Almost every day we get questions that are Google-focused. There’s a reason Google offers certifications if you’re willing to do the work and take the tests, and that reason is because Google is confusing (and is always changing)!
Here’s a little Google 101 to help you mentally sort out the different aspects of your online business listings and search results.
Google Maps is a web mapping service. It can be used to search and see satellite images of locations and street views of locations, as well as for route planning and mobile GPS services. Google Maps also shows business listings for physical locations of businesses. When someone googles your business, Google Maps is what will pull up to show your location.
Google My Business Listing
Google My Business (GMB) was formerly known as Google Local AND Google Places. GMB is an online business listing on Google, much like a business listing on Yelp. The important thing to know here is that it’s a core element of local SEO.
Your GMB is the information about your business that pulls up in the Google knowledge graph card. You can edit your GMB listing, as well as your Google Maps location, through your Google My Business account (check out this blog if you don’t know how to do that). Now, are you wondering what the heck a Google Knowledge Graph card is? Good question!
Google Knowledge Graph & Knowledge Graph Card
Google’s Knowledge Graph was introduced in 2012. It’s a knowledge base/engine that was created to help enhance Google search results by collecting all the information on the topic it can from multiple sources and presenting it to searchers in an information box to the right of the screen. This information box is also known as the Knowledge Graph Card.
When someone googles your business, the Google Knowledge Graph pulls the information from your Google Maps location and the Google My Business listing.
Google Local Pack
Now for the one issue clients are ALWAYS asking about: the Google Local Pack. The Local Pack is a section that lists 3 local businesses related to your search query. Local Packs used to display 7 local businesses, but Google made some changes to the algorithm and cut the local pack back to just 3 listings (sporadically, there’s a paid ad in the 3-Pack, cutting it even further back to just 2 organic local listings).
So the million-dollar question is, how do you get your business to rank on the Google Local Pack? Unfortunately, there's not a black-and-white answer — we can only guess. Google has a magical and very enigmatic algorithm it uses to do, well, pretty much everything. Moz conducted a 2018 Local Search Ranking Factor Survey that dives into the depths of the Google algorithm guessing game by surveying some “brilliant contributors” and listing the average ranking of their answers.
The biggest catch with the Local Pack is that some of the ranking factors are out of your control — like the Proximity of Address to the Point of Search (Searcher-Business Distance) which, according to Moz’s research, is the #1 ranking factor for the Local Pack.
So there you have it — a breakdown of the different aspects of Google as related to your business. Now that you're a little more familiar with Google, you can work to improve the search ranking factors (that you know of) that are in your power to control; and you can always contact adWhite to help you out, too!