Need Better Exposure in Local Google Search?
This blog post will serve as a guide, to help you understand how to rank beyond your location on Google. There are five different map clusters in which your business could show up. These map clusters include hyperlocal, local, regional, state-wide and national. If you want to beyond your current location on Google, it’s helpful to understand how each map cluster works. We will use a fictitious business to demonstrate how the clusters work and how this applies to a business.
Basti’s Brew is a famous coffee shop in South Lake Tahoe, CA, USA. The city where the coffee shop is located has a population of 50,000. Basti’s Brew is selling products directly to its customers. The business also serves several businesses-to-business clients, such as offices and schools within the small city.
Basti’s Brew is so popular in South Lake Tahoe that it was featured in a well known talk show. After learning about the business from tv, people from nearby towns started to call the company. These people were interested in getting more info about the delicious coffee products sold by Basti’s Brew.
The surge of interest in Basti’s Brew’s coffee products prompted the company to expand its operations beyond county borders. It is worth noting that Basti’s Brew started as a small business. Now the business is planning to establish a franchise in nearby towns or cities.
With the Basti’s Brew expansion plan, how will the business promote its visibility on Google? What strategies can help them extend their location on Google, so they appear in multiple areas? Let’s take a look.
Cluster 1: Hyperlocal Rankings
Using the correct strategy, Basti’s Brew is expected to rank locally in the area of South Lake Tahoe. This is possible because of Google’s Local Pack. This is sometimes also referred to as a Snack Pack or Map Pack.
A small business like Basti’s Brew can take advantage of this local pack. Google will show local pack results when searchers are physically visible in South Lake Tahoe and are searching exact keyword phrases related to the business establishment.
Factors to Consider
- The company (Basti’s Brew in this case) should know what the local area is like. Is the business operating in an urban area, a small town or in a big city?
- The company should know the level of competitiveness in the market. Are there any other businesses in their area offering the same kind of products and services?
It’s important to remember Google’s Local Pack results are based on the two factors above. The search results will center around the location of the person doing the Google search. Google will also look at the number of businesses in close proximity to the searcher. If there are at least three near-by businesses, Google can display those companies. When there aren’t three businesses close to the location, it will need to extend the radius of search to include a larger area.
If Basti’s Brew is the only search result that appeared near the Google user, Google is expected to look further out for other coffee shops to display.
Strategy: Optimize Hyperlocal Search
Hyperlocal search optimization can be done by following the suggested steps below. These steps will help your company rank better in Google’s hyperlocal packs. To start with, your business should:
- Create a Google My Business listing. When you create this listing, you should make sure to fill it out as completely as possible. Also, your business should make a point of acquiring good reviews. When you get them, take the time to respond to them.
- Create local business listings on as many high-quality local business directories as possible. This can be done manually by you. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to create these business listings on your behalf.
- Cite hyperlocal words or mention neighborhood terms in the company website. These types of words could be included on each page of the website your Google listing is linked to. For example, Basti’s Brew may wish to create a blog post about delivering coffee to a business in downtown South Lake Tahoe. Including “downtown” on their website can help them rank better, when someone is looking for coffee downtown.
- Use more advanced strategies like local linked unstructured citations if there’s strong market competition in your area. Unstructured citations are created when you add your business details (Name, address, phone number, etc.) in third-party websites that aren’t directories. Examples would include blogs, online news sites, etc. You can also use Google Posts to create neighborhood-oriented content and use Google Q&A to give your company an extra edge over tough competition.
Cluster 2: Local Rankings
What differentiates local rankings from hyperlocal rankings is that they cover the entire city as opposed to just a local neighborhood. Local rankings determine where a company is positioned within a Google search for a town or city.
If Google thinks that the intent of the search is local (the searcher wants a local coffee shop as opposed to general information about coffee), it will display a local pack of search results. As mentioned above, Google might also customize the results pack based on the physical location of the searcher. You should also keep in mind that any business that is authoritative enough can rank across a city or town for multiple search phrases and locations.
