Google Places Optimization – How to Rank Despite the Google 3-Pack Changes

Photo via FreeImages.com/MarkoPekicHow to combat the new Google Local changes with these Google Places Optimization tips!

Chances are if you’re at all tuned in to the digital marketing radio that are the usual marketing news sites online then you already know there’s news on the local front.

Google is now showing only three business instead of seven in the “Local Pack” at least 75% of the time.

Big news?

It’s about as big as the King himself entering the building! (We know, we know, so 50s. Humor us.)

The shake up is unexpected and has done more than rattle rankings. It’s also caused us to take a step back and re-evaluate our sweet, sweet local marketing moves.

Your Name Isn’t Baby and You Aren’t Backed Into a Corner

The good news?

If you had good local, mobile, and digital marketing practices before, chances are you won’t need to change much. After all, good habits pay off in the long run. And if there’s anything Google ranking are it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

The bad news?

If you haven’t been doing anything for local or mobile marketing then you might not be one of the ‘lucky three’ showing up anymore. Fortunately, we’re here to help get you started back on the right path.

So where to start?

  1. Local Listings

Have you been keeping up with your local listings? It’s not enough to only have your Google Places and Google Map location set up. There are other listing agents out there: Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, etc. Don’t forget all those industry specific ones as well!

On the same note, be sure you’ve got your NAP down pat. Don’t remember what that NAP citation is? Read on.

  1. Geo-Targeting SEO

Despite what you hear, SEO isn’t dead. It’s just evolved some. From directory listings to link-earning to keywords, now’s the time to go back and take a look at just what you are marketing for and who you are marketing to.

Also consider going niche. Can you get more specific? Perhaps it’s time to start specializing a bit further than before with your keywords. Chances are there will be less competition and you may just find your true core audience.

  1. Reviews

Who hasn’t chosen a restaurant or a service using Yelp these days? Or double-checked a business on Google reviews, just to be sure they’re open/reputable?

Encourage reviews from your customers. Set up a place in store if you have to that offers shoppers an opportunity to review. Even better, talk to customers as they come through. You get a review, they get a personalized interaction with you. Win-win!

(Just remember, it’s often against terms to offer compensation in any form for reviews; check the service.)

Need help implementing a way for customers to review you online? We’ve got a blog post for that.

  1. Social Media

The sock hop may not be cool anymore but social media still is. We could go on about the benefits of social media: building relationships, establishing brand reputation, customer service, showcasing transparency and trust, providing outreach, etc. (Expect a post some time soon about it all!)

Yet the point remains: Google takes into account just how active your social sites are in relation to your own main page. Particularly since most social platforms allow not only a bio page with your website URL but also allow posting of your own pages.

Not active? Time to sign up!

  1. Mobile Optimization

Rumor has it that mobile may be a factor in how these new Local Pack rankings are determined. Especially as locations show up in 3-packs when using Google on mobile.

Either way,when 51% of Americans surf the new via their smart phones versus desktop users, it can’t hurt to be sure your website is optimized for use on mobile devices.

Time To Boogie on To The Top

Is this a sure fire list? Only time will tell. But these 2015 digital marketing basics are just that: the bottom line. Start here, add on what works for your business, and start building that strong foundation to set your local marketing and local search efforts up for success.

Did we miss anything? Let us know! We’ll try keep you up to date on all the latest Google Places Optimization strategies we use to Rank our Clients inside Local Oxygen.

 

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