Get answers to your local search questions

Maybe you’re just getting started with local search or maybe you’ve been at it for years. Wherever you are on your journey, you’re bound to have some questions that may not be found in a blog post. We teamed with local SEO experts and frequent keynote speakers, Darren Shaw of Whitespark and Dana DiTomaso of Kick Point, to answer your local search questions.


Q1. How do I use Google My Business to communicate with local customers during COVID-19?

These are the current recommendations for business owners to implement on their GMB profiles:

  • Publish updates through Google Posts
  • Update your business hours with special hours
  • Add pertinent information to your business description
  • Add a top Question & Answer about your status

Note: Google has temporarily paused certain GMB features such as reviews, review replies, and Q&A. Their support team is currently prioritizing healthcare related business listings.

Q2. If we optimize different locations in GMB to boost local rankings, will that affect our local rankings?

Q3. What’s the best practice of implementing call tracking without causing GMB issues?

“First and foremost, you want to use a solution on your website (like CallRail) that does Dynamic Number Replacement. This will show Googlebot your real number, but show visitors your call tracking number.

What about going even further? Some people want to track calls from Yelp or Avvo or other sites. I wouldn’t do it across ALL your listings, but I have seen people do it on a handful of sites they’re paying for ads on, and it has not had a negative impact.”

-Darren Shaw

Q4. Who is call tracking actually for? Is there a business case for small business or is it just something for bigger businesses?

“Call tracking is for everyone, honestly.

  • First advantage: Seeing where calls come from! Don’t just limit call tracking to your website, use it on GMB (see, flyers, TV ads, anywhere you have a number.
  • Second advantage of call tracking: Knowing which pages on your website drive calls. If you’re using CallRail’s Lead Center you can use this data when you answer the call. Though, it might be creepy to answer with “Hello, I see you are looking at furnaces!”
  • Third advantage of call tracking: You’ll have a much better understanding of your ROI. We’ve found (for example) ways to improve call-based sales for specific types of products or ad messaging based on call/page tracking data. Learn from your data and improve!”

-Dana DiTomaso, Kick Point

Q5. Is there a way to see how much search volume there is compared to how many times you are showing up for that search in the map pack?

Q6. Google has stated that keywords in your GMB’s business description is a local racking factor, but then took this statement out of their support docs. Does this actually affect search rankings?

“No. Definitely no. HARD NO. We’ve tested and then a bunch of people did further testing when this came out. Don’t listen to ranking advice from GMB support staff.”

– Darren Shaw

Q7. If I add “temporarily closed” info to my GMB because of COVID-19’s impact on business, will I drop from the Local Pack? Will it be difficult to be represented in it again when it’s safe for customers to come back?

Joy Hawkins and Rand Fishkin joined the conversation for the question all small businesses are wondering about.

For now, these are the actions that Whitespark is recommending business owners implement on their GMB:

  • Publish updates through Google Posts
  • Update your business hours with special hours
  • Add pertinent information to your business description
  • Add a top Question & Answer about your status
  • Add a banner to your business website addressing your status

Q8. How much do local directories help SEO?

Q9. Do you recommend using UTM tracking parameters on your GMB website link? What are best practices?

Q10. From an SEO point of view and as Local SEO experts, what is the best advice you both can give small businesses during time?

Looking to audit your Google My Business profile? Download our GMB checklist to make sure you’ve covered all of your bases.