How to Improve Local Ranking in 2016

In the summer of 2015, Google updated their “local pack” results to only include three businesses. If you’re unfamiliar with “local pack” results, it reflects the number of company listings that are displayed in the results section when you type something such as “marketing companies near me” into a Google search.

The Impact on your Google Rankings

So Google used to feature 7 companies in this section, but now it’s only 3. This means that it’s even harder to rank in local search results. Given the increasing competition for this prime real estate, it’s important that companies do everything within their means to improve their local search ranking.

Below is a list of ways that you can improve your local search rankings in 2016:

  1. First things first – claim and verify your Google business page on Google My Business. Make sure that you claim a business page and not a brand page if possible. Business pages appear in Google Maps and the local packs of search results. They also display your address, category, and hours. Snippets of brand pages can appear in search results but they simply do not provide the same level of visibility as a business page.
  1. Fully optimize your business page. While this can seem like a no-brainer, sometimes it is easy to look past optimizing the page. After you have verified it (which can sometimes be a process in itself), it’s easy to assume you’ve done all you need to do. Make sure that you have the correct address, phone number, and your website URL. Additionally, add as many applicable categories as possible and upload photos of your location, staff, and products. Having a complete profile goes a long way.
  1. Ask for reviews. The more positive reviews you have on Google, the better. Ask your happy customers to drop a quick line and boost your profile.
  1. Make sure your website is mobile responsive. At this point, this should be a no-brainer. Click here to read more about why this is important.
  1. Don’t forget about other directories. Google is not the only local search player. Use the Moz Local website to register for other important directory sites, such as Yelp, Bing, Facebook, and SuperPages.
  1. Include content on your website about areas served. Make sure that your address and phone number are in the footer of your website, on your contact page and even on your “About” page. While you’re at it, embed your Google map listing on your contact page. Where applicable, create content about the areas you serve. Make sure to use location-specific terminology on your website when possible. Don’t stuff those keywords, though!
  1. Consistent NAP is key. NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone number. Make sure that you present your NAP consistently across all directories and your site. For example, do not do this sometimes:

1161 Broad St.
Suite 318
Shrewsbury, NJ 07702

And then this format at other times:

1161 Broad Street #318
Shrewsbury, NJ, 07702

Likewise, don’t list your phone number as (732) 380-8400 sometimes, 732.380.8400 other times, and then 732-380-8400 in other places. The important thing is to stay consistent.

This applies to your company name too. If you are listed as Grass Roots Marketing on one site, do not register another directory listing as GRM.

While we’re on the topic of what to do, here’s what not to do:

  1. Put an 800 number on a listing as your phone number. Use a local area code to match the location address.
  1. Create duplicates. Try not to have multiple listings with the same company name or the same address. It’s just as important to close or mark duplicate or incorrect listings as it is to create a properly optimized one.
  1. Add keywords to your business name. This falls under the same category as #7 above. Simply use your business name and stop trying to play the bots. They will notice.

For local businesses, appearing in local search results can make a huge difference in marketing efforts. Let us know in the comments your experiences with local search.