What Role Does On-page SEO Play In Google My Business Rankings

18 min read
6 Jun 2024
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Abstract map illustration with chat bubbles and location pin.


Is local SEO the same as Google By Business listing? It is a confusing topic for many small business owners who are trying to get on their local map pack search results. Do you need to do on-site SEO? Do links and content have any impact on map pack results?


  1. On-page SEO helps Google understand what your website is about and where it is located, increasing the likelihood of it being chosen for relevant local search queries.
  2. Optimising key on-page elements like meta titles, meta descriptions, header tags, content, and URLs with relevant local keywords helps boost rankings. Including the city and state in the URL is a strong local ranking signal.
  3. Consistent NAP (name, address, phone number) information on your website that matches your GMB listing is crucial for local SEO. Inconsistent information can negatively impact rankings.
  4. Creating localised content, service area pages and location landing pages optimised with local keywords further enhances relevance for local searches.
  5. Acquiring local backlinks from relevant, authoritative websites in your area also boosts your site’s authority and local rankings.
  6. Proper on-page SEO makes it easier for search engines to match your GMB listing to your website, understand your business, and display your listing for relevant local searches.

In this post, we’ll explore On-page SEO and its relationship to GMB and share practical strategies for improving local SEO reach. 

Google search results for wedding venues in Herefordshire.
Map pack within search results for ‘Weddings venues in Herefordshire’.
Map showing wedding venues in Herefordshire with ratings.
Map listings on Google.

Google My Business (GMB) and its importance for local businesses

A strong online presence is essential for local businesses. Google My Business (GMB) is a powerful tool for this purpose.

Google My Business Overview:

  • Free platform from Google
  • Manage business appearance on Google Search and Maps
  • Showcase key information: address, phone number, hours, website, reviews
  • Include photos and posts for promotions

Importance for Local Businesses:

  • Increases visibility in local searches (e.g., “coffee shop near me”)
  • 97% of consumers use online search for local businesses
  • 46% of all Google searches seek local information

Benefits of GMB:

  • Get found by potential customers
  • Improved chances of appearing in local search results and Google Maps

Beyond GMB – On-page SEO:

  • Essential for maximizing local search rankings
  • Key factors: website content, meta information, headings, NAP (Name, Address, Phone number), citations
  • Influences local search performance and conversions

Google My Business is crucial for local visibility, but SEO is equally important for search visibility, trust, and conversions.

Google search results page for wedding venues in Herefordshire.
For our search of ‘Wedding venues in Herefordshire’, it is only on page 2 of organic SERPs do we actually see any websites for the actual wedding venues. The first page of SERPs is dominated by ads, local map pack and wedding websites such as hitched.co.uk.

Do I Need to Do SEO if I Have a GMB Profile?

Many local business owners wonder if they still need to invest in SEO if they have a Google My Business profile.

The short answer is yes!

While having a complete and optimised GMB listing is crucial for local visibility, it is not enough to guarantee high rankings in local search results.

On-page SEO complements your GMB listing to improve visibility

Think of your GMB profile and website as two pieces of a puzzle. On-page SEO complements your GMB listing by providing additional context and signals to Google about your business’s relevance and credibility.

By optimising your website with local keywords, consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information, and location-specific content, you help Google match your site to your GMB listing and understand that your business is a relevant result for local searches.

Consistency between your site and GMB listing builds trust and credibility with Google

Consistency is key when it comes to local SEO. Google looks for consistent information across your website, GMB listing, and other online directories to verify the accuracy and trustworthiness of your business information.

Any discrepancies or conflicting details can hurt your credibility and rankings. By ensuring that your NAP and other business details are consistent across all platforms, you build trust with Google and improve your chances of ranking higher in local search results.

While a well-optimized GMB profile is essential for local businesses, it works best with solid on-page SEO. By optimising both your website and your GMB listing with consistent, relevant information, you send strong signals to Google about your business’s legitimacy and relevance to local searches, ultimately improving your visibility and rankings.

Elegant wedding venue interior, Bredenbury Court Barns, Herefordshire
Couple marrying at scenic Herefordshire barn venue.

How to ensure your NAP information is consistent

Audit your current listings

  • Make a list of all the websites where your business information appears, including your website, Google My Business, social media profiles, online directories, and review sites.
  • Check each listing to see if your NAP information is accurate and consistent.

