Turn your local business profiles in the search results into portals that can deliver customers right from your listings.
Establishing a presence for your local business in Google’s — and Bing’s — search results enables potential customers to learn about your products, services and brand without ever having to click through to a website. It can also help you broadly communicate with your audience, keeping prospects and customers up-to-date with your latest offerings and operational changes, especially as you navigate reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.
A local Knowledge Panel, which Google also refers to as a “Business Profile,” acts as your business’ portal on the search results page. Unlike brand Knowledge Panels, claiming one is relatively straightforward — optimizing it to attract customers, answer questions and support your business’ operations is the real challenge.
What is a local Knowledge Panel?
Local Knowledge Panels are information boxes that Google displays for queries that it interprets as having local intent. They typically contain business information such as hours, location, contact info, reviews, and images; however, the exact details can vary depending on the type of business. You can think of them as business profiles that appear within the search results.
Factors such as relevance, distance and the prominence of the business contribute to its visibility in local search results, although the exact details of Google’s algorithms are top secret. And, it’s not possible to pay for better rankings for your business.
Bing also has local Knowledge Panels that offer a lot of information on a business. You should also claim and update your Bing local business profile, but for the purposes of this guide, we are going to focus largely on Google.
The benefits of having a local Knowledge Panel
“It’s a prime source for leads,” said Mike Blumenthal, director of local search at, “In many categories, it’s more important than the homepage of your website . . . in the sense that more leads convert there than almost any place else on the web,” he said, adding that maintaining your business’ website is still extremely important for your local search visibility (more on that below).
Local Knowledge Panels make it easy for users to locate the information they need before they visit a business, and in many cases, can even facilitate their visit: Searchers can read reviews, check in-store product availability, ask questions, call the business, make reservations or appointments, get directions, order food to be delivered and more, right from the local Knowledge Panel.
“Pretty much all of Google’s [My Business] features, I would say, are beneficial to business owners,” said Joy Hawkins, owner and president of Sterling Sky Inc., pointing to features such as Google Posts and the questions and answers section that enhance a business’ ability to communicate with customers in a timely, convenient manner.
The SEO benefits. As is the case with brand Knowledge Panels, local Knowledge Panels provide businesses with more real estate in the search results, which can distinguish you from competitors. They also include links to your site and other features that can be used to attract prospective customers to your services or brick-and-mortar location, which is typically the goal of SEO for most local businesses.
When properly managed, local Knowledge Panels may also add an element of credibility: positive reviews, recent posts and updated hours can signal that a business is reputable to potential customers.
Getting started with your local Knowledge Panel
If your business isn’t new, there’s a good chance Google has already generated a local Knowledge Panel for you, and searchers are able to access and interact with it whether you claim it or not. This is because Google uses publicly available information and data from third parties and users to populate its local listings.
You can search for your own business’ name in Google and, if a local Knowledge Panel is shown, you can click on the “Manage this listing” link to claim your listing.
The “Manage this listing” link on a local Knowledge Panel.
You can also head directly to Google My Business (GMB) to find or add your business to Google. This option is useful if your business name is generic or contains
How to optimize your local Knowledge Panel
Once you’ve added or claimed your business, you can begin filling it in with information, images and features that can help you turn searchers into customers.
Your business’ website. “Your website is the most important data resource for Google on the web because, if it’s well designed, it indicates who you are, what you do, and where you do it,” said Blumenthal.
In addition to having detailed “About us” and “Contact” pages that answer any possible questions your visitors may have, Blumenthal recommends that business owners also give Google clear signals about their brand name using plain text, instead of relying solely on graphic logos.
In terms of helping visitors (and Google) learn about what you do, “If you want to be found for Service X or Product Y as well as Service Z and Product P, then you need content about those products and services, usually one to a page,” he said, “It helps to link to the most important of those product and service pages from the homepage body copy and from related body copy throughout the site.”
“What you put on your website has the biggest influence on things that Google shows in the search results and also where you rank,” said Hawkins, “Google also will sometimes update information automatically based on what’s on your website.”
She recommends that business owners pay particular attention to their title tags and internal linking. “In general, the practices for regular SEO are good for local SEO,” said Hawkins.
While not as important for local search as the considerations mentioned above, structured data can also add to your local SEO. For example, marking up your events with Schema can enable them to display in your local Knowledge Panel, Hawkins said.
For multi-location businesses, Blumenthal recommends using structured data in tandem with local landing pages and unique content (such as photos and reviews) to help search engines distinguish branches of your business.