Google, search engine giant, seen on laptop
Google Local Pack allows local businesses to be found at the top of SERPs

Using Google for Local Business

There’s no denying that Google is getting smarter. Since its creation more than 20 years ago, the search engine supergiant has been learning and growing. For a while it was just digital marketing experts, SEO professionals, and tech junkies growing alongside Google, learning its ways. These days local businesses are changing the way they work (some enthusiastically and some only out of sheer desperation) to grow alongside the ever-changing digital landscape and to work in the ways Google wants them too. An example of this is the new(ish) and rapidly evolving Google My Business (GMB) profile.

The Google Local Pack thrives on all the tricks businesses and media managers have speed-learned about GMB so their organizations show up first in search results even more pertinent.

Google Local Pack

The Google Pack itself has been around for more than five years now so users are already aware of its existence (even if they didn’t know what it was called). Though the Local Pack has gone through numerous versions over the years, today it is considered as the first three to five (including paid) results that appear in the search engine results page (SERP) below a miniature Google Maps box when a user searches with local intent.

Searching with “local intent” means that a user searches with terms suggesting they are only interested in finding things in close proximity to their search location.

Local Intent Search Terms:

  • Near me

  • Close by

  • Within walking distance

  • In my city

  • [item name] in [city or neighborhood]

Google for Local Business

Though the Local Pack is not a new concept, it has gained prominence in the search engine as Google has developed. The motivation behind this is to keep users on the page as long as possible. If a searcher can find attributions, location, ratings and visual map directions all without leaving Google, that’s a win for the engine.

All local businesses should be taking certain steps to make the most of this search engine strategy. The most clear cut way to do so is by maintaining an updated and relevant GMB profile. It is from these profiles that Google draws from for their local pack.

A recent study showed that only 46% of GMB profiles were confirmed, so if you’re looking to make sure your shop shows up when customers in your vicinity search for your service with local intent, the first thing you need to do is confirm that your GMB profile is verified.

Additionally, businesses should confirm that keywords to describe the business, products or services offered show up prominently in keyword rankings. This ensures that when users search “pizza near me,” Google can crawl the site and see that a business sells pizza, ergo populating the SERP with that business listing.

It is important, too, to make sure that your website and GMB listing prominently display the township or neighborhood and city in which a business is located so when users search for things like “pizza in [city],” you appear as a result. Without this keyword strategy built into a local business’s online presence, search engines cannot learn locations. Thus, they cannot populate local intent searches with businesses that lack these key phrases.

See How You Rank

If a business has an up-to-date GMB profile and a website that clearly states a service or product, and location the last step is to give their business a search engine test run. This is where things get tricky and only the most tech-savvy businesses are able to take full advantage of this Google for local business feature.

As proximity is relative, local intent searches can change depending on a variable down to just a few city blocks. Here you are confronted with two options to see how your business ranks in local search results.