Standardise your NAP format

  • Choose a standard format for your business name, address, and phone number.
  • Use the same format across all platforms, including abbreviations, suite numbers, and phone number formatting.
  • Example: “Acme Inc., 123 Main St., Suite 4, Anytown, CA 12345, (555) 123-4567”

Update your website

  • Ensure your NAP information is prominently displayed on your website, preferably in the header or footer of every page.
  • Use schema markup to help search engines understand your NAP information.
  • If you have multiple locations, create separate pages for each location with their specific NAP details.

Claim and update your Google My Business listing

  • Verify your GMB listing and ensure your NAP information matches your standardised format.
  • Update your business hours, categories, and descriptions while you’re at it.

Check and update other online directories

  • Claim your business listings on popular online directories like Yelp, Apple Maps, Bing Places, and industry-specific directories.
  • Update your NAP information to match your standardised format.
  • Remove any duplicate listings to avoid confusion.

Monitor your listings regularly

  • Set up Google Alerts for your business name and address to track any new online listings.
  • Regularly check your listings to ensure they remain accurate and consistent over time.

Use a local listing management tool

  • Consider using a paid tool like Yext, Moz Local, or BrightLocal to automate the process of updating and maintaining your local listings across multiple platforms.
  • Get an expert to manage your GMB and NAPs for you.

Why Does My Site Appear in the Local Map Pack but Not Organic Results?

Differences in Algorithms

It’s not uncommon for local businesses to rank well in the Google Maps Local Pack but struggle to achieve high organic rankings. This is because Google uses different algorithms to determine rankings for the Local Pack and organic search results.

Proximity as a Major Factor

For the Local Pack, proximity is a major ranking factor. Google aims to provide the most relevant results based on the user’s location, so businesses that are physically closer to the searcher are more likely to appear in the Local Pack. Other factors like relevance, prominence, and GMB optimisation also play a role, but proximity is a key differentiator.

Complex Organic Search Rankings

On the other hand, organic search rankings are determined by a more complex algorithm that heavily considers factors like website authority, relevance, and quality.

Google evaluates your website’s content, structure, and backlink profile to assess its relevance and trustworthiness for a search query.

While local SEO factors like NAP consistency and local keywords influence organic rankings, they are just a part of a much larger ranking equation.

The Disconnect Between Local Pack and Organic Results

As a result, appearing in the Local Pack does not automatically translate to high organic rankings.

You may be the closest business to the searcher, but if your website lacks the authority and relevance signals that Google looks for, you may struggle to rank well in organic results.

Improving Organic Rankings

To improve your organic rankings, build a strong on-page SEO foundation. This includes optimising your website’s title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and content for relevant keywords and ensuring your site is fast, mobile-friendly, and easy to navigate. 

Building high-quality local backlinks and creating valuable, informative content can also help boost your website’s authority and relevance for local searches.

Interconnected Algorithms

Remember, while different algorithms determine the Local Pack and organic rankings, they are interconnected. By improving your on-page SEO and building a strong online presence, you can positively impact your Local Pack and organic rankings, increasing visibility and traffic for your local business.

The Impact of Links and Content on Local Map Pack Rankings

Regarding ranking in the Google Maps Local Pack, Google considers three key factors: relevance, distance, and prominence. While proximity and GMB optimisation are the primary drivers of Local Pack rankings, the impact of links and content should not be overlooked.

Competitive positioning map showing multiple websites' SEO data.
In the sample search ‘Hereford weeding venues, ’ we saw https://www.brinsopcourt.com/ rank at the top of the map pack. Now it did have the most reviews on GMB, but the website also ranks for the most search terms compared to the local competitors.

Prominence: Off-Page Factors Matter

Prominence refers to how well-known and reputable your business is, both online and offline. Google assesses prominence by looking at various off-page factors, including:

  • Links from other websites
  • Citations in online directories
  • Quantity and quality of online reviews

Building high-quality local backlinks, ensuring consistent citations across reputable directories, and earning positive reviews can all contribute to your business’s prominence and improve your chances of ranking in the Local Pack.

Local Content and Links Can Boost Rankings

Creating local content and building local links are two powerful strategies that can help enhance your prominence and relevance in local searches.

Developing Location-Specific Pages

One effective way to improve your local SEO is by creating location-specific pages on your website. These pages should be dedicated to each of your business locations and optimised with local keywords, content, and information.

Here are some tips for creating effective location-specific pages:

  • Include the city, state, and/or neighbourhood names in the page title, headings, and content
  • Provide detailed information about the specific location, such as address, phone number, hours of operation, and directions
  • Highlight any unique features or services offered at that particular location
  • Include high-quality images of the location, both interior and exterior
  • Incorporate customer reviews and testimonials specific to that location

By developing comprehensive and optimised location-specific pages, you help search engines understand the relevance of your business to local searches and improve your chances of ranking in the Local Pack.

