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Ultimate GMB Ranking Guide: Rank Higher with Google My Business SEO

August 6, 2022

To increase business you need a strong local search strategy. A big piece of that strategy will be ranking your Google My Business listing, ideally in the Google Maps 3 Pack.

93% of Google searches show the map 3 pack as the top result and 1 out of every 3 mobile searches is location relevant. There is no ignoring the Google My Business if you want your business to succeed. You must learn how to increase online visibility and optimize your GMB listing.

With our Google My Business (GMB) ranking guide you’ll learn how to rank higher on Google Map’s 3-pack in no time. This comprehensive guide will be your go-to resource for ranking your business listings. After all, we’re Google My Business experts!

Get ready to increase phone calls, search prominence, online visibility, and ultimately sales by following our proven process laid out in this guide:

Dominate Your Competitors with Our Google My Business SEO Guide

The knowledge bomb of local GMB SEO in this post comes from Local Brand Advisor’s experience managing 3800+ GMB listings. We know this stuff like the back of our hand.

Local Brand Advisor ranks clients for high value keywords in competitive markets using the GMB SEO strategies outlined in this guide. We’ve put this process to use 1000s of times to rank our own clients’ higher on Google’s map 3-pack. You can do it too!

While local SEO & Google My Business Optimization may seem time consuming, you will see the best return on investment and conversions. We have seen businesses spend a fortune on social media management, email marketing, and/or yellow page ads to generate some ROI. But, these efforts don’t provide the big marketing push you’re looking for. Just check out the graph below…

The Importance of Local SEO to Businesses

If you want to dominate your competitors, local search & Google maps SEO are essential. From a marketing standpoint, GMB listings are a basic necessity for any local business, especially considering the rising popularity of local searches.

It becomes even more important to study local SEO because the algorithms governing it are far more complex than Google’s search algorithms. Now, let’s get into the need-to-know info...

Noteworthy Google My Business Updates

Considering that 4 out of 5 local searches result in an offline purchase, you need to understand how to rank high in these local searches. The best way to quickly grasp GMB SEO is to walk through the algorithm update timelines.

Here are some must-mention Google My Business updates that you need to know before we dive into the actionable GMB ranking tips.

March 2020 COVID Update:

Due to the COVID pandemic, Google introduced many changes to the GMB listings. For example, the shutdowns led to the ability to mark listings as ‘temporarily closed’.  New attributes for listings were introduced, for example, the ability to pause leaving reviews, and asking questions on the listings.

February 2020 GMB Update:

Google initiated mass listing suspensions based on an AI (artificial intelligence) scoring the spammy-ness of the GMB listings with this update. It also led to mass reviewing of photos and videos uploaded to GMB listings, which now need to be ToS compliant.

November 2019 Bedlam GMB Update:

This is one of the biggest local SEO updates since Possum. It influenced both the relevancy and proximity factors of the listings. It then led to filtering for some listings, including keywords or location in their name. This update placed importance on ranking listings for searches in the same cities as their verified address. For example, “Dallas roofing company” will rank listings in Dallas, not surrounding areas.

March 2019 Update:

Google closed the classic dashboard in this update. Now you can no longer move map pins inside SAB (Service area business) listings’ dash to more favorable locations.

October 2018 Update:

Google removed addresses from SAB listings in this update. This update has changed the ranking dynamics of SAB listings on maps. It then continued to evolve in the later updates.

August 2017 Update:

Google’s Hawk update began to roll-back some of the effects of 2016’s Possum update’s harsh nature of proximity filtering. This GMB update is seen as retraction of previous updates with unintended consequences.

July 2017 Update:

In this update Google launched GMB and event posts. The GMB posts now expire after a week, and event posts expire after a set event. These GMB posts help your GMB listing stand out from other listings in the local maps results and also give additional context to Google.

June 2017 Update:

GMB connected website builder to the platform and made available in this update. You could now build a website using this feature, which will connect to your GMB listing. This website builder auto-populates basic info from your GMB listings and streamlines some processes.

September 2016 Google Possum Update:

This update led to the filtering of the GMB listings based on the physical address and owner affiliation. The rule of thumb here is if the listing is present within 200 feet of other listings and competing for the same keywords, then the algorithm starts filtering the weaker listing.

