In the search results, local businesses compete for attention in two places – organic search results and local pack.
To win a prominent spot in organic search results, you will need to heavily invest in your website.
Whereas, to win the local map pack, you need a tightly optimized Google Business profile, which doesn’t require that many resources.
In the local map pack, one of the most definitive factors is proximity. So, you won’t be competing against all the businesses in your industry that are located in your city.
Just the ones that are closer to the user, which greatly reduces the competition and increases your chances of appearing on top of the map.
In this guide, we will cover all the essential steps you need to take to optimize your Google Business profile to appear in the local pack results.
The SEO Task List for Local Businesses.
1. Claim your profile: Claim your business listing or create a new one.
2. Verification: Verify your business listing. Enter your business address to receive a postcard, and when it arrives enter the code. In some cases, you can verify your listing with your email or phone number.
3. Name: Do not stuff keywords or any other information. Add your exact business name.
4. Address: Add your business address. If you work from home or you meet your clients at their location, you can choose to hide your address so it won’t be displayed.
5. Phone number: Add the primary phone number you want your customers to contact you.
6. Website: Add your website URL.
7. Cover image: Upload a high-quality enticing cover image (1080×608 pixels).
8. Primary category: Research your competitors and choose your primary category.
9. Additional categories: Add secondary categories that are relevant to your business.
10. Service area: Add all the cities and areas you serve.
11. Proper hours: Add business operating hours, and confirm holidays and special hours.
12. CTA Buttons: Add buttons so users could call your business or schedule an appointment.
13. Business description: Write a unique short description for your business (up to 750 characters).
14. Services: Add services under every selected business category. If you don’t see a particular service in the drop-down menu, add a custom service.
15. Services description: Add a description for each service you are offering. Try to naturally incorporate keywords within the text.
16. Short name: Add a short name for your profile (up to 35 characters).
17. Products: If you sell products, list them. Add category and prices.
18. Photos & videos: Add high-quality photos and videos to your profile. Write a unique caption for each photo and video.
19. Posts: Publish posts regularly, minimum once a week. Add a unique high-quality image for your posts (1200×900 pixels). Add a page you want your post to link to.
20. Google Business app: Download the app on your phone so you could easily respond to messages.
21. Reputation management: Create a template for responding to customer reviews. Especially create a plan of how you are going to handle negative reviews.
22. Review link: Create a review short link so that your customers could leave you a review in one click.
23. Reviews: Respond to all reviews, good and bad. The only exception is when you think that the review is fake. Don’t reply to fake reviews, that way it will be easier to remove them.
24. Keywords in reviews: When you ask customers for a review, tell them to mention your services or products.
25. Q&A: Create a Q&A section. Add questions your customers often ask about your products or services and answer them.
26. Customers’ questions: Answer all questions customers ask.
27. Citations on key sites: Get your business features on primary business directories i.e. Bing Maps, Apple Maps, Yellowpages, Yelp, D&B, CityGrid, etc.
28. Local citations: Get your business listed in your local business directories.
29. Citations audit: Audit your existing citations and make sure that your NAP is consistent on all platforms.
30. Progress: Google Business dashboard allows you to track information such as the number of times your business appeared in the search results, how many times people called your business, etc. Keep an eye on this statistic and make adjustments to your strategy as needed.
Having a locally optimized website is not necessary for the local map pack.
But it can give you an edge over your competition.
So, consider investing in your website SEO to further expand your reach and attract even more customers for your local business.