Have you ever Googled the product or service you offer to see where your business ranked?
Did your business show up in the Maps 3-pack?
If not, were you envious of your competitors who ranked in those top 3 spots in Maps? I know we’ve all been told that envy is a bad thing, but trust me, if you knew how much business you were losing to the companies that outrank you in Maps you would be jealous. Insanely jealous.
Just how valuable are the top spots in local search results?
It depends on what type of business you’re in obviously, but you can be sure it’s a lot. Let me give you just one example. Altitude Comfort was a brand new HVAC business in Denver, Colorado when they hired us as their SEO company. As we analyzed their competition, it was clear they were up against some big, well-established competitors, several of whom had dominated the home services business in the Denver area for over 20 years.
It was an enormous challenge, but by the end of their first year, Altitude was ranking #1 in Maps for nearly every high value keyword related to their business. Heating and air conditioning is a seasonal business, especially in Denver where companies typically only have about 6 months of high-demand for their services.
Still, Altitude Comfort brought in almost $2 million in revenue during their 2nd year in business. How much of that was due to their online rankings in Maps? Every bit of it. Once the company started ranking at the top of local search results, the owner ceased all other advertising and kept his team at full capacity with the flow of business that came in from online. The Altitude Comfort search engine optimization campaign yielded an ROI of over 1,600% in just the first two years. There aren’t any other marketing channels I’m aware of that can produce that kind of ROI for a new business.
What Makes Local SEO So Powerful For Growing Your Business?
It’s called organic visibility. Local listings dominate the user’s screen on most search engine results pages (SERP’s). As I write this, Google’s Maps 3-pack takes up X% of the screen on a typical 15” laptop.
When your business ranks atop the local search results, you effectively control the prime real estate at the very moment potential customers are searching for the product or service your company offers.
Ranking in the top Maps results also helps your local business overcome another challenge to your online marketing. Google’s favoritism towards big brands. Of course, Google denies that big brands are favored in their search results, but just look at the websites that rank in the top organic spots for any search with local intent. What do you see?
As you can see in the images above, the top spots in organic search results are dominated by review aggregator sites like Yelp in home services, and Avvo in the legal field. Someone searching for a local service business would have to scroll past a number of these aggregator sites before they ever get to a real local business listing. Ranking at the top of Maps, which sits above the organic results, can allow you to capture that potential customer before they ever scroll down to the review aggregator sites.
This begs the question? Why do review aggregator sites rank at the top of organic listings when someone is clearly searching for a local business? It’s all about user experience, and the review-oriented behavior that Google has observed by their users.
Google knows that a large percentage of people tend to visit aggregator sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, or Avvo where they can see the reviews that customers have left for different businesses. It’s common for searchers to prefer to visit these types of sites first to compare different companies ratings and reviews, before visiting the website of an individual business. So one of the reasons these review aggregator sites tend to rank at the top of the organic search results is Google considers it a better user experience.
Since outranking big brands in organic search results is exceedingly difficult (although it can be done), the best way way grab clicks and customers away from them is to rank at the top of the Maps 3-pack in local search results.
Local SEO Can Deliver An Amazing Return-On-Investment
If you are in a highly-competitive business in a major city, then investing in Local SEO can help grow your business exponentially, and produce astronomical returns. Let’s look at SEO for lawyers as an example.
Keywords related to personal injury attorneys are the most expensive clicks on Adwords, Google’s pay-per-click advertising platform. Take a look at the chart below to see just how expensive the clicks are for some of the most competitive lawyer-related keywords. Keep in mind, the cost-per-click (CPC) in this chart is only for the click. The advertiser gets charged any time someone clicks on their Adwords ad regardless of whether or not that person ever contacts the business.
- $425.70 dallas truck accident lawyer
- $411.04 truck accident lawyer houston
- $393.79 louisville car accident lawyer
- $388.84 houston 18 wheeler accident lawyer
- $361.34 baltimore auto accident lawyer
- $358.11 accident lawyer sacramento
- $358.03 car accident lawyer phoenix
- $350.42 car accident lawyers los angeles
- $348.78 phoenix accident lawyer
- $326.76 car accident lawyer in atlanta
As you can see, pay-per-click advertising can get very expensive.
Attorneys whose law firms don’t rank in the Maps 3-pack are forced to rely on pay-per-click advertising to bring in cases from new clients. Most personal injury law firms spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on pay-per-click advertising. The competition for new clients is so intense, that it’s not uncommon to see a law firm spending $20,000 – $50,000 per month on Adwords. Now let’s compare that to a law firm that hires a Local SEO expert to help them rank in the top 3 spots in Google Maps. Depending on which city the firm is in, and what their legal specialty is, they might pay a high-caliber SEO agency anywhere from $5,000 – $20,000 per month. Sound expensive? Not when you consider that a law firm can get many times that amount worth of online traffic and phone calls from prospective new clients.