July 2014 Pigeon Update:

This update gave more importance to search signals for local search. Your local business website’s authority, relevancy, and search friendliness became an even more significant factor after this update.

Now that you better understand the local search algorithm and how it ranks GMB listings, lets get into actionable tips you can apply to your own listings…

4 Key Factors for GMB Optimization: How to Rank Higher on Google Map 3-Pack

Google updates continue to put increased importance on local search. Now is the time to overhaul your local SEO strategy and create a battle-tested GMB listing that will crush your competition.

Our step by step guide will walk you through actionable tips for you to rank your GMB listings in the local SERPs and stay above competitors. There are 4-key factors for ranking your business locally:

  1. Set Up Local SEO Foundation
  2. Google My Business Optimization
  3. Build Your Brand Prominence & Online Presence
  4. Create Local Relevancy

After applying these GMB tips to your listing and website, your business’s local rankings will look something like this…


Who Can Benefit from GMB SEO?

If you own a local business, GMB SEO will help you attract more customers and increase online visibility in searches. Whether you own a single store, multiple locations, or a regional franchise, Google My Business optimization will benefit your business.

This guide was written with local business owners in mind.

Local Brand Advisor wanted to provide a GMB SEO resource for you to understand how to rank higher in Google Maps 3 Pack and increase local visibility online. Our actionable steps are easy-to-follow so you can see the biggest return on your local SEO efforts.

We wrote this guide, keeping in mind all the white hat tactics possible to get local rankings. These are best practices to follow whenever working to optimize local listings.

Be aware, there are “black hat” SEO tactics that may bring quick wins, but will wreak havoc down the line. Google’s algorithm can spot these and eventually catches everyone. You may get away with it for a while, but eventually everyone gets caught. This can set you back time and cost a lot to fix.

This is why LBA created our Complete Google My Business Ranking Guide using holistic strategies that will quickly, yet safely boost your local rankings.

How to Set up Local SEO Foundation

You need a solid foundation to succeed. There is nothing more helpful to ranking for money keywords than an optimized GMB listing. It’s truly the heart of your local search presence.

Build a strong foundation that will benefit your rankings for years to come with these steps to set up your local SEO campaign correctly.

  1. Keyword research, tracking, and on-time reporting
  2. Research top competitors
  3. Creating a local link building plan
  4. GMB category research

If you don’t want to set up your local SEO campaign, let us help! Local Brand Advisor has experience with thousands of GMB listings, so we know what you need to succeed online.

1. Keyword Research, Tracking, and On-Time Reporting

Researching keywords is the first step to setting up local search campaigns. You must research which phrases and keywords people search online to find businesses like yours. Keep in mind, that keywords can have multiple search intents.

For example, if someone searches “ski googles” they could be searching for a list of the top 10 ski google brands, information on specific ski googles, or websites selling ski googles. Always check the search results that appear for keywords you’re targeting. If the search results don’t match your content or website, you’re facing an uphill battle.

Keyword Tools & Ideas

There are free keyword tools like Wordstream that will provide search volume and competition for Google and Bing. Another free option is if you use Google Chrome, you can install the Keyword Surfer extension to show you keyword ideas and search volumes right on Google’s search results page. This extension can make it easier if you don’t have as much experience with keyword research.

Keyword Surfer Free Keyword Research Tool

You can also find local keyword ideas on the search results page. Google’s “People Also Ask” and “Related Searches” sections can provide great ideas.

We recommend starting with your city and main service or product as your target keyword phrase. For example, a roofer in Houston, Texas would target the terms, “Houston roofer, Houston roofing company, & Houston roof repair”.

Paid keyword tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs offer more detailed keyword research. These paid platforms provide search volume and competition, as well as keyword suggestions based on related terms. If you don’t know where to start with keywords these platforms can do a lot of the work for you.


Keyword Tracking

Making data-driven decisions leads to more focused SEO and audience targeting, so keyword tracking is a must.

How can you measure the effectiveness of different keywords and strategies if you don’t track? You need to measure your keyword KPIs (key performance indicators) to know what is working and what needs tweaking. Keep in mind, KPIs will differ based on your goals and type of business or franchise you run.

