What used to be called Google My Business is now called Google Business Profiles (GBP). The semantics don’t really matter, but the functionality does. For business owners—and especially business owners representing brands with multiple locations—understanding how to harness the power of GBP to improve Google search rankings can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
GBP, Map Pack, and Organic Listings, Oh My!
From a local business standpoint there are three primary elements of search that are important to understand: GBP, the “map pack,” and organic listings. Each has a role to play in helping businesses rank high in Google search results.
- GBP is your business profile and you have the opportunity to claim and keep your profile up-to-date which, as we’ll see, is very important.
- The map pack generally shows up as three listings and a map—a very valuable place to be from a local search perspective.
- Organic listings are the top 10 blue links that show up when someone does a search. These tend to be based more on information keywords than location-specific intent, but still play a role in boosting your overall authority and ranking.
The content on your GBP is important. You must have a foundational level of content that is high quality, locally relevant, and current. That’s a major signal to Google to indicate what you have to offer.
Your ability to strategically use your GBP will help boost the odds that you will show up in the map pack and as high as possible within the top 10 organic search results.
The Map Pack
The map pack doesn’t always appear when someone does a search. It is only triggered with certain types of searches—specifically based on intent and geography. If Google’s algorithms determine that you have a transactional query relevant to your local geography it will trigger the map pack—usually showing you three local businesses that might meet your search intent needs.
For instance, if you do a search for “HVAC dealers near me,” or “best massage therapy services” Google will surmise that your search intent will be focused on:
- Is this relevant to me?
- Is the distance appropriate?
- What is the prominence of this business in the area (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness)?
The map pack uses your GBP, which you create and manage, to display results. The map pack is triggered when Google determines that you’re likely interested in a local business. That may be surmised by the type of business you’re looking for (for instance, you’re likely interested in local results if searching for a restaurant). But, it definitely becomes a trigger if the searcher is using some kind of geo modifier (e.g., city name or local area, “near me”).
About 30-40% of local searches will include a geo-modifier. Rather than just focusing on general terms, it’s important to also focus on geo-modifier-related terms. Local Falcon is a tool that can help you see how you rank locally.
What It Takes to Show Up in The Map Pack
Clear clues about what you do. Google will be considering both the category you’ve selected in GBP and the content and keywords on your website, if you have one. If you don’t, Google will look at other clues like your reviews and how people talk about your products and services. A standalone website, of course, will help you stand out by building your depth and breadth of content, helping you stand out for more terms. Citations and backlinks that show that you are who you say you are and that you have credibility.
Clear clues about your proximity. With local search intent, consumers are going to be most interested in businesses nearest to where they are. From a local perspective, this means having good content augmented with terms that prove local relevance—mentioning street names or area landmarks, sharing information about “our recent services in XYZ county,” etc., are all ways you can help Google understand that you are part of the community you serve.
It’s important to think about how you can most effectively speak to people who are in your local market. What clues can you provide to help them—and, especially, Google—recognize that you are a local provider?
Reviews. If you’re a reputable company with a lot of reviews, that is a signal that will help you show up in the map pack and will also serve as a proof point for your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness which will drive your ranking in organic search. That means not only having reviews, but also responding to those reviews. Are you engaged with your customers? When a question is asked on your GBP are you responding to it or does it sit there with no response?
Up-to-date business information. Making sure that your business hours are up-to-date and that they’re relevant to local search needs. For instance, will you be open on specific holidays? Will your hours be different? This also means that you should have someone monitoring your GBP for comments from people who may be coming in to suggest edits. If you’re not on top of this, Google will be. If enough people suggest a change (like your hours have changed, or your business is closed, for example), and you haven’t gone in to say “yea or nay,” Google will go ahead and improve it thinking they’re acting on your best interests.
Photos and images. Having good quality images and photos that are, again, sending signals of “we’re local” can help boost the odds that you will show up in the map pack.
If you can improve Google’s understanding of where you are and where you serve and their understanding of your relevance, expertise, and trustworthiness in that area that will help your rankings.
The bottom line for the best results—making yourself look better than everybody else. The more information you have, the more complete your profile, the more responsive you are on your profile, and the more information you have on your local website (which can also improve your GBP), the better your odds of showing up in local search—and in the map pack.
That’s how you can most effectively harness your GBP to rank high in Google search results. For multi-location brands, of course, you need to find ways to handle this at scale. MarketSnare can help.
MarketSnare’s local marketing automation platform empowers marketers to efficiently scale local marketing programs across many locations through unique centralized tools and services designed for multi-location businesses. Take control of local websites, listings, reviews, social media, lead nurturing, and digital ads to create marketing programs that deliver unrivaled results in each local market.