7 Strategies to Get Ranked on Google for Local Businesses

Today you’re going to learn 7 Strategies that can get you ranked in Google’s Local 3 Pack.

Which puts your business on Page 1 of Google’s Search resultsEVERY TIME

The Local 3 Pack now shows in the #1 position
in Google search results 93% of the time.


And with 19 million+ Australians using Google every month there is no better place to be for a local business.

If you want more customers then getting ranked in a Local 3 Pack is your answer.

These 7 Strategies will show you how…

What is Google’s Local 3 Pack?

So what is a Local 3 Pack?

The Local 3 Pack is the term used by experts to describe Google’s Top 3 businesses for one particular search query.

Some say it’s the Holy Grail of modern advertising and for local businesses a Top 3 position literally puts you on the map.

Well, Google’s Map.

Here’s an example of a Local 3 Pack when I recently searched on Google for Mechanics in Grafton.

Google Map for Mechanics in Grafton Local 3 Pack

At the top of Google’s results (Not including ads) was the image above of a Google Map which included three labelled businesses.

These labelled businesses made up the Local 3 Pack for this specific search and were also listed first when I scrolled down further.

Local 3 Pack for Mechanics in Grafton 3 Top Businesses

From this situation, 44% of all customers will click on one of the these three businesses with 28% of those clicks resulting in a purchase.

The bad news is that the other 26 Mechanics in Grafton are relying on customers to click on More places.

Which only happens about 10-12% of the time.

But here’s the good news.

Anyone of those 26 Mechanics can rank in a Local 3 Pack if they use just a few of the 7 strategies shown here today.

But the first question should be…

Which Local 3 Pack do you want rank for?

Different Searches = Different Local 3 Packs

Here’s a basic summary of how Google works:

Let’s say a customer is looking for a Mechanic in Grafton but types in a different combination of words such as:

  • Auto Repairs Grafton
  • Cheapest Mechanic Grafton
  • Best Car Repairs Grafton
  • Grafton Motor Mechanics

Google will reply with a different Local 3 Pack for each word combination or keyword as the experts call it.

Now, when I checked all of the above searches Grafton Automotive was still in every pack, but always had two different rivals alongside them.

Which gives all the other 26 Mechanics in Grafton a fighting chance.

If they focus on keywords that will actually benefit their business, the Local 3 Pack will serve them well.

This leads us to Strategy Number 1, Find Great Keywords.

Local 3 Pack Strategy #1 – Find Great Keywords

By the end of this chapter, I hope that you have 3-5 keyword combinations that align with your business.

You see, the aim is to get ranked in Local 3 Packs for keywords that will actually improve your bottom line.

The Right Keywords

For example, let’s say I was a mechanic in Grafton who charged more than my rivals and delivered better a service.

I would be crazy to try and rank for the keyword ‘Cheapest Mechanic Grafton’, even if that was the most popular search on Google.

Because when I reached that Local 3 Pack, most customers that call would only be looking for cheap quotes.

Instead, I would prefer to rank in the Top 3 Mechanics for keywords like:

  • Best Mechanic Grafton
  • Grafton Best Auto Repairs
  • Quality Car Service Grafton

That way the type of customers that call will be looking for the best service, not the cheapest.

Of course if my business was the cheapest, then I would definitely try to rank for that keyword.

Choose the Right Local 3 Packs First

So before attempting to aim for random Local 3 Packs, take the time to research the type of customer you are looking

Then add those keywords around ‘hard to rank’ keywords which in this example would be simply Mechanic Grafton.

Using our quality mechanic example, the five Local 3 Packs might look like this:

  • Mechanic Grafton (always compete for the hardest)
  • Auto Repairs Grafton (include a second version of the hardest)
  • Quality Car Service Grafton
  • Best Car Repairs Grafton
  • Reliable Mechanic Grafton

For the last three, think about what your ideal customer might type into Google.

Now, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could see how many people were searching those keywords every month?

Let me show you how.

An Italian Restaurant in Geelong

The following is a fictional story about Mario and Luigi.

Two brothers who have just opened an Italian Restaurant in Geelong, Victoria.

Here’s how they decided on their five keywords.

Mario’s first step was go to Google and start typing their hardest keyword which is Restaurants Geelong.

