With Google reducing the radius that local businesses can be found, and with cities showing multiple packs based on searcher proximity, every effort should be made to understand the top local ranking factors and which factors we can influence directly through local search optimization.
The Resources and References Used in the GMB Ranking Study
1) Ranking Data From Across the More Than 200 Active GMB Optimization and Local SEO Campaigns that We Manage
6) Think with Google - Micro-Momments
Hey there, it's Chaz here, ready to discuss the top ranking factors for GMB SEO and what exactly you can do to influence as many of the factors as possible.
Ranking in the 3 Pack oftentimes requires more than completely filling-out a GMB Listing and we will be exploring these additional factors in detail.
Before beginning any optimization efforts it is important to start on an equal foundation, and for that you need to understand there are 4 main Local Keyword Variations you can optimize for.
I recommend that you attempt to optimize for all four variations in order to gain as much exposure and visibility as possible, and that is the approach we take in our own GMB optimization campaigns.
I am inclined to believe Google when they updated their published Local Search Ranking Guide to specifically state that GMB Snack Pack Rankings are based on three elements: Distance, Relevance, and Prominence. Our own tests as well as those done by others all tend to support these 3 factors are the components of the local search algorithm.
Distance Factors - Google states, "how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn't specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location"
Key Takeaway and Action Item - The only element we have any control over is making sure that we do use location and city keywords throughout the entire optimization process, whether we are writing a GMB description or optimizing the linked website on-page elements the use of location keywords and identifiers is of paramount importance.
Relevance Factors - Google goes on, "Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches"
Key Takeaway and Action Items - For best results choose to optimize for locations the business has physical addresses in and then utilize your location keywords strategically with specific service and/or product keywords and descriptors throughout the GMB listing and associated local search campaign.
Prominence Factors - Google continues, "Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business's local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization"
Key Takeaway and Action Items - Prominence Factors are the area where we, as local SEO's, can make the most impact and truly influence local search rankings when you take a holistic and comprehensive strategy to local search optimization.
Whether if you choose to outsource the GMB optimization process to a white label company like Web 2.0 Ranker or to do all of the tasks for yourself, you should also incorporate elements such as:
Remember businesses with higher ranking websites also tend to significantly rank higher in the Snack Pack, so it is imperative that you use a holistic strategy. Optimize your GMB listing but also rank your website.
Please Note: If you choose our team to white label your GMB optimization campaigns please note we do not currently offer a local search on-page optimization service. But I did make the video below to help you cover each element thoroughly so you can get your on-page right.
Local Review Funnels
Use a service like Get 5 Stars, Bird Eye or our own white-labelled reputation management dashboard "Local Rep Guard" to offer online review management and review gathering. Remember, businesses with more real reviews more frequently tend to rank higher.
Local review funnels also make for a great up-sale or value add-on service for your clients. It is easy to show the value of filtering negative reviews while encouraging positive online reviews for their business. Simply do a Google search and ask them would they call a 1 star dentist or a 4.9 star dentist to fix their children's teeth?
Linkbuilding - Niche and Location Specific
It makes sense that link building remains a top GMB ranking factor when you also consider that quality link building will also help rank your website organically. Google sees each link as a vote of confidence for your website and therefore for your brand.
And if you decide to outsource your link building, Web 2.0 has teamed up with Mark from LCT to offer a quality niche link building service called Niche It Down.
Social Profile and Brand Account Optimization
Each GMB optimization campaign should also include Social Account Set-Up and Optimization, Branded Web 2.0 Set-Up and Optimization and the Top Online Business Directory Set-Up and Optimization as well.
Not only are these complimentary tasks for any holistic SEO campaign, these important brand mentions are what builds a brand's authority. These brand signals Google uses to evaluate the strength of a brand.
We offer a comprehensive National Business Listing and Business Directory Management Service designed specifically to target, manage and monitor the top business directories in the US and Canada (and included as part of our 120 Day Advanced Local SEO Campaign)
Our National Business Listing Service Allows You to Update Your Business Info Anytime, Find and Fix Any Auto-Generated Listngs and Ensure a Consistent NAP Across the Top Directories
Additionally, we continue to offer complete social account building and optimization packages designed to allow a brand to easily claim and optimize the top 45 social profiles and brand accounts.
Remember the importance of building out and diversifying your local optimization efforts beyond Google to places like Yelp, Apple Maps and Facebook. Make sure you’re on Apple Maps, Yelp, BBB, TripAdvisor, Avvo, Angie's List, etc, and that your profiles are claimed, optimized, and enhanced with as much information as possible. If the local pack results are crap, a lot of people will click on Yelp, YP, a Local Facebook Page or Angie's List. You want to be where they are clicking.
The Possum Update was a major shake-up to local search, with many verified GMB listings simply disappearing from search results. The prime effects of Possum are most seen in the following 4 scenarios:
#1 Perform a Local Search that pulls a Snack Pack and Click "More Places"
#2 Note Only 4 Listings in Our Example - Now Click the "+" Button to Zoom on the Map
#3 Now Note the 2 Pages of Results that Are Being Filtered By Possum
If high SERP rankings still equates to sites with strong backlink profiles, then the nature of My Map backlinks should not be ignored. And when properly utilized, these authority microsites can become valuable SEO assets for any brand.
Hey, it's Chaz again offering another insight into one of my favorite local maps SEO strategies, the custom My Map.
I have been building and optimizing these little micro-sites for awhile now as part of my "off-listing" GMB optimization strategy. Why? Because they work great for authority links for local brands.
Hey there you GMB SEO Ninjas, it's Chaz again with another other the shoulder look at how we add a massive dose of local relevancy to our websites and make Google Bot fall in love with us.
Not only do we see better rankings in Local Maps from using this approach, but also in the organic SERPs too.
Just a word of advice before we dive into the nuts and bolts. have patience when waiting for results from on-page changes. We usually don't see movement for 7 to 10 days after doing on-page optimization.
If you are struggling to develop a GMB Optimization System, don't fret we have you covered with a done-for-you solution that will completely take care of all the tasks needed to optimize your Google My Business listing. Learn about everything we do to give you that added advantage in local maps SEO