To anyone outside the world of SEO, 3-pack, NAP citation, and GMB profiling must sound mystifying. However, for an SEO agency like Dreamscape Marketing, these are three key concepts experts look at to local search engine results.
Ranking in the 3-Pack
Let’s talk about local SEO. It’s a conversation that needs to happen because businesses depend on it (more than they may realize).
Defining Local SEO
Local SEO is how you optimize your addiction treatment center for location-based keywords. Such localized keywords might include something like “drug rehab South Florida” if that’s where your facility was located. Another aspect of this equation is your Google My Business profile.
Is Local SEO Important?
How important is local SEO? Let the percentages tell you…
According to Search Engine Roundtable, 46% of all Google searches have what’s called “local intent.” Google also tells us that “near me” searches have grown an astounding 150% faster than more traditional, locally-based searches.
As a premier provider of digital marketing agency services, Dreamscape Marketing can tell you that local searches form an essential aspect of SEO. Let’s dive into aspects you need to better understand.
What is a 3-Pack and Why is It Important?
In the gym, you might work on a 6-pack. In the world of off-page SEO strategy, it’s a 3-pack you’re after (also known as a map pack). What is it? A set of three local business results, accompanied by a Google map showing locations.
For example, if you search for “plumber worcester massachusetts”, Google will have a Map Pack at the top of the results.
Below that will be the regular search results.
Interestingly, this 3-pack functions under its own unique Google algorithm, and under a separate set of rules (according to Google).
That’s not to say that backlinks aren’t going to help you in local searches. They will. However, stuff like NAPs (name, address, phone number) really the only factor in the map pack.
Remember, of course, that a search doesn’t have to involve a specific city or state keyword to yield local results. It all depends on whether Google decides a local search result is appropriate.
Let’s say you Google “florist” Google will give you this:
Obviously, the power of targeting localized keywords during keyword research can’t be ignored. Therefore, optimizing for “business type + city” makes a lot of sense.
Tracking How Map Packs Rank
As you begin a local SEO campaign, you need to know where you stand before getting started.
In other words, how do you rank according to the Map Pack? Just about any rank tracker handles Map Pack tracking.
Here’s the thing, though. Map Pack results are going to vary considerably, depending on where you’re standing when you do a search on your smartphone.
Let’s say you’re in lower Manhattan and you search for “restaurant.” Obviously, a lot of search results are going to pop up below the 3-pack. However, walk a few blocks north and make the same inquiry and what happens? You’ll see the order change or entirely different results for the 3-Pack and the listings below it. Obviously, your physical location greatly affects the search. But don’t imagine for a minute that other SEO factors aren’t at play also.
Local Rankings Should be Organic
Obviously, the 3-pack aspect of the Map Pack is something you want to be focused on. However, by no means does that mean setting aside the more traditional ways to rank in local results.
Admittedly, your local organic results don’t quite have the same visibility of the 3-pack because they live below it.
It’s a mistake to devote 100% of your SEO efforts to that 3-pack so attractively placed at the top.
The great thing about Google search engine page results is that local results are strongly affected by the traditional on-page SEO strategy that everyone knows so well: keyword in the title tag, appropriate keyword density in the document, etc.
“Near Me” is the New Black
Don’t start thinking that “business + city” is all there is when it comes to local searches. “Business + near me” is a big deal, and you probably need to focus more attention on it.
Let’s say you wanted to track the rankings for “drug rehab near me.” Go to your preferred rank tracking tool and designate a location:
You can drill down even further by looking at rankings for this keyword phrase in different cities or parts of town:
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) Citations
As we consider aspects of local SEO, it’s now time to consider NAP citations.
Think of NAP citations like you would backlinks—only harder to build.
A NAP Audit Is Vital
Your NAP data has to be consistent in every place it appears. That includes your website, your Google My Business profile and on any and all business directories. If there’s a discrepancy, you have a problem.