And before he presses enter, he notes down the words on Google’s auto-suggest list.

Google Search Auto Complete Geelong Restaurants

Google suggests these add-on keywords because they are already popular searches.

Mario then hits enter on Restaurants Geelong and scrolls down to the bottom of the page to view the Related Searches.

Google Related Search for Geelong Restaurant

Here he gets another list of popular keywords including his ultimate keyword combination Italian Restaurants Geelong, which is listed on top.

Mario dismisses Alma Restaurant because he wants to ignore any words that are related to a rival.

He instead clicks on his ultimate keyword to see which restaurants are currently ranked in the Local 3 Pack.

Studying the Competition

When Mario clicks on Italian Restaurants Geelong he gets Google’s 3 Top Recommendations or Local 3 Pack.

Local 3 Pack Italian Restaurants Geelong

He then clicks on the top spot, Denny’s Kitchen, and visits their homepage to copy the link.

Mario then opens a new tab with a website called Ubersuggest, switches it to Australia, and then pastes in the website link for Denny’s Kitchen.

Denny's Kitchen on Ubersuggest

Hits enter and in seconds get a results panel that looks like this.

Ubersuggest Results for Denny's Kitchen

Which gives Mario the keywords that real customers are typing into Google to find Denny’s Kitchen.

He can also see that their ultimate keyword Italian Restaurants Geelong is being searched around 1000 times per month.

Final Selection of Keywords

Before settling on his five keywords, Mario repeats the process by checking the websites of other Italian restaurants in Geelong.

Each website giving him more keywords to consider ranking for.

Finally, Mario and Luigi cross out any keywords that don’t align with their restaurant until they have five Local 3 Packs to aim for.

Click here for a step by step example of how to use Ubersuggest.

How the Experts Find Keywords

Ubersuggest is an excellent free resource but if you want to know how the experts are finding keywords, try SEMRush.

SemRush provides more detail about your competitors, can save/create reports and comes with a listings management tool that is great for small businesses.

Plus you can try SEMRush for free in exchange for your email.

Note: This website will earn a commission if you purchase a paid subscription but the free account alone is awesome enough.

Once you have selected five keywords worth ranking for, it’s time to move on to Strategy Number 2.

Local 3 Pack Strategy #2: Complete Google My Business Profile

A common mistake that most business owners do is leave their Google My Businesses profiles incomplete.

This is great because its easier to rank above them by filling out the rest of your profile.

So here I have included a checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything that might hurt your chances of getting ranked.

Google My Business Checklist

This checklist is just a brief run down. For a complete walk through with tips and tricks check out our Definitive Guide to Google My Business.

After completing Google’s verification process your Google My Business profile will already have:

  • A Business Name
  • Address (Optional)
  • Primary Category
  • Phone Number (Optional)
  • Website (Optional)
  • Service Locations (Optional)

But there aremany more sections to fill out and each one gives Google more insight into how your business can better serve its searching customers.

Let’s go through all the essentials.

Logo Photo

Adding your Business Logo is pretty straightforward, but note that it is displayed as a circle which can cut off some logos.

Cover Photo

The Cover Photo is the one photo that you can suggest to Google to be the first photo shown on your profile.

Add Other Photos

Google recommends adding a variety of photos to your profile such as Exterior, Interior, Staff Members and of Products or Services.

These should be added consistently over time and ideally combined with Strategy 3.

Opening Hours and Public Holidays

If your local rivals haven’t bothered, this is an easy section to complete that can jump you up a few positions.

Fill in all 7 days and if later they change, be sure to update them.

There’s an option to add Public Holiday trading hours as well.

If you aren’t certain of them now, be sure to have them filled out a minimum 7 days before the next Public Holiday.

If you need to you can double check all the Public Holidays in Australia here.

Add More Categories

Another lesser known tip is that you can add up to 4 additional categories to your profile. More categories provide you more chances to rank for search terms that are close to your industry.

Last count there were almost 4000 to choose from.

Business Description

Often neglected, the Business Description gives owners the opportunity to describe what they do with a maximum of 750 characters.

Don’t waste the opportunity to give your customers more reasons to do business with you.


The Shortname is where you create a ‘username’ which then becomes a link you can send to your happy customers.

