capture local business by ranking in the Google Maps 3-pack

Local SEO: the key to local businesses thriving!

Local search engine placements can mean life or death for local businesses. Picture two companies offering the same product or service. One is slightly superior to the other, but the marginally-inferior company shows up in the top 3 Google Maps search results for several high-traffic keywords. Guess which brand is thriving? The one customers find, that's which!

Local SEO for local businesses

If you own a business and you want more local customers, local search engine optimization is one of the best investments you can make.

Unless you offer something so obscure that search volume for your product or service is nil, it makes sense to optimize your brand to appear in response to search queries by local potential customers.

What is a local business?

99% of businesses in the world are local businesses. A local business is merely a business that transacts with customers in its own geographic region.

Local businesses include hairdressers, home service trades such as roofers and plumbers, yoga studios, restaurants, veterinarians, attorneys, tailors, daycare centers, private schools, martial arts studios, dry cleaners, and hundreds of other categories of business.

More like, what is NOT a local business?

The only businesses not considered local tend to be a) brands that primarily sell online, b) large corporations, or c) knowledge-based businesses (software companies, consultants). Even these may have a strong local component to their revenue stream.

In short, local businesses:

• have physical locations
• do business with people in the same geographic area as their brand's physical location
• are most businesses

What is local SEO?

Local Search engine optimization takes a slightly different approach from national SEO. While both approaches work to enhance a brand's digital halo and topical relevancy, local SEO prioritizes brand properties with a geographical tie-in.

If your potential customers are in your own city or town, then local SEO matters a lot. Local SEO targets the person searching for a product, service, or other business near their own location. Examples of local search queries would be:

• "best hair salon Salt Lake City"
• "austin microbreweries"
• "mechanic near me"

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Google recognizes local search intent

Google has gotten very good at identifying user intent behind a search query. It flags local searches and treats them differently than it would a search that did not involve proximity.

Take the following search queries:

• "best bmw accessories" (national search query; someone wants to accessorize their car and is conducting research, possibly with intent to buy said accessories online)
• "bmw accessories installers" (local search query; someone wants help accessorizing their car)

Both search terms contain "bmw accessories," yet Google treats them very differently.

Building a three-way search engine association

Essentially, we're looking to reinforce a strong three-way association to Google's algorithm. We're training the bot (and yes, Google is just a bot) that... 

• your brand
• your location
• your niche (product or service)

...are all highly relevant to one another.

The goal: someone mentions two of the three elements above and the algorithm fills in the third. Someone performs a search that references your product / service and your location; Google fills in your local business and serves it up as a top search result.

Google Maps a key component

Local SEO, like national or organic SEO, seeks to rank the official website of a local business or organization high in the SERPs (search engine results pages). Unlike national SEO, your brand's Google Maps listing becomes as crucial as, if not more crucial than, your website.

The goal of local SEO is to have your website AND your Google Maps listing appear in response to local organic search queries. Of the two—business website and Google Maps listing—the latter is arguably of higher importance. 

Why is your Google Maps listing so important for local search rankings? Because it's highly visible, and it already has the geographic and category association built-in. 

Your website has nothing intrinsic that tells Google what industry you're in, or what product or service you offer. Your Google Maps listing does.

In the owner's dashboard of your Maps listing, you can dictate all sorts of useful information to Google. And, because you're doing so inside Google's own product, Google pays attention.

But, we're getting ahead of ourselves. More on the dashboard in a bit.

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Google My Business: a free powerhouse for local SEO

Google gives every business a free Maps listing. It's easy to claim and verify, and once you do, your business appears on Google Maps. (If you haven't claimed your Google Maps listing, do so immediately!)

Google calls its free Maps listing "Google My Business," which is often abbreviated GMB. Long ago, it was known as Google Places, but has been Google My Business since around 2014.

(If you hear someone say "Google Places," you know they've been in the search engine optimization business a while...and maybe haven't bothered to keep up to speed with the latest SEO developments!)

Google My Business is very powerful for your local search presence, and, indeed, for your brand's overall online footprint.

Let's have a deeper look into Google My Business.

The ins and outs of a Google Maps GMB listing

Your Google My Business listing has 2 interfaces: the "outside" customer-facing aspect (what a customer interacts with when they find you on Google Maps), and the "inside" dashboard, where a business owner manages what brand information appears on Google Maps.

