What’s the Google Snack Pack? It’s the top, most highly-visible portion of Google local results, a new way of listing three local businesses from the previous 7-pack, meaning seven local businesses listed when a search is made. It includes reviews, maps, photos and directions. It’s what people see right before they call your business (or the other guys). And with only three businesses being shown in the listing, this makes it that much more competitive to go from not making it to making it.
So how do you dominate the pack? How do you hold your position?
There are a pile of individual factors that go into it. This is the summary of some of the most actionable things to do.
Back to the basics
Hopefully, you’ve already covered what we are calling the basics: name, address, phone number, and social media profiles on your website. These basics should all match what is on the websites listed under the signals section. If you’re using dynamic phone numbers on your website for tracking, this can usually be configured (depending on who provides your phone numbers) such that there is a default number that Google will find when they crawl the site. This will make it so even though you’re using dynamic, they still “match.”
Are there relevant terms within the title of your business?
Let’s start with an example of a common mistake. Looking at a client site that does windows and siding, their Google listing only lists siding. Anybody who happens to find them in the snack pack or anywhere on Google local that happens to be looking for windows will probably not go there because they simply don’t look like they do windows! So the most relevant search terms of your business need to be included in your title!
Are you fundamentally in the right category?
Often overlooked, every Google My Business listing is assigned to a category. Granted, the categories provided by Google are not always an ideal fit but they’re also not terrible and some businesses are fundamentally in the wrong one. Looking at solar installers, some businesses that focus on installation are listed under equipment providers and vice versa. Take the time to browse the categories that Google provides and take advantage of the boost the right category can give your business.
Location and service area
Fundamentally, you can set up your listing to indicate a “you come to me” or a “we come to you” configuration. If you service customers at their homes then you need to set your service area. It is a very common mistake to to do this incorrectly. Aside from having people occasionally show up at your non-customer-oriented location, this will reduce your visibility for anyone who isn’t very close to your office.
In order to set your service area, the best thing you can do is have a list of zip codes you service. In your Google My Business account, add all of the zip codes to the section that has your address. Adding these zip codes will give you a service area outline when people search for you on Google.
Your location listing should be configured like this:
Then add zip codes where it says “Region, city or postal code”.
Once this is done, your Google listing will have a marked service area that looks like this:
TIP: Remember to make it realistic. Make the service area where you actually go not where you would like to go. An overly ambitious service area is less likely to be respected.
While this may be called local links by some, it’s really more appropriate nowadays to call it signals, because it is not just the link itself but the presence of your name, address, and phone number on lots of sites that have a geographic orientation. In other words if you’re in Tulsa, some mention of your company on another site that has to do with Tulsa is helpful, but a mention of your business in Oklahoma City is not.
Here are the ones that you should probably have worked out already:
There are also a number of services that aggregate listings for you. Our favorite is Moz Local. It’s our favorite in terms of bang for the buck; it is not the end-all, be-all, and you should not necessarily consider yourself “done” just because this has been done.
Content is more important than you think
Is your business good at what you do? How would somebody who doesn’t know this, find this out? You have to show it. If you’ve been around for 20 years and have an outstanding reputation that drives all the business you have, then you might not need to worry about the extra fluff. But if you’re starting out or trying to compete in a difficult market, content will probably help you. For many business owners, content is a daunting and difficult thing. There are ways to get around this quite effectively without becoming a writer. Some of the most effective ways to develop content include looking into your analytics, talking to your team, and thinking of the questions your customers and prospective customers ask you, and then answering them in the form of blog posts and site pages.
Another shortcut is to set up interviews with somebody outside your business, like us, who can facilitate a conversation and basically record your answers as content and parse it into blog posts that look and read great.