You can then send that link to customers where they can leave valuable reviews of your business.

Customer Reviews are covered in more detail in Strategy 5.

Completed Profile

There are other things you can do on Google My Business but once you have completed all of the above steps, your profile is ready to be ranked in your chosen Local 3 Pack.

For most industries across Australia, this next strategy alone can make a huge difference in how a business is ranked on Google.

Local 3 Pack Strategy #3: Geo-Tagging Business Photos

For one third of Google’s customers, location is the most important aspect of a business. They all want it yesterday.

Google understands this and therefore ranks businesses higher when they are closer to wherever the customer is searching from.

With this in mind, how can owners regularly add content that is highly relevant to Google’s local customers?

The answer is Geo-Tagging.

What Is Geo-Tagging Photos?

Geo-Tagging Photos is the process of adding location data to photos so that Google can see where they were taken from.

When a business consistently adds photos to their GMB profile and Facebook page with location data, Google’s trust in the business grows.

Each and every photo, as long as it’s business-related tells Google that:

  • Your still in business
  • Your at the location stated in your profile
  • Customers are being looked after
  • You’ve gone the extra step to speak in Google’s language.

So how can a local business add Geo-Tagging to all the other lists of things to do. It’s much easier than it sounds.

How to ADD Geo-TagGINg TO Business Photos?

When it comes to Geo-Tagging there are two types of photos.

  • Photos You Haven’t Taken Yet
  • Photos You Have Already Taken

Each type of photo requires a different method to Add Geo-Tagging. Let’s start with the easiest method.

Photos You Haven’t Taken Yet

From now on, use these steps to add Geo-Tags to all the photos you take of your business.

Here’s how you do it for different devices:

On Android Devices:
First go to your Camera App (I am using a Samsung Galaxy 9) and click on Settings.
Then scroll down to Location Tags and turn them on.
Take Photo

On Apple Devices:
Start by tapping the “Settings” icon on the iPhone’s home screen.
Then Tap “Privacy” and then “Location Services”.
Press the “Location Services” switch to the On position. And finally scroll down and turn on the “Camera” switch.
Take Photo

Once you have turned on Location settings, every photo you take will include Geo-Data or EXIF data.

If You Have Already Taken the Photo

Many businesses already have large collections that would be ideal for uploading to their Google My Business profiles.

Adding Geo-Tags to these photos requires a different method and can be a little tricky unless you have an Apple device.

On Android devices:
The only reliable method I was able to find was this version from GeoImgr. They charge about US $10 per month for up to 1000 photos.

If you have lots of photos its worth paying for one month and then cancelling it afterwards.

Note: This website has no financial interest in Geolmgr.

On Apple devices:
Adding Geo-Tag is quite simple on Apple devices but to save space I will recommend this article which walks you through the process with images.

For years programs were designed to remove Geo-Tags over fears of personal privacy.

Only recently have there been programs designed to add them which explains why there is a lack of options for photos that have already been taken.

How to Rename Photos for Local 3 Pack

After you have Geo-Tagged your photos (or even if you haven’t) the last step before uploading them onto your GMB profile or Facebook page is to Rename them.

Renaming the Photo’s Title helps Google to understand what the photo is about.

Here’s an example of what a photo’s title looks like straight after taking a photo.

Raw Photo Title Before Renaming

A big line of numbers that only gives Google the date the photo was taken.

Instead, try to rename the photo with a title like this:

Rename Photo Title Suggestion

For a local cafe the photo title might be changed to:

This small edit (including hyphens) provides Google some context over the photo and reinforces any Geo-Tag.

Be sure to alternate the keywords you decided on in Strategy 1 and to plan your photos so that they are relevant.

Adding photos to your GMB profile is one of the easiest ways to consistently tell Google the type of Local 3 Packs you want to be ranking for.

If for any reason you can’t Geo-Tag your photos, definitely rename them.

The next strategy is to develop some business profiles.

Local 3 Pack Strategy #4: Develop Strong Profiles

For the better part of the last decade, Business Citations grew into a massive industry driven by businesses seeking to increase their online presence.

Marketing agencies across the world are still promoting packages that list your business onto hundreds of online directories that no one visits.

Some costing up to $5 per directory.

This method used to catapult local businesses onto Page 1 of Google’s search rankings in just a few months.

