Many are in the illusion that a local business SEO success depends entirely on the Google 3-pack strategy. Well, that’s not entirely true! 3 pack is important, however, it takes a little more than the pack to get good local SEO ratings.
Local SEO definitely opens doors to multiple opportunities for business growth. However, there are few more campaigning strategies that one can look at to drive organic traffic.
Following are the essentials we are going to cover under this topic to get more understanding on the same.
- What are the changes that occurred in local search in past one year?
- What are the elements that need change this year?
- What will contribute to better ranking and high local search traffic?
It is not anymore relevant in achieving local SEO success simply based on 3 pack and generic strategies. Since everyone is interested in free traffic on Google, the rate of competition is elevated. Which means, your chances of getting organic traffic gets tougher.
While it is a struggle to secure a spot on the 1st page, there is the devil called “sponsor ads”. Good luck competing against those top 4 paid positions!
Local results with paid ads on SERPs are very common these days. Check out the following screen-shot which states the result page with 4 paid ads on top.
On the desktop, clicking on 3 pack results and it will lead you to the local finder.
As you can notice in the below screen shot, first 2 will be paid ads. And, what’s more? Those are the only ads with the star rating. Notice how the other businesses below are not rated? It makes a difference, don’t it?
Don’t panic! All these changes implies a new opportunity. You can, with smart approach and strategy will be able to work it all in your favor.
Your priority should still be Local pack. Being listed in the local finder is still a good bargain, for free. If you have reviews on your pages, it’s an added advantage.
Google provides the option for consumers to filter by rating. If in case you hold highest ratings, you defeat your competition, by getting more clicks. Below shows how it looks like on Google search.
Local strategy with added strategy
On a daily basis, we come across businesses who has the determination to be ranked in local pack and set it as a priority. We are not saying it’s wrong to have something targeted aggressively and making it the main goal. But we have evidently noticed businesses booming with a local pack that is surrounded by multiple other strategies.
Separate the thoughts for a moment; what’s on priority? Is it the consumers or the local packs? If what you do is targeted towards high click rate, you need to do a little more to get there.
Start by studying the SERPs:
- Verify the websites with common keywords and topics
Surely, consumers click around other websites apart from local search results. They don’t just click on top 2 or your page in particular, not necessarily. You need to pursue in terms such as, whether are not you are visible on their pages, and how can you increase the chances of your visibility.
STAT is a great tool for this. It can help you track visibility percentage, page rankings, and other tracking details accordingly. You need to voice search the keywords related to your domain and the tool will fetch the results of your competitors or market.
- How many customers are voice searching?
Below graph states the consumers’ voice searching from their devices, in different positions. All smartphones come with voice search option, which is obviously used by consumers because it is handy and snappy.
Hence, this proves, local queries might not be all about 3 pack. A user may ask the mobile “Which one is the nearest restaurant,” the same question can be asked by others in different ways:
What is the highest rated restaurant nearby?
Show me the closest restaurant near me?
What we are trying to say is, don’t neglect voice search while you are at localized organic search. Pay attention to the type of localized searches your consumers would be taking interest in. Think of the kind of queries they would ask.
- Optimized your website for “near me” search type!
Since past few years, Google has been noticing hype in Near Me searches. It is only likely that the search ratio is going up. It is a simple logic; users are just interested in a restaurant or a service nearby. Here are how the trends have changed over past 5 years:
Recently, there is a study conducted on ‘near me’, by Local SEO Guide. According to them, optimizing for “near me” search will be the highly important strategy in local SEO planning. It further states that this will help increase Google ranking.
- How about paid ads?
Let’s begin by quoting the stats. Google, as it is known, makes its revenue from running paid ads. Adweek released an article which states that Alphabet’s revenue reached 21.5 billion by mid of 2016. A major figure of 19.1 billion is generated via ad business.
To put it straight, paid ads are going to stay and they are Google’s priority. According to Mike Blumenthal home service ad test, Google is focusing on finding different ways to legalize local search.
If you are not aware of the fact, paid and organic listings clubbed together enhances your overall page click rate.
By performing all these together, you will have a high rate of results. That is, if your potential consumers are already looking for the services.
- Featured snippets can’t be ignored!
Take a look at the size chart of snowboards example below. If you notice, there is a web page link in the answer box. Whoever is searching for that information is more likely interested in purchasing the product.
Enhance your local visibility by using featured snippets, while you can also generate content to rank.
By now, we believe you got a grip on the methods based on which you can amplify your strategies. Let’s move on to some other steps you can use to your benefit.
Obtain additional visibility!
Here are few things that help improve overall visibility in local campaigns. Simultaneously, also helps with high local ranking.
Let’s say that you have optimized your listing by providing all the profile details.
In 2016, there was a study performed by Placescout and Local SEO Guide, where they looked at more than 100 variables from 30,000 businesses. The study is conducted in order to determine the factors that might have the total impact in local 3 pack rankings. According to their verification, the greatest overall effect is directly implied by the efforts put into the signals.
Here we state few such factors that we think affect the positive results.
A great website!
