There’s a magic place you want to be if you’re a local business, and it’s called the “Google 3 Pack.” It’s at the top of each search you make. Let’s say, for example, you type in the word “pizza.” And, since searches from mobile devices are approaching the 60% mark, Google wants to give you relevant results that are based on your location, as well as popularity.

Because who knows? You might make that search and then head right over to make a purchase. The big question on many local businesses’ minds is: “How do I get into this 3 Pack?” Or at least, “How do I get a better showing on search engine rankings?” Start with the basics.

Taking your NAP seriously

NAP is an acronym, and it’s an important one to know – and get right – for SEO. NAP stands for:

NAME
ADDRESS
PHONE

If some of the most important things for Google are relevance and accuracy, a local business that has multiple addresses is going to cause some problems. This is one of those ‘follow the rules’ kind of things. Search engines like Google follow standards for address formatting.

Your address must appear in a standard format and be consistent wherever it’s found online – especially in listings. How should it appear? The best format to use is the one matching how the United States Postal System has you on file. Use their site to see how they list the address for your business.

Does the USPS use “ST” instead of “Street”? And, maybe “STE” instead of “Suite”? Follow suit. Consistency is the key, so make your address match this master listing wherever you come across it. Be sure to do the same thing with your telephone number. Pick only one and use it for all listings.

Get listed

Have you actually set up your listing on Google, Bing, and other major search engines? Do that today. How about alternate search tools like Acxiom, Best of the Web, Citysearch, or Insiderpages?

One easy way to see where you are – and where you are not – is to use our free tool. Just type in your business information and find out how accessible you are to the listing services that contribute your ranking when someone does a search your local service or product.

Start asking for reviews

Google and other major search engines place great value on customer reviews. You’ll need reviews if you want to make it into the Google 3 Pack, or just to get better search rankings overall. Do you have a listing with Foresquare, Yelp, and Google+Local?

These are three of the most important sources to start. Yelp is especially helpful if you want to see better search engine rankings on Bing.

Localize your content

Well written content is one of the most powerful ways to increase your ranking as a local business. Remember that search engines want to return suggestions that are relevant. They’re looking at location and reviews, but they also favor articles that provide accurate and insightful information matching searches.

Write about the problems you solve. Integrate local areas such as neighborhoods or suburbs into your articles and blog posts. Feature videos that have local places and events in your titles.

Search engines don’t go out of their way to find you. You’ve got to make it easy by being consistent with information, and by helping them demonstrate your relevance to searchers. It’s a partnership. Many small, local businesses realize that search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t something they have time for.

Meanwhile, potential customers are driving by them right now on their way to the competition – because they took their NAP seriously. Start with our free tool.