But recent research has revealed that the impact of Citations on Google rankings is no longer worth the huge investment.

What Can Boost Google Rankings?

So, rather than list your business on 100+ websites and online directories that no one has ever heard of, I am going to suggest you create profiles on just 10.

And then develop all 10 business profiles on a regular basis by posting content and collecting customer reviews.

These ten profiles, built steadily over time, will always outrank 100 listings on no name websites.

10 Best Free Business Profiles In Australia

From a list of over 200 websites available to Australian businesses, I am going to suggest you start and develop a profile with these ten.

Note: Each link below takes you to the registration or signup page for that profile.

10. Booking.com

For motels, hotels, B&Bs and homestays, Booking.com has over 400 million monthly visits and is consistently found in the Google My Business knowledge panels.

The same can also be said of their restaurant sister website OpenTable.


9. TrustPilot

TrustPilot is one of the biggest review websites in the world collecting over 1.2 million every month.


8. Word of Mouth

Founded in Brisbane, Word of Mouth isn’t as huge as the others on this list but it has still gathered over 600 000 customer reviews across Australia.

For businesses, it offers a great reward program with decent incentives for reaching little milestones.

Word of Mouth Womo

7. Yelp

Mainly for restaurants and cafes but a lot of reviews here tend to push good businesses into great rankings.

Also consider other heavyweights like MenuLog and UberEats if this is your industry.

Yelp logo

6. Trip Advisor

With over 500 million customer reviews, TripAdvisor is a global leader and is always found within GMB Profiles.

It’s not for every business type but it is common for the top Restaurants and Hotels to have big numbers of reviews here.

In a recent study we did on cafes around the world, Trip Advisor was by far the number 1 website to build reviews on.

tripadvisor logo

5. Groupon

Groupon isn’t for every business either but it makes this list because their reviews are often found in GMB Knowledge Panels.

Plus Groupon generates a lot of foot traffic for local businesses which is another powerful method of boosting your ranking on Google.

Groupon Logo

4. True Local

Here is another Australian site that is a substantial customer review collector.

But the real reason True Local makes this list is that it also generates around 2 million visitors per month.

True Local Logo

3. Yellow Pages

In Australia, it ranks highly in my opinion due to its huge monthly website visitors (Around 6 million).

It’s also common to see many of the businesses in Local 3 Packs to have a Yellow Pages listing.

Yellow Pages Logo

2. Facebook

Facebook rarely needs an introduction. It ticks all the boxes here with a high domain authority, a huge collector of customer reviews and arguably the best way to build a local audience.

Not only does Facebook reviews get displayed in GMB Knowledge Panels a bonus profile link can also appear at the bottom or under the About Tab.

Facebook Icon displayed on Google My Business

1. Google My Business

Again I know. But this is the world’s best citation and it deserves its place as Number 1 on this list. Plus to be part of any Local 3 Pack you must have a Google My Business profile.

Google My Business Logo

It’s a debatable list and I encourage you to disagree with me in the comments below.

The reasoning behind these profiles is that businesses in highly competitive Local 3 Packs have often developed these very well.

How to Develop Your Business Profiles

Registering your profiles is only the beginning.

It will take small consistent efforts to develop profiles that will attract Google’s attention.

Take the time to add photos to all of the websites that accept them.

Fill out your profiles completely and use a variety of business descriptions. Add products if its applicable.

And be sure to update any change in details such as trading hours, phone numbers or addresses.

Here’s how you can integrate these profiles into your busy weekly schedule:

  • Allocate 1 hour every week
  • Post once per week on Facebook
  • Add at least one photo per week to Google My Business
  • Respond to ALL questions and customer reviews
  • Send happy customers review links to all the profiles that accept them.

The fifth point leads us to Strategy Number 5, and in 2019, it’s probably the most important of all… Customer Reviews.

Local 3 Pack Strategy #5: Collecting Customer Reviews

Whether you are trying to rank in the Local 3 Pack or you are already there, customer reviews are possibly the most important aspect of your businesses’ online profile.

Google Reviews Summary of a Local 3 Pack

Here’s why.

After you have earned a place in the Local 3 Pack, reviews will be the easiest way for customers to compare you against the other rivals.