However you don’t need to track every single keyword…

At Local Brand Advisor, we track 5 main keywords and 20 more local variations of those keywords that show a map pack in the results. This gives us an overall idea of how keywords are performing and if we need to make any changes.

Phone call tracking is another type of tracking you can set up to better monitor calls from business listings – both leads and spam.


Reporting Tools

There are 3 major reporting points you want to monitor:

  1. Local Keyword Rankings
  2. Google My Business Insights
  3. Calls made through GMB listings

We recommend one tool that will monitor local keyword rankings, GMB insights, phone calls, and local visibility reports – Local Viking. This tool make GMB listing management easy no matter how much SEO knowledge you have. You can also set up automatic email reporting so you don’t have to spend time pulling reports.

Local Viking Rank Tracking will monitor local keyword performance for your GMB listing in Google Maps & organic searches, as well as the website associated with your GMB listing. You can also see historical keyword rankings and comparisons from different devices. This tool makes it easy to track and report all relevant local search data!

Local Viking Ranking Features

The tool will also provide Geogrids that show local visibility and more broken down rankings based on where the searcher is located. With this, you can easily visualize how your GMB listings are performing and which areas you need to work on further. Here is a screenshot of Geogrid reports.

Integrating directly with your Google My Business Insights dashboard is another perk of Local Viking. This allows you to easily see GMB Insights like phone calls, driving directions, and website clicks. These are important metrics to track and report for any business.

You can compare phone calls and other metrics month-over-month and year-over-year with Local Viking, something GMB Insights doesn’t provide. This comparison makes it easy to see progress and gauge how you’re efforts are impacting overall business.

Whether you decide to use Local Viking or not, you must have some sort of tracking and reporting in place for important GMB metrics. Otherwise, you’re just shooting in the dark, making guesses at what you think will work. Don’t guess with your marketing budget. Make data-driven decisions that will save you time and money.

2. Research Top Competitors

There are two beneficial insights you can glean from competitors  – what’s working and what isn’t. Through competitor research you can find trends that work,  strategies to stay away from, and gaps you need to address or add. It’s always interesting to study what competitors are doing and start to reverse engineer what’s working for them.

When evaluating, we recommend auditing your competitor’s:

  1. Main target keywords
  2. Website SEO and SEO elements
  3. Prominent brand mentions online
  4. Competitor GMB Listings

What keywords are they targeting? What is the structure of their website? What content do they use to promote their website and GMB listing? These are all questions to ask yourself when conducting competitor research.

When looking at your competitor’s GMB listings, don’t just analyze one competitor. Get a holistic look at the top ranking competitors to notice any trends among top listings. Each industry and market will have varying characteristics.

Competitor Target Keywords

Look at competitor websites and GMB listings when looking at what keywords your competitors are targeting. While you won’t get a detailed report of exact keywords they target, you can get an idea from a few different areas.

  1. Look at their website: What keywords are common? Are there specific areas mentioned often? These are probably keywords or service areas your competitor is targeting
  2. Google Adwords Keyword Planner: This free tool allows you to look at what keywords your competitors are targeting with ads. You can also use this for general keyword trend research to see what’s hot in your industry and market currently.
  3. Paid tools: With tools like Ahrefs & SEMRush you can run competitor reports that will provide more details about keywords your competitors are targeting, ads they’re running, and how you both stack up in keyword rankings.
  4. GMB Listings: By looking at things like categories, service areas, and address you can make an educated guess at what your competitors are targeting. For example, a dry cleaners in Cleveland, Ohio is probably targeting “Cleveland dry cleaners”.


Website SEO of Competitors

When evaluating competitors’ websites, there is tons of information to analyze.

  1. Content: What type of content do they promote on their site? What content ranks highest?
  2. Structure: How do they structure their website? What do they include in the site navigation? How do they link between content?
  3. On-Page SEO: You can use tools like SEO Minion to look at how competitors use their headings and meta data. You can also see how many links are on a page. If top-ranking competitors are using similar heading structures, you want to mimic this in your website content and service pages.


Competitor Brand Mentions

To research where competitors are getting links and online mentions, you will need a paid SEO tool. With SEMRush or Ahrefs you can run competitor backlink reports that will give you a list of what linked brand mentions you competitors have. It will also break down the authority of each link or brand mention, when it was first discovered, and the type of link it is.