How Google Determines Local Ranking
Other factors that impact your location on Google are prominence, distance and relevance. All these factors are being taken into consideration when Google shows local results. These three factors are combined to produce the best possible match for a particular search.
Using the right strategy, any business could take good advantage of ranking locally in a particular town, or city for their target search terms or phrases.
Factors to Consider
- You should identify the locations in your city you currently rank well for, in the local pack. Then, identify the locations, in your city, you still need to rank for.
- Next, ask yourself what you specialize in. What separates you from your competition? What are your differential advantages and would it make sense for you to try and rank well in the local pack for those types of searches? Depending on their differential advantages, Basti’s Brew could target local search phrases like “cheap coffee near me,” “gourmet coffee in South Lake Tahoe” or “hip coffee cafes.”
- Consider launching creative marketing campaigns that will establish your authority in any special offering. Think of other effective business methodologies for name recognition in your local community. The goal here is to influence people throughout your entire city to know your name. You want them to search your name on Google and for your company to be regularly mentioned online. What can you do to make that happen?
Strategy: Optimize Local Search
- Identify and use multiple keyword phrases that would improve your business ranking. You can use several tools like Answer the Public and Google Trends to come up with popular questions your staff get asked by customers.
- Identify the competitors in your city, based on your targeted words or phrases. Then do a competitive audit on them. This is something your SEO manager should be able to help you with.
- You should observe how the Google local pack behaves surrounding your targeted phrases. When you search the various keyword phrases, do you see a pack of hyperlocal (neighborhood) results, do you see a pack of local (city) results, or do you see a different pack of results?
- Once you have identified your competitors, you should compare them side-by-side, with your own business included, to determine how each company ranks. Then see what is different about them that makes them out-perform you in your city. After you know what they are doing to rank at the top of a local search, then you can use that knowledge to improve your own local rankings. Some factors that will position your competitors ahead of you will likely be domain authority, reviews, local business listings, Google My Business ranking signals, the quality of their website, etc.
- Lastly, you should highlight your unique selling proposition on your website and surround it with great content to make your business stand out from your competitors.
Cluster 3: Regional Rankings
A significant hurdle exists when it comes to regional rankings, and this is the point where you need to answer some serious questions. Basti’s Brew is located in South Lake Tahoe and has huge potential to rank well in that town.
However, what if Basti’s Brew wants to expand their business into the nearby towns or counties. If the competition is high, it could be difficult for them to rank in the local pack for searches in neighboring cities. This begs the question, “what else can Basti’s Brew do to improve their visibility beyond South Lake Tahoe?”
Factors to Consider
- You need to ask yourself if what you have to offer is appealing enough for people from other cities to travel to you. If you’re located in Town A, and if you were able to rank in Town B, would people from Town B travel to Town A to do business with you? Also, is your business model one that can deliver products or services to Town B?
- Do you have a plan to build a physical footprint in areas where you lack physical presence? Does your business have relationships with nearby communities or is there a way you can build them?
Strategy: Optimize Regional Rankings
- You should assess the density of the business competition in your particular city or region.
- If you decide your business is unique to the geographic region, then you should implement the steps outlined above for local rankings. By doing all you can, you should be able to get dominant local pack results across several cities.
- If you found your business offering is not unique enough in a particular region, Google’s local pack rankings beyond the physical store location might not be achievable. Therefore, it might not be feasible to rank outside of your city. If this is the case, it would probably be best to focus on other marketing strategies. These other strategies might include search engine optimization, pay per click advertising and social media marketing. You may also want to do traditional marketing, through billboards, print ads, mailers, etc.
- You should decide if your business brand is consistently establishing good relationships with nearby cities and creating a footprint in various ways.
- In order to build this new footprint you should publicize it by writing content such as blog posts, guest posts, press releases, social media, advertising online and offline, including print, tv and radio. Try also to get as many backlinks, business directory listings and social shares as possible. You can also develop landing pages on your website for each of the cities you are targeting. Each page should have content that is relevant to each of the locations and showcase work, product/service features, customer reviews, tips, photos, videos and more.