Sins of the past
If you have ever done internet marketing that would not pass “white glove” scrutiny (and to be fair, this often happens without the knowledge of a business owner!), you might have some bad links out there. What is a bad link? It is a link to your site that comes from an irrelevant or poor site. If you’ve ever had marketing done by a discount company or one that was using inappropriate methods (that used to work…), you should at least check for this. If there is bad stuff out there, it is possible to absolve yourself and delete these links. If you think you might have the situation, contact us and we will tell you how to do it yourself or will check for you.
Reviews can change the game
#1. You need to have some.
Having no reviews makes it look like you just showed up, or at least this would be the assumption of a shopper who finds your site or Google profile that is empty of customer feedback. There are lots of different ways to request reviews and ratings. In person, over the phone, email, and postcards. No matter how you get them, you need to make this a priority. Ask us for advice, we’ve done it all.
Respond to the ones you have. All of them.
Got a great review? Say thanks! Got a poor review? Make it right with the customer, preferably off-line, and then ask them if they would please update their comments – once you make it right.
Engagement shows current and potential customers that you care and are available to them, should they ever need help or service in the future.
Have them if you can. Please note – ratings and reviews are definitely not the same thing, although the uninitiated may refer to them interchangeably. Here’s a review:
This is a review: “Frank showed up promptly on time, gave us a fair estimate quickly and had the work done by 2 PM the same day. Great service!”– Susie Jones, Tulsa July 2017
This is a rating:
Ratings (or stars) can show up not only on your website but also in search results. This can be HUGE for getting your listing (or ad) clicked over someone else’s. Do a Google search now for your line of business in your area… Do you see some listings with stars and others without? Which one would you click?
So how do you get a rating? It’s a little more complicated than just asking. And, “getting a rating” really needs to be asked as “how do I get and set up ratings that will show up in search results?” Many, many businesses have reviews on their website and say “I have reviews and ratings,” which just isn’t true. To have ratings that show up in search results is a little more sophisticated than that. It also is different between Google and Bing, paid search and organic. Ask us about your situation and we’ll explain further.
There are many businesses that don’t seem like a good fit for social media, at least, to the people who run the business. However, from another perspective, people who want to hire a company like yours may check out a social profile regardless to get a feel for who you are. Also, Google considers social signals a way of seeing if the lights are on. So even if you don’t consider your business appropriate for social media, it’s appropriate to signal to Google that the lights are indeed on, and knowing that social media is one of the ways that Google checks to see if you are active means you need to be on it in some form. There are shortcuts to this and ways to “be” in multiple places without redundant effort.
Hootsuite is a social media tool that can allow you to post updates to multiple places at once. You can also just set a calendar reminder and post all things once in a while that you’ve pre-written. If your marketing team supports multiple companies (in different locations) that do what you do, you can often use some of the same core content in multiple places. This is not the same as using the same blog post on multiple sites. Done correctly it’s just a massive resource saver.
Nothing attracts a crowd…like a crowd: User Behavior.
In the Google snack pack, and in other places online, one of the signals that Google uses to determine how prominent your listing should be is the way people interact with your listings. It may seem a bit unfair that the best listings get the best placement. Google is in the business of making connections though, not giving a fair shake to everyone out there. If a certain listing meaning, people who click on it don’t come back and then look for something else to click on instead, and it looks a whole lot like it’s working and Google will keep doing it. If people click your listing and then come back and click your competitors listing (and then no more) it will look like there’s is satisfying people better. If you are Google, which one would you show more prominently?
Do a good job
It may go without saying and it may be redundant, but simply executing content, graphics, messaging well versus at a mediocre level, makes a huge difference. If people get to your listing and are under impressed, can you blame them for not calling? Good content, good design, direct and clear actions to solve the customer’s problem, not yours… Those make a good website work.
Gravity Internet Marketing is a full-service marketing agency. One of the things that a good agency can do that a business owner can’t do is take all the items above and formulate an efficient and effective strategy based on where you are currently. Give us a call. Show us what you got. We will tell you what to do next, whether you do it with us or do it yourself.