If many competitors all have the same backlink or brand mention, chances are having that mention will help you rank.


Competitor GMB Listings

Here some ideas of Google My Business features to look at:

  1. Categories: What GMB categories are the top competitor listings using? How many categories do they use? Does your listing utilize similar categories?
  2. Photos: What kinds of photos do they post? How many photos do top competitors have?
  3. Reviews: How many reviews do top competitors have? Is your review count in line with top competitors? Are they responding to all reviews? If all top competitors have significantly more reviews, you need to work on getting more.
  4. GMB Posts: How often do competitors post? What types of content do they post on GMB listings?

After reviewing your competitors’ listings, do you notice any gaps in your GMB listing that you need to add? Get on it!

While you can manually audit GMB listings of competitors, Local Brand Advisor runs top competitors through a manual citation audit. This is a great way to understand where your competitors stand in the grand scheme of SEO in your market.

3. Google My Business Category Research

Choosing your GMB categories is the most crucial step in the GMB optimization process.

If your business is listed in the wrong category then it can harm your online presence and cause you to not show up in relevant searches.

Google wants you to accurately describe your business with the help of relevant categories. But stick to using only the most relevant categories. Don’t try and use a lot of them if they’re far removed from the main idea of your business.

We recommend adding up-to 5 relevant categories. And, they should be relevant to your business, website content, and online signals.

Your primary category should be an exact match of what your business does. Then, utilize additional categories to touch on subcategories of your business.

If you don’t know what category you should use, do a little competitive research. See what categories your top competitors are using. Then, evaluate if these make sense for your business based on service areas.’

Building links is one of the best strategies to get to the top (& stay there). You need a local link plan to organize types of links, anchor text, and content to attract links.

Here is a screenshot of the link and anchor text plans we create for a client’s local SEO campaign:

You want to ensure your building a variety of link types in your local SEO efforts. These include blog links, map embeds, tiered links, GMB links, brand mentions, and more.

Keep in mind not all your links need to go back to the location page on the website. You should spread the links in a healthy manner. Target links should include your location page, GMB website, social links, and citation accounts.

We also recommend tracking the anchor text types to ensure a variety of these as well. Using one type of anchor text too heavily could signal an unnatural link profile, which will negatively impact rankings.

5. Be Ready for Constant Changes

Local SEO is almost always changing. Be ready.

Considering Google’s algorithm changes often, your local SEO needs to be changed often as well. You will need to test different tactics before you can expect to see your listing ranking, especially if you’re going into it with little knowledge of existing SEO.

At Local Brand Advisor, we have quite a few demo listings to test out new strategies and tactics after algorithm changes. This allows us to test new ideas without impacting a business’s actual listing. To cut down on the work, just follow Local Brand Advisor to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices. 

Google My Business Optimization

Once you have a solid foundation of research and planning, you must work on Google My Business optimization by conducting a local SEO audit. If you don’t already have a GMB listing, you will need to claim your listing and verify.

Ensure all fields and information of your GMB listing are completed and consistent with your website, social media channels, and other citations. It may seem overly repetitive with our focus on “consistency”, but it truly is a cornerstone of GMB SEO.

Below are the main points to optimize your listings and common GMB Optimization issues to look for:

Ensure No Duplicate Listings

Duplicate GMB listings are the first thing you want to check. This can drag down your local search performance and hinder you from ranking.

If you’ve worked with agencies in the past or had multiple marketing people working with your business, multiple listings could be out there. Make sure you’re optimizing the correct listing.

Search your business name in the Google Map to find any duplicate listings. If you do come across duplicate listings of your business, contact GMB support. Their team can merge the listings so you don’t have to.

When searching for duplicate listings, you may also find any businesses with the same or very similar names.

Correct Business Name

Now, time to optimize the listing. Look at your Business’s Name in the GMB listing. Is it consistent with your name across other channels? According to Google, your business name, “should reflect the business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website stationery, and as known to customers”. 

Don’t try to optimize your business name. Keyword stuffing with locations and services can be common, but you will eventually be penalized. You may not be caught right away, but the short-term gains are not worth the long-term problems it will create. Adding keywords will also create inconsistency across your NAP signals, which can confuse search engines.

If you need to update your business name, you can easily update in the GMB dashboard.

