Dominate The Local Google Listings aka “Snack Pack”

First of all, what is the Google snack pack?

When you type in a local search term such as “Seattle shoes” it’s the first 3 local search results that appear just under the Google map of Seattle.

Google used to display 7 local searches within this pack but, just over a year ago, they cut it down to 3.

There is a link “More places” in the bottom left of the image that you can click on that will bring you to an enlarged Google map with a lot more listings.

When the 7 pack was still around, the top 3 would’ve still been getting more traffic than the rest, just as with Google’s regular top 5 natural search results getting approximately 68% of all clicks. That said, position 4-7 of the 7 pack would’ve still been valuable real estate. You would’ve still been on the first page of Google. Links on the second page of Google get less than 1% of search traffic.

So let’s go over the steps you can take to increase the chances of having your business displayed in the snack pack leading to higher search traffic and revenue.

Optimizing for the 3 pack

Before getting into specifics for optimizing your site specifically to acquire a position in the local snack pack, I want to throw out there that you will still need to preform your general SEO. This includes things like:

  • Quality content. This is what you want to start with. You’ll see a better user experience and more natural social shares and backlinks.
  • On page SEO which, if you use WordPress, you can upload the plugin “Yoast SEO” for help. You want to focus on things like permalinks, title tags, headings, alt tags, meta descriptions, etc. Yoast will walk you through it pretty good.
  • Social sharing. Check out the plugin “Social Pug” to help make your pages and posts simple to share.
  • Backlinks. This is still one of the best ways to boost your rankings. Just remember that Google wants to see quality over quantity. 100 spammy links is worth next to nothing. An effective technique to acquire new quality links is through broken link building. Install a free Chrome extension called “Link miner”. When you come across broken links within your niche, reach out to the user who created the link, let them know of the broken link and ask if they’d be interested in linking to your site instead. And if you’re wondering how to check the quality of the domain, try majestic.com. It will tell you the CF (citation flow) and TF (trust flow) of the domain. I’d say aim for anything over 15, but the higher, the better.

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Once you get most of the on page SEO out of the way and keep up steady effort for the off page   (gaining backlinks and social shares and making regular posts etc.) then you can take it a step further.

There are a lot of things to consider, but if you take the time, you can dominate the snack pack. Most people won’t take the time or even know what they need to do.

Business

  • Make sure your business is listed appropriately with any business directories.
  • If you don’t already have a business name and website, try to include the services you want to rank for within your business name and domain name. (ex: John’s plumbing and HVAC – johnsplumbingandhvac.com)
  • Make sure your business address is correct and consistent amongst all directories.

External location

Create as many listings as possible for your business amongst many different directories and make sure all your information is consistent.

Here are some directories to get started listing your business in for free:

bbb.org

apple maps

citysearch.com

zip local

dexknows.com

Yelp

Facebook

Yellowbot

Yellowbook

Google my business

Yahoo local

Insider pages

zomato

Kudzu

Merchant circle

LinkedIn

Manta

local.com

On Page Signals

  • Focus on the NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) on your website. Make sure it’s visible and consistent.
  • Include You’re Business name, address, phone number and links to social media accounts on all pages of your website.
  • Your title tag is one of the most important elements used for your on page ranking. Make sure every page title is descriptive, relevant and differentiates you from other web pages.

Inbound and Outbound links

You’re going to need a software program for this such as the one I mentioned before, majestic.com. You’ll be able to type in your URL and it will tell you all the backlinks you have pointing to site and will include the CF and TF of each webpage.

You’ll want to make an effort to remove any poor quality links. You’ll need to reach out to the author through email asking if they could please remove the link to your site or at least change it to a “no follow”.

  • Remove irrelevant backlinks
  • Work on acquiring new, quality backlinks. You can do this through broken link building, like I talked about earlier in this article. Also check out Brian Dean’s link building techniques.
  • Link out to high authority domains with relevant content such as wikipedia.org and entrepreneur.com.

link building seo

Business Reviews

Reviews help in more ways than one. First of all, they help as a direct ranking factor in Google. Secondly, aren’t you more likely to click on a link with reviews as opposed to one without? Therefore, sites with reviews generally have a higher CTR (click through rate) which usually leads to higher rankings.

  • Ask customers for reviews on your website. Make it simple for them, with the click of a button.
  • Send your customers thank you emails, ask if they could please leave a review and include a link.
  • There are WordPress plugins to help you with this but I haven’t come across one that I would recommend. If you have one, let me know!

Social Signals

Social signals don’t play as big a role as some of the others but still definitely helps. It’s a good idea to have a social media account for your business with the major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +. Depending on your market, you might want to consider Pinterest, Instagram and even Snapchat.

  • Don’t just set up your accounts and walk away from them. You need to be active on them. Engage with your audience and your potential customers regularly to help gain likes, shares and followers.
  • Be genuine and make your audience smile by sharing positive, feel good content. Don’t think that all content needs to be originally created by you. Aim for around 20% original and 80% shared.
  • It’s not a bad idea to run a paid advertising campaign on Facebook to help boost awareness of your brand. Start with something simple. Choose a post that did well for itself. One that reached a higher number of people than some of the others. Press “boost” in the bottom right corner of the post and fill out the required info.

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User interaction

Google is amazing at tracking things like CTR, bounce rate, average time on site and much more. If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, you’re already aware of this.

  • What is grabbing the user’s attention within your web listing? The closer your title is to their search term and the better you describe how your services will benefit them, the higher your CTR will be.
  • When users land on your website or landing page, does it display what was described in the listing? If not, chances are your viewers are going to press the back button pretty quick, increasing your bounce rate.
  • The more time the average user spends on your site, the more value Google will perceive it to have. Google is all about providing value to it’s users and will reward your site if it can help.
  • Always produce high quality content and Google will boost your rankings in both the local and organic listings.

google analytics event tracking software

Uniqueness

What sets you apart from the competition? How is your website and business unique? Again, take the time to produce high quality content and you’ll already be a step ahead of a lot of businesses.

  • Take a little extra time when writing articles and ad copy.
  • If you don’t know how to set up a website, hire a web designer or at least take some time to learn the basics. If you’re brand new, start with this article on choosing a web host.
  • If you’re looking for stock images, don’t cheap out. They are often priced by size. You can often find great free images in Google images. Just make sure that you go to “search tools” – “usage rights” – “labelled for reuse”. This way you won’t get in trouble. Otherwise there are lots of stock images available for sale on sites such as gettyimages.ca, dreamstime.com, shutterstock.com, fotolia.com and a lot more.

Obviously, getting ranked in the snack pack also depends on the competitiveness of the keywords you want to rank for but follow these tips and you will be well on your way. Having your website show up on the first page in the local results can have a huge positive impact on your business. I can’t stress this enough, having a high quality, relevant website is a must if you want your fist page listing to bring in more business.

I hope this article was helpful!

If you enjoyed, please share it with your friends and colleagues.

Cheers,

Hans

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