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Why Google Business Profiles Are Only a Small Part of Local SEO

Why Google Business Profiles Are Only a Small Part of Local SEO

For local businesses, a Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly Google My Business, is a foundational must-have to raise awareness and send a signal to consumers and potential customers that your company exists at a local level. But, while GBPs are important for local businesses, they’re not enough—and they’re only a small part of an effective local search engine optimization (SEO) program. Here’s what you need to know.

Google Business Profiles vs. SEO

Creating a business profile doesn’t ensure that anyone will actually see your profile. Google may show your profile listing to showcase your local business when people do searches that their algorithms determine have local intent. Or they may not.

Google business profile listings also may be shown in the “map pack” at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) for certain types of queries that Google determines have local business intent. 


google map pack exampleGoogle Map Pack Example


While these may appear when someone searches, they are not the only organic search results. Google generally has only three businesses to place in these spots.  

Proximity and Your Chance of Being Seen

Your potential to be included in the “map pack” is heavily impacted by how close your business is located to the searcher and what they believe was the query intent. Google decides which results to show. Searches using geographic modifiers, though, will rely less on proximity. For instance: “massage therapists in Oakdale, MN” a suburb of Minneapolis, would pull in therapists from Oakdale even if the person searching was based in New York City.

SEO does impact Google local listings and plays a role in whether they will be displayed. However, the aspects of the Google algorithm that are used to display these listings are different from those that will display true organic search results. 

GBPs also significantly impact your potential for local organic visibility, so creating one and keeping it up to date is essential. They’re just not enough, though from a true SEO standpoint to ensure visibility, market share, and competitive advantage

Beyond Your GBP: Must-Do Steps to Take

Beyond your GBP, to optimize for local search for each location or local representative of your brand, you will need to do some additional work to boost your odds of being seen in organic search. 

Optimize for the right keywords.

It’s crucial to optimize your content for the keywords your intended audience uses and the keywords that will most effectively help you compete against other local businesses offering what you offer. This is especially true when those single-shop local businesses that can devote an entire website to local content.

Multi-location businesses need to prove that they are relevant to the local market by providing clear signals of their presence or service to that market. A generic, one-size-fits all approach will not workand will not win.

Ensure unique content.

Unique content is critical to attracting Google’s attention. This goes beyond your business address. As Google tells us

“Pure affiliate sites consisting of content that appears in many other places on the web are highly unlikely to perform well in Google search results and may be negatively perceived by search engines. Unique, relevant content provides value to users and distinguishes your site from other affiliates, making it more likely to rank well in Google search results.” 

Leverage the use of pillar pages.

A pillar page, also referred to as a content pillar or power page, is a page developed for each subject that people would need to know about your business. Other pages—such as blog posts or other web page resources on your site—are then connected (aka interlinked) to relevant pillar pages with internal links.

Interlinking content is a tactic that helps you build authority for the pillar page because you’re basically telling Google that you are an expert on that topic. In addition, by creating related content regularly, you’re providing frequent value to consumers in the local area where they are. This is what other local businesses are doing. If you aren't doing the same, you can't compete against them well.

Review website and keyword performance and update content regularly.

Keyword performance lets you know how you rank on certain topics important to your business. You can use this information to guide your content calendar as you plan for future content.  

For instance, if you need better performance in a particular geographical area, you should queue up more content to be developed in that area. As you publish more, ensure to intralink to the pillar page it is most relevant to. This will make your pillar page rise in search rankings. This will result in higher visibility and more clicks, leads and, ultimately, sales.  

If you have a GBP, great. You should. But don’t fall into the common misperception that your GBP is all you need to do to optimize for local SEO. It’s not! 

How To Start on Local SEO

If this seems like a lot of work, it is! Traditionally, multi-location brands hoping to optimize for local search would either:

  • Not do it, and get poor results.
  • Hire an army of content writers to help them create content, which is expensive and time-consuming to manage.
  • Let local reps take care of it, which generally results in either nothing being done, or something being done—but poorly, leading to brand inconsistencies, compliance issues, bad or inaccurate information, outdated content, and, ultimately, a poor customer experience.

That’s why we created MarketSnare—to provide multi-location businesses with a cost-effective and easy option to implement critical SEO best practices at the local level. And now we share our best tips with you in our new guide How Mature is Your SEO Program Across Local Markets? Find out what multi-location brands need to know about local SEO, how to assess their rankings, and where opportunity lies to beat competition.

seo program local search

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