The background: As a rule, search engines such as Google, Bing & Co know exactly where the person placing a search query is by IP address or GPS signal. In this way, requests with a suspected local reference are automatically filtered. For example, Google displays a Local Pack: The SERP (Search Engine Result Page) first three search results are displayed in conjunction with a map and the exact location of the addresses. So it’s all the more important that Google knows exactly where my company or product offering is located to be displayed at the right time. For example, if you search for the term “bakery” or “electronics” in the browser, you will automatically receive suggestions about bakeries or electronics shops in your area.
In addition, the smartphone is a natural companion in everyday life and shopping. Users are increasingly looking for information about the local environment, products and services via their mobile phones. The search engines respond and proactively display local information.
Crystal clear is therefore the great importance of a top placement in the local environment, whether it is branches, local service providers, shops or service providers. But the question arises: how does my company make it into the top spots in local search results?
Consistent location information
The core element is the local data in directories. By far the most important element for Google is the entry in Google My Business (GMB). MOZ has analyzed the local search ranking factors in the latest report and notes that the Google My Business listing has the highest importance for determining the Local Pack. Still in fourth place is the entry in the meaning in the determination of the local organic ranking.
In addition to the GMB, there are a variety of other directories and online maps that capture and display corporate data. Who does not use them, the search functions of GelbeSeiten, yelp, Meinestadt, Foursquare or Das Örtliche and who does not use the map functions of TomTom, Apple Maps or Google Maps. And that’s just a tiny excerpt from all the directories. The more consistent the data across all directories, the better the SEO-side weighting.
The data recorded in the individual directories depends on the objectives of the operators. The company name, telephone number, website and address are almost always queried. Other data may include opening hours, e-mail addresses, industry, services, attributes, pictures or brief descriptions.
For individual stores, the data is still relatively easy to maintain. For branch networks with hundreds of locations, this exercise quickly becomes a Herculean task. Too much data needs to be maintained and often updated at short notice. Different tools, such as Yext, can help to keep data consistent across directories and provide good service.
In Focus: Google My Business
The most important entry, as mentioned before, is Google My Business. According to the current MOZ study, it now accounts for a quarter of Google’s top ranking factors, and Google is still by far the most popular information search engine.
Not only is the Google My Business listing free, it’s also a wonderful way to showcase yourself when a business creates it in the Knowledge Panel. The Knowledge Panel displays information such as contact details or opening hours from GMB, a prominent advertising space that gives interested parties a wealth of important information and interaction options at a single glance. Whether or not information about a company can be seen in the Knowledge Panel results, as in the case of search results, from various factors. The local search results include relevance, distance, and awareness of the company.
Also at GMB visual elements are an important eye-catcher. Appealing and regularly changing images serve the image and increase the chance of a good ranking. Recently, Google also offers the opportunity to post current postings in GMB. These text messages are displayed in the Knowledge Panel for only 7 days. No matter whether special offers, events, blog entries or company news are posted, the contributions are evidence of actuality and creativity. In addition, the postings are ideally associated with an inviting call-to-action that invites interaction, such as a “reserve now”, “download online form here” or “buy now”.
Not only retailers, but also non-store businesses, such as online stores, can create a Google my Business listing to increase their visibility.
Interaction SEA and SEO:
If you maintain your location data consistently across different directories, update it regularly, and send strong local signals, you have the best chance of being top of the organic results display or even appearing in the Local Pack. Well-maintained, SEO-optimized websites with local content have an equally positive effect here. But SEA campaigns can also benefit from GMB. If the Google Ads account and the GMB account are linked then, for example, data from GMB can be used for location or call extensions.
In addition, Local Inventory Ads can be booked for local retailers. These ads are only visible to users in the business environment in the Knowledge Panel. In combination with a search function for the products available in the store, the user receives in this way selected product proposals with image and availability. A strong invitation for the visit of the business.
The importance of reviews is known from other online marketing disciplines like Amazon. They are also gaining importance for digital location management and are included in the ranking algorithm. For example, companies can proactively direct customers to the review page with a link to get more reviews. The MOZ analysis puts the influence of the reviews on the Local Pack at 15%, whereby not only the quality of the evaluation flows in but also the number and timeliness of the submitted reviews. Companies that conduct review management and thus generate new and up-to-date valuations clearly have an advantage. The Knowledge Panel displays the company’s reviews as well as the Local Pack.
Unfortunately, digital location management has not yet arrived in all companies. Above all, the care of the GMB is a not to be underestimated influencing factor on the success. From the local online marketing, often in conjunction with omnichannel marketing, he is due to its ranking-promoting effect is indispensable. Consistent maintenance of corporate data across all online directories is a serious task that pays off online and offline:
Create a Google My Business listing. Maintain all company-relevant data such as address and contact details and keep the opening times up-to-date (including holidays). Update pictures and postings regularly.
Ensure consistent location data from all business directories and digital services across, manually or reliable using a tool or service partner
Keep local SEO optimized content to your website ready
Control the amount with a targeted review management of positive and current valuations