Go on your Google Maps app on your phone or check on your browser. Search for something you need to get or are curious about right now, like flu immunisations near you. Scroll through the results and you might just notice a bit of text underneath a location’s NAP that says “Their website mentions <x keyword>” or a customer review that makes a reference to one of your services, as such in the example below. Those are local justifications.
In a nutshell, local justifications are lines of text that appear on local listings. But what else do they offer? While they do provide the user with a better idea of what the business offers, not much else is known on what it can do. The experts at DigitalMaas try to shed more light on the subject and give business tips on how to make the most out of this feature.
Understanding Search Intent
Before we dive into what you need to know about local justifications, let’s review the basics.
The foundations of local justifications run on search intent. This is the goal a user (the one who searches) wants to meet when entering keywords on a search engine. They either want to learn more about the keyword they added or find a store nearest them that sells that product.
Take, for example, the short-tail keyword “reversible jacket”. On Google Search, simply typing that in will come up with a broad search, with results coming from e-commerce websites and even online magazines that have featured parkas or jackets. But if we narrow the search down to “How to wash a reversible jacket,” the results are different and tailored to answer that person’s query.
It’s a slightly different story when it comes to Google Maps. The user’s intent is to find a listing close enough to them that sells reversible jackets. They could type “near me” to specify their search but since they’re doing it on Google Maps, their IP address and location will suffice in most cases. Google Maps will present the user with results that match their intent – as in the example below.
Biggest takeaway here? Google is big on search intent and local justifications are a testament to that—especially on Google Maps.
What You Need to Know About Local Justifications
On the surface, local justifications are similar to sections that affect GMB rankings – while not ranking factors per se, they do help some listings stand out over others.
Types of Local Justifications
- Website – any keywords that are included in your website will be matched on your listing. Note that this necessarily doesn’t mean the exact landing page on your website.
- Post – Google Posts – even older ones – may have a chance to be a justification on SERPs.
- In Stock – Bigger brands usually have this. Set up your inventory using a third-party automation solutions platform and this can pop up for your retail store.
- Menu – Bars, cafes and restaurants with menus set up on their GMB listings could see menu highlights under SERPs.
- Review – Customer reviews using terms and phrases that match a user’s keywords will have the opportunity of popping up on SERPs.
- Sold Here – A hit or miss, sometimes a little harder to find than most justifications. As best practice, anything your business sells can be put in the GMB product catalogue.
- Services – Info here is directly pulled from the list of services you add on GMB – so it’s good to add those services in for good measure.
These seven justifications serve as a reminder that customers will always have intent on doing business with a brand, no matter how broad the keyword is.
And as local justifications are becoming more visible to both local SEOs and the everyday customer, here are 4 important things that we know so far about these snippets and how they can help businesses improve their visibility in SERPs.
1. Consistent keyword planning is (still) essential.
We’ve heard it all before: “Keyword planning is dead because AI killed it.”
Keyword planning remains to be one of the foundations of great content for search engine optimisation.
Keywords are a ranking factor and help your listing show up in SERPs – and, now, more so evident in local justifications. But they also give you insight into what problems or concerns customers have that they want to be addressed.
These mentions are keywords that pique the customer’s interest in your business’, or your competitors’, so it’s important that you converse with your audience and see their pain points, and then build a keyword list from there. That way, you’re not only improving your online visibility but helping your customer solve their problems by becoming their answer.
2. Justifications rely on how complete and accurate your business information is.
This is something we always advise our customers – make sure that your NAP is complete and accurate across all citations, most especially Google My Business.
A challenge many of our customers will often face is finding the right category for their business. The trick is to find a category that is specific to your business and then find nine more secondary categories that more broadly describe what you do.
Restaurants can also include their menu – the meals can serve as keywords for local justifications. The same can apply to services for SABs and products and retail brands, for example.
3. Reviews and Google Posts will matter for local justifications.
Fresh content is helpful in building brand awareness online – and we’ve seen local justifications do just that. Keywords found in reviews like “TV repair” or “onsite installation” have the opportunity to be matched to someone’s search for “TV installation”.
On the other hand, weekly Google Posts with keywords like those previously mentioned can also appear as justifications. Some posts that are older than two weeks still do appear as snippets – this is why keywords matter along with serving fresh content regularly.
4. Some local justifications may be time-sensitive.
We’ve recently observed that the time of day may play a part in seeing more types of justifications over others, as well as ads and different categories showing up. For example, we typed “cheap parking sydney” early in the morning and saw fewer ads and more GMB posts that mention the keyword.
But towards lunch and the afternoon, more ads popped up and there were more website justifications on the listings in the 3-Pack.
We’re chalking this up to Google learning or realising that the middle of the day is better for conversions. The same goes for more coffee shops popping up in more often, as some of our colleagues have noticed.
Our observations on local justifications are new and we are still making several studies and inferences about it. But what’s important is to have a GMB listing with complete information so that a user can find you faster and make you the first choice.
With the DigitalMaas Platform, it will be easier for you to check all your locations and see how they can be improved with our locations audit tool, bulk post and editing features and so much more. Sign up for an account today.