I’ve seen law firms start getting $25,000 to well over $100,000 worth of organic traffic once they start ranking in the maps 3-pack. So you can see that the dollar value of the online traffic law firms can bring in from local searches dwarfs the amount they might pay to their SEO agency. If you’re $3 or more back for every dollar you invest in SEO, it’s not hard to see why hiring the best SEO company you can find can actually be an incredible bargain. Your business probably isn’t as competitive as the legal field, but the same concept applies. Not only will you get phone calls and organic traffic that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, but the value of those calls and website traffic will greatly exceed the amount you pay a top SEO agency every month. There’s nothing else that matches the kind of ROI that investing in Local SEO for you business can produce. Not even close.
Why Most Internet Marketing Companies Struggle With Local SEO
Even the biggest, most well-known SEO agencies in the country struggle to get their clients ranking in the top spots of local search results. That’s because Local SEO is an entirely different animal from traditional search engine optimization that focuses on organic rankings. The approach required to successfully rank businesses in local search results is counterintuitive to what SEO professionals have relied on for years, and it’s not easy to figure out. I know from personal experience that even high-level traditional SEO experts, struggle to grasp what it takes to dominate the Maps 3-pack.
Local SEO goes against everything they’ve ever known about search engine optimization, and very few agencies want to put in the volume of work that’s required to …… Here’s a good example to demonstrate the point that even the most successful SEO agencies in the country don’t really understand Local SEO. One of the largest internet marketing agencies in the country has an office located in Valencia, CA. Valencia is a pretty small city with a population of only about 65,000 people. It should be a piece of cake for a big SEO company to dominate the Maps 3-pack for such a small market. But take a look at this… one of the biggest SEO agency in the country can’t do any better than ranking #2 in Maps behind a pint-size competitor that has a grand total of ZERO reviews!
What if you were to Google ‘SEO Valencia CA’… this same award-winning internet marketing company doesn’t even rank in the Maps 3-pack at all.
Site Structure Matters In Local SEO
One of the critical factors in Local SEO that traditional search engine optimization experts struggle to understand is the method of structuring a website for Maps 3-pack rankings. I have seen the frustration and confusion this issue creates when traditional organic SEO analysts continue to view optimal site structure through the lens of organic SEO.
Agencies that only understand organic SEO typically structure every website they build or optimize exactly the same way they’ve been doing it for the last15 years. Everything is different when it comes to Local SEO. Everything. Once again, what works for crushing your competitors in local search results is counterintuitive to traditional organic SEO experts.
To achieve top rankings in local search results, your website has to be structured a very specific way according to what type of business you have. We know this because we have several years of testing that proves structuring a website to in a very precise way to optimize for local Maps rankings makes a huge difference.
When you setup your Google My Business listing, you can either list your business as having a physical location (where customers come to you), or as a service area business (SAB). The optimal site structure is different if your business has a physical location vs. an SAB which provides services to customers at their location within a defined service area.
The ideal structure for your website is also very different if your business has one location or multiple locations.
There is an optimal way to structure your website for Maps 3-pack rankings that is unique to each of the following types of businesses:
Page Distribution And Location Stacking Models For Multi-Location Businesses
A couple of the things that you have to take into consideration when deciding how to structure a website to maximize local rankings is the business category, and how well or how poorly the website is ranking currently.
If a website is ranking reasonably well, maybe just out of the top 3 spots in Maps, then you have to proceed with caution when restructuring the site. If a website isn’t ranking on the first page, or in the top 10 spots in Maps, then it’s best to start from scratch and structure the website for long-term success in local search results.
When it comes to a site that’s already ranking reasonably well, but isn’t in the top spots, we will often use what we call the Location Stacking Model to give the site the boost it needs to break into the Maps 3-pack. The Location Stacking Model (LSM) uses all the categories and modifiers related to a business on a single page for each location that is connected to a Google My Business listing.
If a site isn’t ranking well enough to use the Location Stacking Model, it’s best to start from scratch and use what we refer to as the Page Distribution Model (PDM). The Page Distribution Model is incredibly effective for allowing a website to rank well in Maps for the broadest number of searches. It is also the least understood part of the Local SEO process for traditional SEO experts. It literally goes against everything they believe about how a website should be structured. But when combined with a number of other advanced Local SEO strategies, it works. Incredibly well.
To Sum It Up
There’s no question Local SEO offers the best opportunity for growing your business with a return-on-investment that far exceeds any other marketing channels. The value of the organic traffic that Maps visibility can drive to your website every month will dwarf the cost of hiring a true Local SEO expert agency. Not only that, but website traffic isn’t even the primary goal of Maps rankings. It’s actually #3 on the list! So you can imagine how powerful the benefits of the primary and secondary goals of maps rankings must bee.
If you’d like to learn more about local search engine optimization, check out the next article on the 3 Goals Of Local SEO And Maps Rankings.
Ready to take your business to the next level in Google Maps? Feel free to contact us for a complimentary SEO Performance Blueprint Video (valued at $497) by calling (720) 603-5400 or emailing us here!