In 2016, when mobile web browsing outpaced desktop traffic, digital marketing pivoted. These days, instead of spending time searching on a computer, most consumers make their decisions in a matter of minutes using their mobile phones.

According to research, 75% of consumers use a business’s website as part of their decision-making process, while an even higher number, 87%, consider local listings. If someone’s looking for a cup of coffee, for instance, they’ll simply search it on their phone, and the top three nearby coffee shops will pop up.

Most of the time, that’s the end of the search. That person might click through the Google reviews or photos, but then they’re likely to just choose a coffee shop from the list. A  Sparktoro study found that in 62% of local mobile searches, the customer doesn’t click search results to visit a business’s webpage. So more than likely,  any coffee shops that didn’t pop up as one of the top three, are as good as invisible.

Getting one of those top three spots in a local Google search is the key to successful, local SEO.  Especially for brands who need to compete on the local level, such as small businesses like restaurants and coffee shops.

So what can a small business do to make sure that they’re popping up in the top three in local searches?

Optimizing SEO for Local Searches

With thousands of locations, it can be overwhelming to try to top search engine results across the board. Focusing on local searches instead is a great way to boost your small business’s online presence – and drive more people to your physical location.

When looking local, you need to think mobile. Mobile users are likely to use Google to lookup local businesses – which means you’ll want to focus on becoming one of the “Local 3-Pack.”

In Google’s search results, the Local 3-Pack is a colorful, easy-to-read map listing.  It shows consumers what Google considers to be the three most relevant businesses based on the search terms and the search location. Grabbing one of those top three spots is critical to helping potential customers find your business in real-time.

So how to hit the top three?

The key to making it into that coveted Local 3-Pack is first to make sure that your website’s SEO is in order. Then, optimize your Google My Business (GMB) page to make sure that Google’s search bots have everything they need to inform customers about your business in local searches.

Optimizing your Google My Business Page

Optimizing your GMB will make you more visible in local searches. Start by providing relevant information, such as your company’s name, category, location, and service area. You’ll also want to add in the hours of operation, being as specific as you can with special hours or holidays, and provide your phone number and website too.

There’s a space to add a business description, as well as a place for customers to leave reviews. Once you’ve verified you own your business (you’ll have to receive a postcard from Google to do so), you can respond to reviews via the GMB dashboard. You can also update photos from there as well, so potential customers know what they’re looking for.

Boost your online presence, locally

If you’re worried that your business isn’t coming up at the top of those critical mobile local searches, changing your SEO strategy and adopting new tools is essential to ensure that you’re getting seen by mobile users. Implementing a solid SEO strategy on your website, and optimizing your Google My Business page, are great starting off points. If you’re looking for more advanced options, get in touch with an SEO specialist for more information.