Business Address

Double check that your address is correct. If not, you can easily update in the dashboard. If you’re creating a new business listing, remember that GMB does not allow PO boxes for addresses. You will need a physical address to verify your listing. If you don’t have a physical address you can use a virtual office. However, we only recommend this if it is your only option.

If your business is a SAB (service area business), meaning you don’t have a storefront but service specific areas, your address will be a little different. Examples of SABs include plumbers, roofers, and construction companies.

You want to hide your business address and choose service areas you cover. We recommend not going to broad with your service areas. Instead, focusing on your ideal clients and the areas they live. Keep in mind, all service areas you select will combine to create your radius of influence, which are the areas you will most likely rank. See below for a screenshot of one business’s service areas.

service-area-representation for Google My Business Optimization

You should also verify the listing address is located in the target city. Tools like USPS or Melissa Data allow you to quickly run address verifications and check for address code errors.

We also recommend searching the address online to make sure any other business does not use it. There could be old GMB listings still using your address. If you do find a duplicate address, report to GMB to avoid filtering or other ranking issues.

Check for Hybrid/Service Area Radius Overlapping

If your are a Service Area Business (roofer, plumber, etc.) and have multiple SAB listings or hybrid listings, make sure you use hybrid/service area radius to check the overlapping of listings. You don’t want to have multiple GMB listings competing in the same service areas as it can cause filtering (listing not showing up).

For all your listings to show up, you must not have any areas overlapping.

Business Phone Number

Check the phone number in google search to know if any other business is using the same number. You always want the name, address, and phone to be consistent across your listing, website, and other channels.

If you are using a tracking phone, then do not forget to add the main local number as a secondary phone.

Check GMB Categories

Ensure you’re using the correct categories and there aren’t too many being used. We have seen businesses lose their knowledge panel placement once they reach 5 categories in the GMB listing, so you never want to use more than 5.

Set your primary category to match your highest ranking competitors. You can use 2-4 supporting categories if you offer additional services, but supporting categories are not required. Only use them if they make sense for your business.

If you don’t know what categories to use, just Google your target keyword and check out the listings that rank highest. Do they all have the same primary category? What supporting categories do they use? Always keep in mind, do not exceed 5 categories with your GMB listings.

Verify Consistent GMB Hours, Services, Descriptions

Next, verify all other business info, including hours of operation, services, business description, special dates & hours, products, opening date, and all other relevant business data. You want these to be consistent with your website, social media, and other prominent listings like Yelp.

We’ve found that consistent hours and other info supports top listing placement. Never leave any of this information blank.

Consistency is important for ranking, as well as customer experience. Your customers need to know when you’re open! It’s not a good experience if you hours are listed incorrectly online, then a customer shows up when you’re actually closed…

There are different best practices depending on how many listings you have. If you only have one location and corresponding GMB listing, link your homepage to the GMB listing.

If you have multiple GMB listings for different business locations, link each GMB listing to the corresponding location page. For example, if you have a location page for roofing in Katy, TX (a suburb of Houston) you want to link this Katy GMB listing to your Katy location page on your website.

GMB Photos with Keywords

Your listing must have enough photos to rank. We recommend at least 20 photos for each listing your business has. However, don’t overload a specific type of photo. You want a variety of interior photos, exterior photos, by customer, by owner, at work, and other types. You can find all photo types across the top of photo tab.

GMB Photo Types

Your GMB photos must be:

  1. Quality photos (your phone will do, but make sure they’re clear)
  2. Keyword Optimized: include your keyword variations in photo names
  3. Varied Photo Types

You can also upload videos and 360 pictures. You might already have one 360 photo from Google Earth, but you can always add more. We highly recommend adding video once you’ve fully optimized your GMB listing. Video can add more rich content to your listing.

Interact with Customers (GMB Q and A’s and Reviews)

There are multiple ways customers can interact with your GMB listing. You should always try to use keywords when interacting with customers.

Reviews impact rankings and provide social proof, so you want to make sure you’re responding to them all. Use keywords when responding to reviews and always make sure to respond to negative reviews as quickly as possible.

If you need more reviews, you can share the review form on your website, social media, or email lists. Just click the “share review form” button on the home of your GMB dashboard.