Outside the GMB: Google Maps

When potential customers find your business on Google Maps, they can interact with your listing in a variety of ways:

• read reviews left by other customers (hopefully positive reviews!)
• leave a review of your business (hopefully a positive review!)
• view photos of your business
• get directions to your business address
• Read your business description (the one the business owner adds inside the GMB dashboard; see next section)
• View products (added inside the GMB dashboard as well)
• Read posts the business has made on Google My Business
• Look at services the business offers (added inside the GMB dashboard)
• Click a link to see the company website
• Click a phone icon to call the business
• Send a message over the Google My Business portal

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Inside: the Google My Business owner dashboard

The Google My Business dashboard is where the business owner adds all of the brand information that a potential customer sees on Google Maps. 

The GMB dashboard has many fields and features, and you should always add as much information about your brand and its product or service as possible.

Brand information you can manage inside the GMB:

• Company NAP (name, address, phone number)
• Business description
• Category (what industry or niche your company falls into)
• Opening date
• Photos
• Products
• Services
• Posts (essentially a blogging-type feature native to Google My Business)
• and much more

Note: you should write optimized content for your GMB, much as you would for your brand website, including relevant Google entities.

The power of the GMB

Why does focus so heavily on the GMB to produce results for our local clients?

• Customers trust Google Maps. Often, a customer will select from the top Maps results after performing a local search query. A person can easily look at the top Maps listings, check the reviews, click through to the website, or click to call.
• Google Maps results show up high on the page for local searches, especially on mobile.
• Google Maps is owned by Google (obviously); Google trusts Google, meaning that your brand's credibility and relevancy increases by being on Maps.
• You can tell Google exactly what your business does! Again, for the people in the back: you get to tell Google exactly what categories your business falls into, and what products or services your business offers! Sure, on a website you can do this with schema, but the GMB dashboard allows you to dictate this information right into Google’s listening ear, as it were.

In short, Google My Business is an incredible tool that costs you nothing and brings amazing benefits to your brand's online presence.

Optimizing the GMB...and beyond excels at Google My Business optimization. But we don't stop there. We deploy sophisticated multi-channel optimization campaigns that harness a brand's GMB, website, social media channels, and much more.

Winning local search

An SEO agency skilled in local SEO knows how to optimize for geographically-specific search terms so that the digital footprint of your business rises in digital prominence for your city or town for all of the high-traffic target keywords related to your offerings.

While your Google My Business listing matters hugely to local organic search rankings, so do many other factors:

• Your website's content
• Your website content's structure—a separate matter from the content itself
• Your website's internal linking stucture
• Brand citations across the web
• Social media channels and how they are optimized
• Website schema, also known as rich text, markup, structured data, or rich snippets
• ...and dozens of other ranking signals hits them all.

Where most SEO is one-dimensional, rolls out multi-dimensional SEO strategies.

When we run a local search engine optimization campaign for our customers, we bombard the Google algorithms with so many local organic ranking signals, from so many sources, that the poor Google bot has no choice but to create the associations we want it to.

The result? Our customers' brands climb steadily up the local organic rankings, both on Maps and elsewhere.

Google Maps uses a different search algorithm

While Google Maps search rankings have some correlation with "regular" search rankings, Maps diverges quite a lot. 

It's highly possible for a business to rank highly on Google Maps, but not at all on organic search results for the brand website. Or vice versa.

The reason? Google Maps uses a different ranking algorithm from traditional Google Search.

We at have a pretty good idea of what goes into ranking a Google My Business listing, and we have the results to prove it.
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Local SEO ranking improvements for a client

This Google Maps listing in Grand Rapids, MI was hardly showing up in the local search results for their main competitive keyword. One week of our Google ninja magic and the same brand topped Google Maps across most of its surrounding area, knocking out its competitors.
Local SEO - Google Maps search engine rankings improvement by
Note: these results are exceptional. Every client has a different timeframe for which their local SEO improves. Normal timespan for this level of improvement is 60-120 days.

We improve Google Maps and website rankings simultaneously

Here at, when we implement local SEO tactics, we're not looking to improve your Google Maps ranking in isolation, nor your website's SEO in isolation. We're improving the topical relevancy and authoritativeness of your entire brand, including:

• your organization's website
• your Google Maps (GMB) listing
• your social media accounts
• and many other brand properties

The rising SEO tide that lifts all brand assets

Our local SEO strategies result in an improvement of your total brand presence. Google does not view your website, social media accounts, and Google My Business listing in isolation, and neither do we.

If you're ready to reap the rewards of strong local search presence for your brand or organization, please contact today to discuss details!
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