those in a minute). Make sure your current business name, address and phone number is listed on your Google My Business profile and consider checking this information regularly. To change your Google business listing, simply sign in to your profile and make the changes.

2. Increase Your Presence through Local Listings and Citations

When your business information is listed on another website, this is called a citation. These listings will generally include information such as the name, address and phone number of your business, as well as a business description, keywords and categories, and sometimes a website URL.

You can increase your listings by registering your information on local directories, social media sites such as Facebook, and other search engines including Bing Places for Business.

The most important thing is that your business information is consistent across every listing and that you only create relevant citations for your business and local area. The right listings will increase your business’s credibility in Google’s eyes and make you more likely to feature in the local pack.

Tip: Need help finding local directories? Search for your business niche and location on Google (e.g. “plumbers Amsterdam”) or simply look up a competitor online. The results will show you where to list your business and it might fill some gaps in your local SEO strategy.

3. Turn Happy Customers into Positive Reviews

Positive reviews and ratings are a gateway to your business. They lead traffic to your website and feed important local information about your business to Google. The key to earning positive reviews and glowing star ratings involves a combination of a strong web presence and good old fashioned customer service.

Start by setting up your business on review websites like Google+ and Yelp. To find other websites, search for reviews of other businesses and competitors in your industry.

Once you’re set up online, take your efforts offline and ask happy customers to leave positive reviews. If a customer gives you a compliment, ask them to make an official review. You can also put up signs or messaging on site to encourage customers to leave a review, like your page or even upload photos of your products or services (where applicable).

Remember, Google’s business ratings are front and centre on every listing and there’s an option to search for businesses by rating. So if you have happy customers, you need to make sure that Google knows it!

4. Optimise Your Website for Local Search Results

Local SEO starts on your own website. Consider following a few of these tips to optimise your website for local searches:

  • Create a local blog – Add a blog section to your website and write about news and topics that are relevant to your industry and your location. Remember, content promotion is just as important as content creation. Share your articles on social media and guest blogs, or work with an expert to develop a robust content promotion strategy.
  • Create dedicated location pages – If you have multiple offices, create a page on your website for each location. This isn’t just a matter of writing a different business address and phone number on each page. These location pages need to provide unique value and should be rich with local information. Include photos of your shopfront and information about local sponsorships, and highlight the services that matter most to customers in that area.
  • Make your website mobile friendly – Google is prioritising mobile browsing and so should you. Make your phone number clickable by adding a “tell://” hyperlink, switch to a responsive design and investigate ways to speed up your website’s load time.
  • Optimise page titles and descriptions – Page titles and descriptions are like the headline for your website. Every page has a title and description – make sure yours clearly reflect what the page is about, including descriptive service and location keywords. Page titles can be around 55 characters while descriptions average 155 characters. Try using a SERP preview tool to see how your titles and descriptions will look in search results.

Get Ahead with Local SEO

To improve your local SEO and take advantage of Google’s local pack, ask the team at Spotzer about our digital marketing solutions. Contact us to talk to an expert today.