Incorporating Local Keywords

In addition to creating location-specific pages, it’s important to incorporate local keywords throughout your website’s content.

Local keywords include phrases that combine your products or services with your geographic location, such as “best pizza in downtown Seattle” or “top-rated hair salon in South Kensington.”

To effectively incorporate local keywords, consider the following:

  • Conduct keyword research to identify the most relevant and high-traffic local keywords for your business
  • Use local keywords naturally in your page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and body content
  • Avoid keyword stuffing, which can negatively impact your rankings
  • Create blog posts, articles, and other content pieces that focus on local events, news, or issues related to your business and community

By strategically incorporating local keywords into your website’s content, you reinforce your business’s connection to the local community and improve your relevance for local searches.

Building Local Links

Building high-quality local links is another crucial factor in local SEO. Local links are backlinks from websites specific to your geographic location or community.

These links help search engines understand your business’s relevance and authority within the local context.

Some valuable types of local links include:

  1. Local business directories and listings: Ensure your business is listed in reputable local directories such as the Chamber of Commerce, local business associations, and industry-specific directories.
  2. Local news and media outlets: Seek opportunities to be featured in local news stories, press releases, or event coverage. These links from local media sources can greatly boost your local authority.
  3. Local sponsorships and partnerships: Sponsor local events, sports teams, or charitable organisations. These sponsorships often include a link to your website from the organization’s site.
  4. Local influencers and bloggers: Collaborate with local influencers or bloggers in your industry. They can provide valuable backlinks and help spread awareness of your business to their local audience.
  5. Local government and educational sites: Search engines highly value links from local government websites (.gov) and educational institutions (.edu). Look for opportunities to partner with or contribute to these organisations.

Here are a few examples of local link-building in action:

  • A local restaurant sponsors a local youth football team and receives a link from the team’s website.
  • A law firm provides expert advice for a local news story and is mentioned with a link in the online article.
  • A fitness centre partners with a local health blogger to create a series of workout videos with links back to the centre’s website.

Earning high-quality local links demonstrates your business’s involvement and authority within the local community, which can significantly improve your Local Pack rankings.

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Content Strategy for Local SEO

Developing a comprehensive content plan is essential to effectively incorporate local content into your SEO strategy. Here’s an outline of a content strategy for local SEO:

  1. Define your local audience
  2. Conduct local keyword research
    • Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, or SEMrush to identify high-traffic local keywords
    • Analyse your local competitors’ keyword targets and content strategies
  3. Develop a local content calendar
    • Plan a mix of content types, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, and guides
    • Schedule content creation and publication in advance
    • Align content topics with local events, holidays, or seasonal trends
  4. Create valuable, localised content
    • Focus on topics that are relevant and useful to your local audience
    • Incorporate local keywords naturally into your content
    • Use local examples, case studies, and success stories to make your content more relatable
  5. Optimise content for on-page SEO
    • Include local keywords in page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and image alt tags
    • Use schema markup to help search engines understand your local content
    • Ensure your content is mobile-friendly and loads quickly
  6. Promote your local content
    • Share your content on local social media groups and forums
    • Reach out to local influencers or bloggers to collaborate or share your content
    • Utilise local email marketing or SMS campaigns to promote your content to your local audience
  7. Measure and refine your strategy
    • Track your content’s performance using tools like Google Analytics
    • Monitor your local search rankings and traffic
    • Continuously refine your content strategy based on performance data and audience feedback

Developing and executing a comprehensive local content strategy can effectively attract and engage your local audience, build your business’s online authority, and improve your local search rankings.

Reviews: A Key Local Ranking Factor

Online reviews are a significant prominence component and can greatly impact your Local Pack rankings. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business profile and other relevant platforms. Responding to positive and negative reviews shows that you value customer feedback and can further enhance your prominence in local search.

Balancing Proximity and Prominence

While links, content, and reviews can influence Local Pack rankings, it’s important to remember that proximity and GMB optimisation remain the most significant factors. A well-optimized GMB listing and a location close to the searcher can often outweigh a business’s online prominence.

However, investing in local content, links, and reviews can give you a competitive edge, especially against businesses with similar proximity and GMB optimisation. By building prominence through these off-page factors, you can improve your Local Pack rankings and drive more traffic to your business.

Encouraging Customers to Leave GMB Reviews

Reviews are a powerful way to build trust and credibility with potential customers and a key ranking factor for the Google Maps Local Pack. Encouraging customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business profile can significantly impact your local search visibility and help you stand out from competitors.

