For a local business (especially a local SEO agency!), there is no better position in the SERP (search engine results page) than at the top of the local pack. It sits above all the traditional organic listings and has a prominent placement along with contact details and rating stars.
And for such excellent exposure, the challenge to rank is often less competitive than other SERP placements!
Of course after we launched Upgrow.io we also claimed our agency's San Francisco HQ Google My Business listing in July of 2018 to start showing up on Google Maps and Google local search results. As a digital marketing agency offering local SEO services we of course wanted to rank well, but I can assure you there are hundreds of other Search Engine Optimization agencies and consultants also vying for that honor.
I'm pleased to report that after 6 months we have toppled the incumbents to rank that top position in San Francisco. So how did we do it?
Create a Complete Google My Business Listing
It seems intuitive but just claiming your listing and fully completing the profile takes you past 80-90% of competitors who don't bother. If you're not sure how to claim your listing - it's not too difficult. You will need to be able to receive mail at your address though for the verification code Google sends out.
Once the business is claimed, be sure to:
- Business details: business name, email, phone number, website link, business description, categories (i.e. web design, social media, marketing services, etc.
- Upload photos: team/staff group photo, interior, exterior, products (if applicable), founder photo, "at work" photo, etc
- Upload video: include a video (it can be uploaded under the Photo tab)
- Share posts: create a weekly post
- Contact link: this is a new feature so be sure to point it to your contact page.
Embed Your Listing on Your Website
Embed your Google My Business listing on your website at least once. This gives the listing more credibility and I wouldn't doubt Google has some bias to sites linking to Google Maps.
Just link most things related to organic search, inbound links are part of the ranking algorithm. So build some links to your local listing URL however you can. Some of the easier are your own social media accounts.
Use a Local Listing Management Service
You want to have your local listing not just on Google Maps but also on Facebook, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, Yelp, FourSquare, and even the classic sites like MapQuest, YellowPages.com, and so on. It's unreasonable to manually create and manage your listing across all these sites so use a local listing distributor. The big players are Yext and Moz Local in my opinion. Yext is more expensive but any updates go out more quickly. Moz Local is much, much more affordable ($99/yr per location) and does a great job.
You will need to have already claimed your local listing on either Facebook or Google My Business for verification prior to using Moz Local. Just like with your Google Maps listing you should fully complete your profile and upload photos.
Get Real 5-Star Reviews
Next you need to get some good ratings and reviews. We emailed a batch of clients asking if they would mind providing a review and also shared the request on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media accounts. While we work with many clients virtually and have clients across the country, if you are a local retailer or service provider it will be better to have your reviews coming from your local market.
For example, if you're located in Chicago or San Diego - your reviews should come from Chicago or San Diego as well.
Whether you're a small business or global corporation, having a high ranking and high quality local listing not only adds credibility but also drives significant awareness, traffic (both online and offline), and phone calls. It's a fairly simple and basically free marketing effort that also compliments your other SEM and SEO strategies.
Do you know of other local ranking factors I missed or tactics you've used successfully? Add them to the comments below!
And if you're interest in local marketing strategy then be sure to learn more about our SEO services.