Share Review Form in GMB

GMB also provides pre-populated Questions and Answers. Make sure you answer all questions with top keywords and local modifiers to further optimize your GMB listing.

You will also respond to any messages you receive through the GMB app.

Google My Business Posts

If you don’t already have GMB posts, create some now. Local Brand Advisor recommends creating at least 10 GMB posts per month per listing. Even though they expire after a week, they promote engagement on your GMB listing, provide additional context to search engines, and effectively target long tail keywords.

Every Google My Business post should:

  1. Feature a Photo
  2. Utilize the Button for Linking
  3. Include Keywords
  4. Interlink with other GMB posts – link new post to last post and so on.
  5. Include NAP info

You can utilize post scheduling to bulk create GMB posts then schedule them to go out at different times throughout the month. This way, you can schedule and forget! We recommend Local Viking for GMB post scheduling, because there is scheduling of GMB posts and photo uploads, as well as GMB insights and local visibility reports, review management, listing management, and many other helpful features.

Utilize the GMB Website Builder

Within the Google My Business dashboard you can create a website page, which is something we highly recommend. Here are some tips when creating your website with GMB dashboard.

  1. Use your main keyword in the heading
  2. Use 450-650 words in your website article
  3. Sprinkle in other supporting keywords and synonyms
  4. Link to your location page using keyword optimized anchor text. (“Houston roofing company”)
  5. Add a section for “Read our Reviews”
  6. Include links to social channels and high-authority citations. (“Follow us online”)

You can access the website builder by clicking the “Website” tab on the left hand side of the dashboard. Once you’ve created your website page, do NOT click “publish” in top right corner.

Click on the pencil icon next the site URL, then UNCHECK the box to make this webpage your website address on Google search and Google Maps. You do NOT want this website to be the main website attached to your GMB listing.

Google My Business Website Builder Screenshot


Listing Not Showing Up? May Be Filtered

A local filter has been used since the 2016 Possum update to condense the “Local Finder” results and minimize duplicate and redundant listings. There are multiple reasons your listing could be excluded from the local finder (filtered).

  1. Address Proximity: If your business is using an address in close proximity to other businesses like yours, this can cause filtering. For example, if an office building houses many attorneys, chances are some listings will be filtered.
  2. Multiple Locations with Same Name: If you have multiple business locations using the same name and URL, this can also cause filtering. Google will show the listing with the strongest relevance and online presence. Your listing could also be filtered if multiple listings have overlapping service areas.

To check if listings are being filtered, you will need to open Google Maps to your business address. Zoom away from your address a little to search in the surrounding areas. Type in your primary category and city to search broadly in maps around your business address.

If you see your listing you are not filtered. You probably just need to work on GMB optimization a little more. If you slowly zoom in on your address and cannot find your listing, your listing is most likely filtered.

You will need to address the GMB factors mentioned above that can cause filtering.

Audit Your GMB Listing’s Local SEO Performance

Once you’ve addressed all issues and fully optimized your GMB listing, be sure to regularly audit your local SEO performance.

Auditing your listings is the best way to gauge performance, as well as find issues that could be hindering you rankings. Take a look at your GMB insights area to see how searchers find your business, how many website visits you’re getting, and how you stack up against competitors for things like photo count.

We discover 30% of clients have foundational local SEO issues, so issues are more common than you might expect. You can read more about SEO mistakes that could be hurting your rankings in this dedicated post.

Build Your Brand Prominence & Online Presence

You can’t just create a well-researched GMB listing. You must build your brand’s online presence and prominence in order to dominate the rankings.

Brand prominence is one of the biggest influences of your ranking in local searches. That’s why it’s the 3rd key factor in our Google My Business ranking guide.

What is brand prominence? 

Brand prominence is a local ranking factor that measures how well a business is known online to gauge a brand’s trustworthy and authoritativeness. It is based on business information and brand mentions from secondary sources, like articles, guest posts, directories, and other outside links. To build brand prominence you need to increase your online presence across many platforms.

You can think of brand prominence like online brand awareness.

The more quality links and brand mentions your business has online, the higher your brand prominence will be. Therefore, you want to get mentions on excellent brand properties.  Here’s how we recommend building brand prominence.