Make It Easy for Customers to Leave Reviews

One of the most effective ways to encourage reviews is to make the process as simple as possible. Prominently display links to your GMB review page on your website, email signatures, and receipts or invoices. By making it easy for customers to find and click on these links, you reduce friction and increase the likelihood of them leaving a review.

Ask for Reviews at the Right Time

Timing is crucial when asking customers for reviews. Reach out to satisfied customers shortly after they’ve had a positive experience with your business, such as after a purchase or service completion. You can ask for reviews in person, over the phone, via email, or text. Be genuine in your request and express your appreciation for their feedback.

Respond to All Reviews

Responding to all positive and negative reviews shows that you value your customer’s opinions and are committed to providing excellent service. Thank customers for their positive reviews and address any concerns or complaints professionally and promptly. By actively engaging with your reviews, you build stronger relationships with your customers and demonstrate your responsiveness to potential customers reading your reviews.

Leverage Email and SMS Marketing

Consider incorporating review requests into your campaigns if you have a customer email list or SMS marketing program. Send follow-up emails or texts after a purchase or service, thanking customers for their business and asking them to share their experience on your GMB profile. 

Include a direct link to your review page to make the process seamless.

Offer Incentives (with Caution)

While offering incentives for reviews may seem tempting, it’s crucial to approach this tactic with caution. Google prohibits businesses from offering rewards or discounts in exchange for reviews, as it can lead to biased and inauthentic feedback. Instead, focus on providing exceptional service and gently reminding customers to share their experiences if they are satisfied.

Implementing these strategies and consistently encouraging customers to leave reviews can help you build a strong reputation on your Google My Business profile. This will not only help improve your Local Pack rankings, but it will also attract more customers and drive growth for your local business.

The Role of Social Media in Local SEO

While social media signals may not directly impact local search rankings, they can still significantly affect your overall local SEO strategy.

By leveraging social media platforms, you can increase your online visibility, engage with your local audience, and drive more traffic to your website and Google My Business profile.

Increased Online Visibility and Brand Awareness

Maintaining an active presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can help increase your business’s online visibility and brand awareness.

By regularly posting engaging content, interacting with your followers, and participating in local community discussions, you can expand your reach and attract more potential customers to your business.

Improved Local Engagement and Customer Interaction

Social media provides an excellent opportunity to engage with your local audience and build relationships with potential and existing customers.

Respond promptly to comments, questions, and messages to show that you value your customers’ feedback and are committed to providing excellent service.

This increased engagement can lead to more positive reviews, recommendations, and, ultimately, more business.

Driving Traffic to Your Website and GMB Profile

By sharing links to your website and Google My Business profile on your social media accounts, you can drive more traffic to these important online assets.

Encourage your followers to visit your website for more information about your products or services and leave reviews on your GMB profile. This increased traffic and engagement can indirectly contribute to your local search visibility.

Social Media as a Local Content Distribution Channel

When you create local content, such as blog posts, videos, or infographics, social media platforms serve as powerful distribution channels. Share your local content on your social media profiles to reach a wider audience and attract more local customers. This content can also earn local backlinks, further boosting your website’s authority and relevance for local searches.

Leveraging Local Hashtags and Geotags

Using local hashtags and geotags on your social media posts can help your content reach a more targeted, local audience. By including your city or neighbourhood name in your hashtags and tagging your location in your posts, you increase the chances of your content being discovered by potential customers searching for businesses in your area.

While social media may not directly impact your local search rankings, it is still essential to a comprehensive local SEO strategy.

By leveraging social media to increase your online visibility, engage with your local audience, drive traffic to your website and GMB profile, and distribute local content, you can ultimately improve your local search presence and attract more customers to your business.

Speak with a specialist at Contactora to help improve your local SEO reach.

Connect with our specialists at Contactora to improve your local reach.

Our team has extensive experience in local SEO, helping many businesses improve their Google My Business rankings and organic SERP positions for local searches.

Our experts can guide you through enhancing your GMB visibility, building a content strategy around local search, building links from local authority sites and maintaining and managing the GMB profile. 

Written By
I've worked in digital marketing for 10+ years and founded 3 agencies. I am the CEO of Lakewood media Limited and our digital marketing agency contactora.com. I also head wphelper.io, a support and maintenance company and fuunction.io, our premium design and development agency.I currently spend my time developing strategies for digital marketing, covering everything from SEO, PPC, lead generation, email marketing, analytics and conversion optimisation. My role is to ensure our agencies are at the forefront of the industry so we can provide the best solutions and remain agile.I also manage the daily operations at our parent company, where I enjoy the business side of running a group of agencies.
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