Naturally, to avoid disappointment customers will often choose the highest rated out of the three options.

For example, if you were visiting Ayers Rock and your wife needed you to book her a hair appointment in Alice Springs, the image below might be the three options Google gives you.

Which hair salon would you choose?

Alice Springs Hairdresser Local 3 Pack Example

Most would agree that although Images Hairdressers are ranked 2nd and have less reviews, they clearly have a better average rating.

And this is why it’s important to manage your reviews.

If the other two hair salons started sending review links to their happier customers their average rating would quickly rise.

Around 88% of customers will read reviews
before they make a purchase.

With little else to go on, online reviews have become a major factor on how the customer chooses between the three businesses found in the Local 3 Pack.

How to Collect Customer Reviews

Collecting customer reviews is much easier if you have a regular plan on how to approach customers after each sale.

This will differ from business to business as the quantity and method of the transactions are different.

There are 6 main steps to collecting customer reviews.

  1. Monitor Customer Service standards
  2. Create Review Links from Multiple Profiles
  3. Collect Customer Contact Details
  4. Measure different scripts and channels
  5. Send Review Requests Weekly
  6. Respond to Every Review

Let’s cover each step in a little more detail.

1. Monitor Customer Service Standards

The first step is to make your staff aware that your business is chasing quality customer reviews.

And then monitor how your customers are being served on a daily basis.

Here are some quick tips that will help get your staff on point:

  • Praise staff when excellent service is observed
  • Challenge staff to have their names left in a review
  • Hang copies of reviews in the lunch room to inspire more

Any one of the tips above can boost customer service to a level that is worthy of attracting more reviews.

2. Create Review Links for Multiple Profiles

The next step is to create links that send customers to multiple websites where they can leave a review about their experience.

One of the big differences with competitive Local 3 Packs such as Melbourne Restaurants is that the top 3 businesses earn lots of customer reviews on several websites.

To give you a start, here’s how you can generate a review link for a Google My Business and Facebook account.

How to Create a Google Review Link

There are a few ways to create a Google Review Link but recently Google introduced an easy method called the Shortname.

Basically, you choose a short version (like a username) in your Google My Business profile and it becomes a handy link that sends customers towards the review panel.

Shortname Edit Screen

Here’s where you can find a Step by Step guide to creating your Shortname.

How to Create a Facebook Link

Facebook is a little trickier because it requires a link that re-directs your customers after they log in.

But this website makes it easy regardless of whether they are logged in or not.

Just visit the site, enter your Facebook pages’ URL slug and it will generate a longish link which will direct customers straight to your review panel.

If you want to shorten your link this website can create a custom URL with your business name in it.

Review Links for Other Profiles

Many of the other profiles from Strategy 4 require customers to login or signup.

Unlike Google and Facebook, not everyone has an account with sites like Word of Mouth or True Local.

In the early stages, focus on Google My Business and Facebook first and then start to spread where you are sending your customers.

As for sites like Groupon and Booking.com they will usually collect the reviews for you.

3. Collect Customer Contact Details

For some businesses these come automatic due to the sales process.

But for places like cafes and takeaway stores getting customer details can be a bit trickier.

There are a few ways to get around this such as:

  • Run a Competition where each purchase gets an entry
  • Invite reviews in-house once the customer has finished
  • Simply ask customers if they would be interested in providing feedback

Once you have gathered contact details from recent customers I suggest contacting them for a review within a week of the sale.

4. Measure Different Scripts and Channels

To improve the success rate of collecting your reviews, test out a variety of different scripts on a variety of channels.

Some businesses have found face-to-face to be very successful but the majority use channels such as emails, texts and recently Facebook Messenger to obtain successful rates.

To measure each script and channel effectively, test them out by sending to 10 customers at a time to popular profiles such as Google My Business and Facebook.

Once you have a script and channel that converts at least five reviews from every ten customers, start testing out your successful script by directing customers to other review profiles.

5. Send Review Requests Weekly

There are three key reasons why you want to send out reviews within one week of the sale.

  1. The customer will remember their experience with greater detail and therefore leave a better quality review.
  2. A weekly strategy builds momentum and helps develop your profile.
  3. A consistent approach, rather than lot of reviews at once, eliminates the chance of Google either suspending your account or deleting your reviews.