How to Build Brand Prominence:

Using these strategies will not only help you to create additional properties, promote the existing properties, establish a strong brand, and increase your online presence. Here are some tips that you can use to increase your brand prominence:

  1. Create and optimize social media accounts
  2. Distribute press releases for authority nap mentions
  3. Create top business citations with GPS listings
  4. Leverage niche citations

Create and Optimize Social Media Accounts

Your social profile matters to google. Therefore, your social profiles should be a foundational piece of your business.

Whether you are optimizing for local or organic SERPs, they are legitimate brand mentions and can boost your website traffic online. Plus, you can also add NAP (name, address, phone) details, links to other social accounts, optimized keyword descriptions, and categories.

When optimizing social media accounts, you must ensure:

  1. All business information is consistent across all social channels
  2. Descriptions are keyword optimized
  3. Links are included in all channels that allow it
  4. Add categories if available
  5. Link social media accounts when possible

We recommend creating as many accounts as possible. Here are some social media platforms where you can create accounts:

  • –
  • – Blogger
  • – Facebook
  • – Facebook Business Page
  • – FollowUs
  • – Instagram
  • – LinkIn Profile & LinkedIn Company Page
  • – Pinterest
  • – Twitter
  • – Tumblr
  • – Youtube
  • – Yelp
  • – Crunchbase

Distribute Press Releases

Press releases are the news releases distributed to the news outlets and other online sources. They can announce a new product, service, partnership, program or other newsworthy event at your business. They are impactful to local SEO for multiple reasons.

First, you can get many links and brand mentions from a single press release. Using press release syndication you can blast out your press release to hundreds or thousands of outlets at one time.

Press releases are also counted as unstructured citations, meaning they are not recognized by Google as local directories. This makes press releases a more impactful brand mention than local directory listings. They can help you create strong brand prominence and boost your local rankings.

If you don’t know how to distribute press releases, Local Brand Advisor offers this in our local optimization packages!

Create Top Business Citations With GPS Listings

High authority citations with GPA listings can improve your online presence quicker than traditional citations. These high-quality citations build your website’s trust, which improves your rankings. High authority citations also drive website traffic and foot traffic as the citations include GPS directions to your business.

These valuable citation listings are from authoritative sites that are well-known and feature GPS info. Some examples of top business citations with GPS include:

To build these citations, you can either subscribe to citation building services or build them manually. We recommend building citations manually (it’s what we do with our clients). Here’s why…

Manual Citations

Building manual citations is good for a number of reasons.

  • – Requires no yearly fees
  • – Gives you complete control
  • – Avoids loss of listings
  • – Allows complete personalization of your listings.

If you build manual citations, it will help you keep a record of the future changes. You can also track where you’ve already built citations, so you don’t duplicate.

Manual citations also protect against lost listings while saving you money. You can use services like YEXT, which needs an annual subscription. But if you forget to pay the fee or stop using their services it can send your listings back to their initial state.

Lastly, you can have control over which citations are built. This allows you to ensure every citation is high-quality and not on some spammy site a citation service is using to bolster the number of citations built. While citation services can provide a higher quantity of citations, the quality won’t be as high.

Leverage Niche Citations

While brand mentions and NAP business citations play a powerful role in improving your presence online, niche citations are even more powerful. They combine the power of brand mentions and links with niche relevance. The more closely related a citation is to your industry, the more powerful it will be. 

There is significant evidence that using niche-specific platforms increases authority and improves your brand identity as a whole. Every time you use niche citations for your business, you will see a significant increase in local visibility.

Every business type has many industry-specific directories and listing sites where you can create citations. You can use Google to find niche citations for your industry by searching, “niche/industry + directories”.

Here is an example of legal niche citations available:

Creating Local Relevancy

Creating local relevance is the 4th factor vital to improving your rankings in local search. It signals to Google which areas your business is most appropriate search result. “Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for,” according to Google’s guidelines on how to improve your local ranking. 

Considering most local businesses can only service the areas surrounding them, Google must understand which areas your business covers to avoid showing irrelevant results that are too far away from the searcher.

At Local Brand Advisor, we use many methods to signal that a brand is the most relevant option for local searches. Here are some of the tactics you can use to create local relevance for your business listing:

  1. Locally relevant citations & local link building
  2. Location Pages
  3. Use content silos and GMB Posts
  4. Adding driving direction maps to your site
  5. Optimizing web page and GMB listing (covered above)

Locally Relevant Citations, Links, And Forums

Local links and citations are the biggest way to build local relevance.