Under this cluster, Google’s local packs are still relevant. However, the customer base of your business might not be considered truly local as you are looking for state-wide rankings.
This isn’t about multi-location businesses. Whenever you are trying to rank locally, you can refer to Clusters 1-3 for the best strategy, since you are trying to rank for any place you have a branch. This cluster is centered around helping a business with a state-wide offering, and how to get better visibility with it’s location on Google state-wide local packs.
Factors to Consider
- When you do a Google search, do the state-wide local pack results show up? Do these exist for the industry in which your business belongs? If these results do exist for your industry, is there a differential advantage for your business that might make it warrant showing up as a state-wide location on Google?
- Is your business likely to have people contacting you from outside your state? Will customers or clients from other states want to do business with you? Do you offer something so impressive or unique that it can’t easily be found in other areas?
- How can you make your business have greater visibility? What might you consider doing to differentiate your business from your competitors?
Strategy: Optimize State-Wide Rankings
- Be sure you’ve done all the basic local strategies. Also, do all you can to establish a fantastic local, hyperlocal and regional presence, both online and offline.
- If you do a search on Google, for relevant phrases in your industry, do you see a local pack for companies in different states? If so, just continue to amplify the local pack signals we have already mentioned above. This will help you become more authoritative and will make it easier to rank well for your state-wide location on Google.
- If Google does not return a state-wide local pack, this means you will be competing with other organic search results. In this case, you should shift the focus of your website to make it rank higher for non-local search results. This will likely require an aggressive on-site and off-site SEO strategy and execution. You may also want to consider implementing paid advertising through Google AdWords, Facebook Ads or other similar platforms. This way you can boost your exposure to other states.
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Cluster 5: National Rankings & Beyond
In this cluster, we will explore two common themes which don’t fall within the basic tenets of local search. First, Basti’s Brew is planning to become a nation-wide store. It’s their intention to sell and distribute coffee products outside of California and the surrounding states, in an attempt to become a national brand.
Another example is a digital brand that is supplying products to a national audience. It can be frustrating when they are outranked both in the local and organic results by local companies with many different locations.
Factors to Consider
- What is your business model? Are you selling business to business, business to consumer or both?
- Which marketing techniques will help you create better brand recognition? Is your business an e-commerce website where most of the revenue comes from online sales, with a few TV ads for branding? Or is your business an offline business that generates revenue in-store, with a website just for branding purposes?
- Do you need to regionalize your business offerings in order for you to succeed?
Strategy: Optimize National Rankings
- If you want rank well on a national level, you should know who your competitors are at the regional level and local level. This is the reason why both national/international brands should further improve their understanding of how local search works. This will allow them to locate and audit strong competitors so they can compete with them in the organic search engine results and fine-tune their products/services to appeal to regional needs.
- As a business owner, you should always be aware of the local pack presence because this is essential. Find a way to have personnel assigned to a particular office in your target region. You should avoid establishing a virtual office because this is forbidden by Google. You can however choose to explore co-working spaces. These spaces are staffed during business hours to get a taste of local search in new regions.
Summary for Extending Your Location on Google
In summary, you should set achievable expectations. This is considered to be one of the most important tasks. Using the correct strategy for your business will be the best way to manage your time, budget and goals.
Here are the basic steps:
- Determine your business model and identify the cluster for which you should show up as a location on Google.
- Check to see what type of local search cluster Google shows when you type keyword phrases relevant to your business.
- Analyze keyword search volume, the level of competition and your unique selling proposition, for the cluster you wish to target.
- Implement marketing strategies that will boost your exposure, both online and offline, in the area your wish to show up for on Google.
- Repeat this process as needed, when you prepare to improve your location on Google in larger clusters.
As a final note, it can be very challenging to increase your local rankings on Google. And, the larger the cluster you are striving to rank in, the more challenging it can be. It can take a combination of time, patience, dedication and strategic marketing implementation to get your desired results. If you need assistance with your local rankings, let us know. We would be happy to assist, or answer any questions you have about this. To contact us, you can fill out the form below.