Showing up at the top of a Google search result is a dream come true for most businesses. When you're a small business, getting that top spot in a local Google search is a huge boost to your business. But how do you get yourself to show up there?
What Is Google Maps 3-Pack?When you search for a type of business on Google, like "veterinarians near me," three local businesses will pop up beneath a map at the top of your page. The map indicates the locations of these three top results. Before any other results are visible, you have to scroll past this top three.
Getting into this "3-Pack" for a Google search and having your location displayed via Google Maps where everyone can see it can provide a huge boost for local sales. Achieving one of these coveted spots isn't easy, but with the right SEO strategy you can work your way into a top 3-Pack spot.
Fill Out Your Google My Business PageEach result in the pack has a Google My Business page. The information displayed, like the address, phone number, and hours, come from that business’s Google page. This is similar to your Google+ page, in that you add all your relevant information so it can be publicly displayed. You can talk about what your business does, encourage user reviews, and link to your website. The more information you give Google, the more Google has to work with when deciding how to rank you.
Build Links to Your SiteAn important aspect in SEO is link building. You want external authority sites to link back to your business's website, whether that's your contact page, your landing page, or one of your blog posts. Search engines use the number of links that go to a website as part of their ranking process. One way to engage in link building is to add yourself to local directories. You want your name, address, and phone number to be consistent across the internet. Make sure your business only has one phone number and one version of your name listed on your website before you go to local directories.
Next, go to reputable local directories (like Whitepages and the Better Business Bureau) to either claim your listing or add your business. Each directory has its own process for listing a business, so this will take some time. The more you add yourself to, the more links you have leading back to your website. You also have a lot of sources with consistent business information for your company.
Use Social MediaAnother way to get links to your website is through social media. Once you generate quality content, start building up followers on a few key social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. As you share your content, offer incentives for shares and reposts. When someone links to your content from their blog, for example, you can offer coupons or other discounts.
Right now, Google is not clear on whether it uses social media likes and reposts to factor into its search engine results. However, a social media profile can rank in a search engine on its own. How often have you Googled a business and found its social media page a few links down? Plus, social media acts as its own kind of search engine where people can look for trending news and pages they like. The bottom line: anything that helps boost your business's local presence will help your local SEO strategy.
Get More ReviewsYou probably think of reviews as a major way to get individuals to come check out your business. Your reviews are also boosting your search engine results. Reviews are almost 10 percent of what causes you to rank (or not rank) in search engine results.
Reviews need to come from a variety of sources and websites. Before you think of adding a bunch of reviews yourself, keep in mind that too many reviews happening in a short period actually hurts your SEO because search engines detect something fishy going on.
How do you attract reviewers? Prompt them. When someone buys something from your website, send them an email a few days after they receive the item and ask how they like it, and if they'd be willing to write a review. Offer incentives to post reviews to Yelp and other review sites. If you're a beauty salon, for example, offer 15 percent off someone's next cut and color with proof of a Yelp review. Also, when you receive negative reviews, resist the urge to fire back insults; this could make people shy away from interacting with your business or offering their own reviews.
Edit Your Page's TagsTags on your web page also impact your SEO. You want to rank in the 3-Pack for your city, not for somewhere else, which is why you should focus your page tags on location. The title tags on your posts and pages should have location mentions in them. So should your URLs.
Optimize Your Site for MobileBecause so many people use their smartphones for searching these days, your website needs to work flawlessly when viewed from a smartphone. Search engines pay attention to how well your website works on a mobile platform. One of the easiest ways to develop a mobile site is to make sure your current site has a responsive theme. Responsive sites rearrange themselves to fit whatever screen someone is using. If you don't have the money to hire someone to adapt your site, a responsive theme is your best bet. Otherwise, you can use Google's page full of information on how to craft a better mobile site.
Unfortunately, no single action will boost you into the 3-Pack if you aren't there already. You'll have to try several of these options and develop them over time to improve your search engine rankings. Set smaller goals for yourself first, like grabbing a certain number of reviews or making it into the first page of search results for certain local search terms.