Before you make use of citation tools and services, there are two things you need to deal with:
- Making sure the NAP for your business is up to date
- All past NAP information, so that you can correct anything outdated or tweak anything that isn’t an exact match with the rest of the NAP citations
Then, use your tool of choice to go through the web looking for your NAP citations.
Tweak Any Incorrect NAPs If They’re Out There
With this information in hand, you can now make sure that every NAP citation is consistent.
Warning: if you’ve never done an audit like this before, there could be a boatload of citations that will require fixing. Just so you know.
Generally, NAPs with errors are either:
- Ones that you can easily correct yourself
- Ones that someone else has to change for you because you don’t have access
Obviously, the ones you can handle are easier to accomplish. If someone else has to do it, you’ll need to contact the appropriate individual directly and nicely ask this person to correct the citation. Reaching out directly to the administrator of that directory is one way to do it.
Local Citations Matter
Sure, you want citations at places like Yelp, etc. However, local citations are very relevant to Map Pack rankings.
Under most circumstances, local outreach should yield the highest conversion rate for a business.
One way to find local citations would be to use a link resource tool like Ahrefs, specifically the Link Intersect feature. Although it’s primarily a tool for link building, you can get citations as well.
The object isn’t so much nofollow links. You want your NAP citation on this page. If a link happens, that’s just the cherry on top of the sundae.
Google My Business (GMB Profiling)
Not every business understands why the Google My Business profile is so important. The ones that don’t are the same ones having difficulty increasing their web traffic.
With GMB, consistency is everything. That means info in your GMB better exactly match what’s on your website and on NAPs located across the internet. And those companies who aren’t ranking well? There’s a good chance their GMB lacks consistency. Google decides how legit you are by whether these exact matches can be found across the internet.
If a business moves, change its name or its phone numbers, GMB needs to be updated immediately if not sooner. Take no chances here—even with something seemingly insignificant. For example, don’t use the abbreviation for street in one place and not another.
Having “St” rather than “Street” won’t screw up a post office delivery. However, it will be a problem for Google.
Don’t Leave Out Any Data On GMB
Your GMB is like a test as far as Google is concerned. Fill it out as completely as possible and Google likes you better.
It’s a simple enough exercise, yet some companies never bother to complete as much of their profile as they can.
A good example is the Category selection. Google makes you select a primary category to describe your business.
Notice “Add another category” in there? That’s what some companies never do. Secondary categories are a great place to make keywords work to your advantage.
Before you’re done, it’s also a good idea to fill out the “Services” or “Products” tabs, as applicable.
The information you share with Google helps the search engine better understand what you offer.
Do You Keep Your Business Data Up To Date?
Details count. Mundane things like your hours and other basic information should be up to date at all times. Some companies don’t stay on top of this—and they do it at their own peril.
Inaccurate details may not affect your ranking—at least not directly. However, if a person discovers a business isn’t open when they’re supposed to be, a bad online review isn’t far behind.
When changes are made at a business, those changes need to be reflected in Google My Business as well.
Stay On Top of Online Reviews
Reviews are a big deal to Google. Without question, they can affect rankings. Consequently, you want as many positive reviews as possible.
Businesses need to reply to these reviews whenever possible. It doesn’t matter whether the reviews are positive or negative.
By responding, companies show that they are concerned about what the public says. Google notices that as well. For anyone looking at this business, the owner’s earnest reply speaks volumes about the company’s commitment.
Don’t forget that replies can be made to Google My Business reviews within the dashboard:
Getting more reviews is always the right idea. It’s what makes GMB shine. For this to happen, you need to:
- Ask people to leave reviews. That may sound obvious but people often need to be asked.
- The process needs to be easy for them to accomplish.
Get Your Head in the Local SEO Game
It could be argued that local SEO is the nuts and bolts of any SEO strategy. It’s something you have to get right if you hope to enjoy a higher Google ranking.
3-pack, NAP citation, GMB profile… these are the local SEO tools you need to master in order to take your website to the next level of success.
Dreamscape Marketing has the knowledge and experience to take your SEO from good to great. Call us at 888.307.7304 today, and let’s discuss your digital marketing strategy.