When we talk about local citations, we mean any listing of your business’s NAP (name, address, phone) on a website or social platform that is specific to your target location. For example, if your business is listed on your city’s local Chamber of Commerce website this is considered a local citation. Local citations are a form of local link building.

Local links are any inbound link (pointing towards your website) that is relevant to the area you serve. For example, having your Miami law firm featured on a South Florida blog about how you’re helping the community is a local link. By building up your link network locally, you signal to Google what areas your business services.

The more local links you build, the higher you will rank.


How to Find Local Citations:

You can manually search for citations using these search modifiers. These are places you want to add your NAP.

  • – City + “add your business”
  • – City + “add your business”
  • – City + “add your business”
  • – City + “add site”


To find other local link opportunities, you search parameters like these. You can manually reach out to the sites to ask for a link or feature.

  • – City + blogs
  • – City + bloggers
  • – City + blog
  • – City + updates
  • – City + inurl:blog
  • – City + intitle:blog


Don’t Feel Like Searching for Links?

Manually searching for link opportunities is time consuming. But there is a shortcut.

The trick is auditing the citations and links of your top local competitors. Then, prioritize building the links that are common amongst the top ranking sites. You most likely will need these to overtake them in the rankings.

You can also use paid SEO tools that will search for link opportunities for you. If you want to learn more, Local Brand Advisor has a dedicated post about local citations to increase local visibility.

Create Location Pages

Location pages are something we do for every Local Brand Advisor client if they haven’t done so already.

You will create a dedicated page on your website for each area your business services. For example, if your cleaning company services the Kansas City metro, you want to have a page for Kansas City, as well as Overland Park, Lee’s Summit, Lenexa, Shawnee, Liberty, Merriam, and any other suburbs you cover.

We recommend adding your location pages to the website navigation to signal the importance of these pages to Google.

In addition to build local relevance to rank your GMB listing, these location pages can rank organically for city-specific searches. These organic rankings will help broaden your potential customer base, while also building brand prominence. It’s a double-dip!

Local Content Silos & GMB Posts

You should publish local content for every area you’re targeting, then link back to the corresponding location page. We recommend creating a local silo for each business area that links back to your location page. For example, if you are a local lawyer who covers a specific county, you could write local content silos surrounding the laws in each specific city within that county.

GMB posts can also feature different areas your business targets. You can use the GMB post button to link back to the individual location page corresponding to the area. We recommend adding a local focus to at least half your GMB posts each month.

Add Driving Directions to Your Website

If you don’t already have a Google Map embed on your website, get one up ASAP. It’s another local signal Google can use. The more you have the better.

Want to Rank on the Google Map 3 Pack?

If you want to rank in Google’s map 3-pack, then you must focus on comprehensive campaigns. You cannot just create and optimize a GMB listing.

We see many people who do a few things in this guide and expect top-ranking results. GMB & local SEO do not work that way…

To achieve great results like above, you must build a solid foundation from keyword and competitor research, then optimize your GMB listing and audit your local search performance. Once you’ve addressed your listing, you must build brand prominence and local relevance to dominate the ranking results.

These local maps ranking factors play a vital role in local SERPs, so no factor can be left out.

Additionally, always have a consistent schedule for whatever you have planned to do and make benchmarks once every 2- 3 months. This will help you track what’s working for your business.

Work with Google My Business Experts

Top Google My Business rankings can take your business to the next level.

If you’d like to cut the learning curve of local SEO and see a quicker return on your investment, Local Brand Advisor can improve your rankings to drive business. We increased one franchises phone calls 357% in 12 months, which allowed them to expand their franchise locations and dominate the Connecticut market.

Leverage our experience to improve your GMB listings! We truly are Google My Business experts.

Whether you have a single shop, multiple locations, or a regional franchise, these GMB SEO strategies will work for you. If you’re a franchise or multi-location business, complete this form for us to audit your local SEO & get you started on the path to success. And to track your website traffic and optimize your local SEO we will also use GA4 (Google Analytics 4), which can provide valuable insights to help you understand your audience and improve your online presence.

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