Ask yourself the question; do you need the page rank or conversion? What is a page rank if the sales don’t happen? Just keep in mind, if the pages are not loading anywhere between 2 to 3 seconds, your website is not only facing a decreased crawl budget, also faces a drop the conversion rate.
We highly recommend speed optimization, as it directly relates to your consumer’s very first experience with your website. Lack of a good website also results in the rank drop.
SEO friendly website that loads fast!
Check how fast your web pages’ load. You can use few tools like Google Page Speed Insights or GTMetrix. You may also want to know that Google decreases the visibility of the websites that take time loading.
Always crawl for errors, this will help you fix your pages. Your aim should be to maintain a smooth functioning website which loads fast. Use Google’s Search Console to keep tabs on your website performance. You can also scan through your clients’ projects to check for errors or issues from time to time. The equation is “high score and fewer errors”.
You need a firm strategy of strong review creation
It is relieving to learn that review threshold on Google is currently one. If you are not updated with the information, Google is now adding review score for all businesses based on the number of reviews. Mentioning below an example:
However, it’s sad that Google right now is not taking any specific measures to decrease review spam. We haven’t noticed anyone being penalized for manipulative businesses as of now.
There is more that comes with the reviews which help better results. As its stated before, users can filter or sort by review stars. More reviews imply increase in total CTR. Besides, we have spoken to a varied range of local businesses which resulted in the conclusion that these scores affect consumer search.
How to get more reviews?
You can start by approaching customers from the past. If you haven’t started collecting feedback/reviews on your website, start as soon as possible.
If your client list is limited, it is easy for you to take a manual approach. Filter out the happy customers and send them a review request. This will help you gather certain information. Here is how you can do it:
- List creation: Begin with checking for the consumers that you certainly know for sure to give you positive reviews. You can do the second level of sorting basis Gmail account.
- Outreach by phone: Or, you can just give them a call. Sorting remains the same, instead of emailing directly, make a little more effort, pick up the phone and talk to them directly to make it more personalized and strong. Have a pitch ready, explain everything and close with “we are sending you a follow-up email, please respond!”
- Send a follow-up email: You can easily use Google review generator which creates review box. Once the person logs into Gmail account, the URL leads to review session.
- Follow up email: Make sure as many clients as possible leave the reviews by following up.
- You have a new review!
As mentioned, this method works out well for a small volume business. If your contact list is vast, we recommend using an automated tool. Infusionsoft integrat and Get Five Star are some tool you can use which will make things more constructive and a lot easier.
If your credibility among the consumers is well established, you will notice a quick response.
Link building is important! More important is how you do it!
It is a good thing that Google is able to successfully destroy malfunctioning or manipulative links. However, following their link building guidelines is highly recommended.
One thing is for sure, you need good link building for your pages and overall website. This will help you stand out in your circle or competition. You can geographically win the race and claim a high rank. Remember, anchor text is vital. This will lead a user to click on the hyperlink, which means it’s not only about building links on right websites, it’s also about how interesting you represent your data.
The table below explains the link tactics that work best:
|Strategy Type||Link Tactic|
|Local SEO (3-Pack)||Consider local Google My Business connected landing for link building. This will help with 3 pack rankings. Anchor text with city, state and other relevant keywords adds advantage|
|Featured Snippets||It will help enhance the authority of the pages by building links to the ones where you want featured snippet.|
|Paid Ads||There is no point building links for paid ads|
|“Near Me” Searches||Make sure the anchor text in the links carry information on specific locality, city, state which is the lead message in near me searches.|
|Voice Search||Building links to FAQ pages and pages that consist of long tail keyword content will lead to better ranking.|
|Barnacle SEO||Generating links to high authority profiles or business listings will help ranking too.|
As you can notice, there are several ways to build links. We suggest avoiding spam tactics or paying for links as Google dings websites for this kind of malpractices. Understand that there are no shortcuts, the best way to conquer is by rooting for strong and sustainable strategies.
Acquire highly authoritative citations
Though citations have been a bit complicated lately, they still carry on quite a bit of weight. Understanding the norms around citation will help avoid unpleasant situations and boost ranking.
Here is the thing, the websites with strong visibility gets more traffic. If a potential customer is trying to find your services and if you are not available there, you lost that customer. Quality takes over quantity; if you have hundreds of citations and most of them are spam, what’s the use? If you still have such citations, you must get rid of them and soon. Target the relevant directories and your city.
It is important for you to note that even some high authority citations can be unstructured. They might not be a defined business directories to put it otherwise. It could be that these are high-quality links and have very few business listings.
Think big: Consider awards that your business is eligible for or is nominated for?
Authoritative citation, as well as links, can be built in a great way using this angle. Check out the below stated, this is a simple example. It is nothing compared to a giant like Yelp and may not carry much authority. But evenly distributed link equity is its highlighting factor.
Last but not least, stick to the point
It has surely become a bit complicated to compete with increasing competition. But it is vital to stick to the point. Keep constant tabs on market trends and updates, think out of the box, look for more sustainable strategies and pay attention to methods that can get you more visibility and conversion.