The allure of the Google 7-PackMarketing Matters
04:59 PM PST on Thursday, November 5, 2009By Cindy McMahen
Most men would love to acquire a "six pack"; that well-defined rectus abdominis muscle of the human abdomen. But a business would do well to acquire a "Google 7-pack" presence today. (That's a listing that you often find among the first page of Google's well-defined local search results.)
No doubt you've seen the Goggle 7-pack and may not have realized that's what you were looking at.
You enter a Google search query for say, "chiropractors Los Angeles" and the first results it displays are 7 chiropractic businesses all adjacent to an eye-catching map of business locations. What many people don't realize is that these local business Listings are pulled from Google Maps results and aren't derived as part of the regular Google search results.
Ranking in the Google 7-pack is becoming more and more mission-critical to having a good overall Google presence. Searches done by people looking for local goods and services are estimated to comprise some 40% of online searches today.
In addition, Google's increasingly displaying Google Maps listings for keyword phrase queries that include both localized (i.e. Los Angeles) phrases AND now, non-localized phrases (i.e. chiropractors). Google's able to do this by serving up local businesses for a set region in matching the query to the searcher's IP address. (It's the IP address which essentially serves as your online numeric address. Each server connected to the Internet is assigned a unique IP address which can indicate which region you're being serviced from and what you would therefore be more interested in seeing.)
Even savvy webmasters and search marketers who've managed to finagle themselves into a top ranking in Google's search results for choice keywords, have found that ranking in the Google's local business results isn't a given. That's because Google Maps has its own algorithm. It has its own ranking formula, separate from Google's organic search algorithm that determines just who it will display in the 7-pack.
So how can you acquire a Google's 7-pack presence?
The exact formula for acquiring one of these coveted spots is a closely guarded Google secret; however top search marketers have some recommendations:
Step 1: Claim your businesses' local search listing TODAY, before some unscrupulous person does. Chances are good that Google already has your basic business information in its index. In order to improve you're listing you'll need to claim it and verify you are the appropriate person to modify the listing for that particular business location.
Step 2: Get customer reviews. Search engines are increasingly pulling in data from social media sites and customer reviews. These testimonials are viewed as less susceptible to any shady search engine optimization tactics and search engine spam.
You'll also want to develop a strategy of ways to entice customers to add more customer reviews over time.
Step 3: Grow online mentions of your company. Citations, which are mentions of your business in other online sources (and not necessarily linking to your website) are also good for growing your presence. What's deemed a recognized authority site for citations varies by industry.
You'll want to do some research as to what Google seems to be responding to by examining those sites that are currently ranking in your business sphere.
But keep in mind that having a top listing is a moving target.
As other businesses grow their own online presence you may find yourselves preempted.
Anyone who has worked hard to acquire a nice six pack physique knows it requires regular workouts to maintain it. Obtaining a Google 7-pack listing and keeping it is no different.
With some consistent effort you can acquire and keep a top Google listing for your choice keyword phrase. This puts you front-and-center with your online audience when they are looking for local goods and services.
Cindy McMahen is owner of search marketing PROS in Riverside and is secretary and past president of the American Marketing Association - Inland Empire chapter. Contact her at 951-637-9561 or visit www.searchmarketingpros.com.
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If you're a local business, or work with/for one, it's time to start cracking into the Google 7-pack. Here are some tips to get started.