There’s a few other advantages to having a weekly review plan.

It’s easier to measure the previous week’s results, share any successes with your staff and respond to reviews quickly.

Which brings us to number 6, respond to all reviews.

6. Respond to Every Review

Whether good or bad, every business should be replying to their customer reviews. It’s a major advantage that most owners let slide.

Reply to a Review Local 3 Pack

So, when the review is positive, leaving a warm and personalised reply will encourage more customers to leave replies in the future.

When the review is negative, a no reply can be very damaging to the brand of your business.

But a quality reply to a negative review can actually improve the way new customers view your business.

In both cases, thank the customer by name and take the time to respond to the points made in the review.

The Local 3 Pack and Customer Reviews

There is no doubt that collecting regular customer reviews is a significant factor to ranking in the Local 3 Pack.

But its also a key factor to converting the customers once you have reached the top 3.

A weekly review strategy can boost staff performance, increase customer trust and push your business higher in Google’s rankings.

Local 3 Pack Strategy #6: Mobile Friendly Website

A recent study found that 52% of the internet was being accessed by mobile devices.

Mobile Usage on the Internet

So in 2019, a mobile-friendly website that loads quickly is crucial to converting your local customers.

For those wanting to start their own website be sure to consider these important factors:

  • Full ownership of the site (Avoid sites like Wix and Weebly)
  • A Mobile-friendly design
  • Proven track record of fast speed

Otherwise your potential new customers will need to go elsewhere for the information they are looking for.

Local 3 Pack Strategy #7 – Connect With Your Community

The purpose behind connecting with your local community is to develop relationships that bring about win-win situations.

And when shooting for a Local 3 Pack a win means getting any local website to mention or link to your business.

These mentions can include your business name, phone number, address, website in any combination and they can be from places such as:

  • The local newspaper
  • Another local business
  • A local school
  • A local blogger
  • A non-profit organisation
  • Local government

Whenever your business gets a mention online, Google uses that mention to evaluate your status in the community.

And for a local business you only need to gather a few of these ‘mentions’ for Google to take you seriously.

So how can you develop these mentions?

How to Develop Quality Mentions

The aim is to convince websites in your local area that your business is worth mentioning.

It can be a challenge, even for experts.

The easiest way to do this is to either develop relationships, pay for an article to be written or sponsor a local organisation.

Here’s a few strategies to get the ball rolling.

  • Sponsor a local non-profit organisation.
  • Write or commission an article that incorporates other local businesses in different industries. This way they or the council might link to the page.
  • Pay for an advertorial in the local newspaper.
  • Do something for the local youths that is worthy of a mention in the local paper or radio.
  • Enter business awards or enter staff members into industry awards.
  • Raise funds for worthy causes by reading the local newspapers and observing locals who require help.
  • Write interesting local articles on your business website that is worthy of important websites attention such as councils and non-profits.

Again, the exciting thing about connecting with your community is that it only takes a few mentions or links to skyrocket a local business into their chosen Local 3 Pack.

And the stronger you develop the profiles outlined in Strategy 4, the easier it is to connect with influential organisations in your local area.

How Can You Get Mentions for Free?

Now, I did promise that all these 7 strategies would be free to implement and I have just suggested sponsorship and paying for articles here.

And it is possible to obtain these mentions for free if you are prepared to put in some additional effort.

Here’s how:

To earn mentions from local websites for free you must offer something of value first. Some options include:

  • Write articles/blog posts that are worthy of the local council linking to. Think of lists like: 5 Things You Must Do in Broome.
  • Write articles about other local businesses in your area that are not rivals. Think: A mechanic might write about the best local businesses to go for tyres, used cars, wrecking parts or panel beating.
  • Simply asking other local businesses to add a link to your website in exchange for you linking to theirs.
  • Offering to post about local businesses on your Facebook page.

Once again, these free strategies become much easier when you have developed a decent following on profiles such as your Facebook page or built up a good customer review collection.

Another thought to consider is…

What would convince you to link to another local business for free?


With a balanced approach, any small business in Australia can use these strategies to gain a spot in their chosen Local 3 Pack.

Now it’s your turn.

Which of these 7 strategies are you going to try first?

Leave a comment below and keep me updated on how you go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *