Reviewed March 25, 2020

Optimizing your online presence for local searches can boost your traffic and sales by as much as 600% or more, according to some case studies. The reason is obvious. More than one-third of all searches and more than half (56%) of mobile searches have a local intent. Almost 8 in 10 people who search for a local business on mobile visit that business and buy from it, usually within a few hours. So, if local SEO hasn’t been on your mind for a while, now is a good time to start.

How Google Ranks Local Businesses

Last year, Google pulled the rug from under the feet of many local businesses by replacing its 7-pack local search results with the 3-pack. It means there are only three spots for local businesses on the first page. You must do everything to make your business appear in the top three positions, so you may drive the lion’s share of the organic traffic. You don’t want to be on page 2 and 3, which only get 5.59% of the total clicks (MOZ). You must also do everything to make users click on your listing and choose your business over competitors. You can achieve both of these goals by optimizing Google My Business.

How Google Ranks Local Businesses

Most of the information in your Google Local listing comes from your Google My Business page. This includes your business description, address and phone number, work hours, website, customer reviews, photos, and Google Maps results. Optimizing Google My Business can get you more traffic by improving your local ranking and click-through rate (CTR).

Google considers a number of factors to determine local rankings. The three leading parameters that Google says it measures are as follows:

  • Relevance: How relevant is your business for the query being searched? Providing complete and detailed business information on GMB helps Google understand your business better and match it with the relevant searches.
  • Distance: How far is your business from the location term the user is searching for? Hence, the search results for “Montreal coffee shop” are likely to be different from the results for “Old Port coffee shop”.
  • Prominence: How well-known is your business in the locality? Google considers both your offline and online reputation. Google determines the offline popularity of your business by the number of branded searches with your business’s name. Additionally, it also collects information about your business from your reviews on GMB and other local listings as well as your citations and mentions across the web. That’s why it is extremely important to build a strong citation profile, but that will come later.

Let’s do the basics first and start our journey to the 3-pack by optimizing your Google My Business.