Why am I not ranking #1 in the local pack? We optimized our Google My Business listing.”

This is a question we get a lot. Business owners come to us wondering why their phone isn’t ringing off the hook after optimizing their local listings.

Allow us to explain:

Yes, You Need To Optimize Your Local Listing

Your local listing management strategy needs to include having completely up-to-date information.

Think of your local listing like a spot in the local yellow pages. These traditional directories organized companies by industry, then services, then alphabetically.

Google made this model more efficient over the years. Instead of sorting listings in alphabetical order, they serve the business that is most likely to be able to satisfy a searcher’s needs.

One of the principal ways Google determines that search ranking is by checking and cross-checking key business information to ensure you’re legitimate. It takes your NAP data (address, phone number, and business name) and ensures it is consistent across other online listings, including Bing, Yahoo, and local directories.

If your NAP data is the same across all these data aggregators (and the more then better), then your business is seen as legitimate. remember, legitimate businesses are more likely to solve a searcher’s needs, so Google is more likely to show them at higher levels.

But Your Online Listing Management Is Just One Factor

Citation building and local listing management is just the beginning of local SEO. It gets you into the game, but it doesn’t guarantee to win any business.

Simply ­­having consistent citations in Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yelp used to separate you from your competitors, but now the competition has woken up and smelled the search engine optimization coffee.

Unless your business exists in a non-competitive location and vertical, there is so much more you need to do if you want to drive traffic and generate leads from your local listing.

Managing your local listings and citations is a good foundation for your local strategy. But it will not set you apart from the competition, and will not help you generate business.

Link Authority & User-Experience

Google and other search engines take your business’s overall online presence into account when deciding to reward the best search rankings.

When we say your overall online presence, we mean the authority you have generated from other websites, such as local blogs linking to your site. Your online presence can also include your listings across multiple directories as well as the satisfaction a user gets when they visit your website.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Are other popular websites linking to your website? 
  • Does your site also include in-depth service pages that address customer FAQs? 
  • How about regularly published blog posts that demonstrate thought-leadership in your industry? 
  • Do you make it easy for your visitors to understand your business model and how it will make their lives easier?

If you’re shaking your head to these questions, you can start to see why simply optimizing for Google My Business isn’t enough to land you on spot number one.

Sure you might have a superior product to your competitors, but if they are doing a better job sharing their message across a broader and easy to digest online presence, they’ll be rewarded the online traffic (and thus the revenue).

A Coffee Shop Example

When someone runs a local search for “Coffee Near Me” in Google maps, they don’t want a list of run-in-the-mill coffee shops, they want the best coffee shop near them.

Search engines will likely give the highest rank to the business who demonstrates that they are the best shop near the searcher. So first of all, your NAP data must check out across multiple directories and review sites. You also need to be clearly defined as a “Coffee Shop” or that coffee is one of your core specialties.

Now that you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably competing with about 10 other shops who have done the same, so search engines take it one step further by crawling your website, analyzing its authority and content marketing.

The most effective tactic for local ranking by far is local link building.

If every food magazine and lifestyle blogger around town is linking to your site in a post talking about how your coffee is the best in town, Google will get the hint.

And when a searcher in your city asks Google where the “best coffee shop in town” is, Google is more likely to serve up directions to your shop right there in the local pack.

Beyond link authority, web crawlers might look at if you describe your location on your website, making it easier for searchers to understand the area you are in and the things that set you apart. They may even look for a gallery page and how many pictures you have coffee.

In addition to having a website with lots of information about coffee coffee coffee, Google recognizes that the best coffee places also have smiling baristas and serve dishes that complement coffee, such as breakfast sandwiches. With that in mind, having content around topics related to coffee is important, too.

They’ll even crawl your social media pages to ensure you’re active on there.

Also, do you offer free wi-fi? If so, it better be known to your searchers and search engines alike.

Expert Local Listings Management

As you can see, ranking at the top of a local search is about much more than local listing management. Suddenly you need to optimize a laundry list of things to stay competitive. 

Technical website management, along with a comprehensive content marketing, link building and review management strategy is the competitive difference-makers that will help you stand out from your competition.

The recipe for local SEO success is complicated. Partnering with a digital marketing agency that goes beyond a simple Yext update is almost a given in today’s landscape. 

At Digital Strike, we take your entire online presence into account to get you to the top of search queries that matter the most for your business. We work with large and small businesses across the country to maximize local results. 

If you need digital marketing services to make your online presence more robust, give us a call today.  


Photo credit: https://www.masslivemedia.com/



Jay Buerck

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