The search engine is now showing AMP carousels for local review sites in its search results, appearing as the first organic listing (but following the local map pack). While AMP is not currently a ranking factor, Google definitely seems to give preference to AMP carousels in the search results over non-AMP ones at the present time. Success in "local" doesn't (always) require an app though or a strong social media presence (although it certainly helps), nor does it mean chasing and reacting to every single update made by Google. For those looking to employ best practices and optimize their presence over the long term, consider the following:
Websites are the face of every local business in the digital realm, and it's important to think like a user when developing its presence. Business owners should include phone numbers and addresses in a visible location, create location-specific content and realize that most users looking for local businesses are on their mobile phones (meaning a mobile-friendly site, ideally a site built with the AMP framework, is optimal). Even the manner in which page titles and meta descriptions are created matters greatly. By simply adding in the location of a business in these areas, companies are indicating to prospective visitors that their listing and their corresponding business is relevant and more clicks from the search results pages is the likely result (and more conversions as well).
Consumers use search engines to find what they are looking for upward of 80 percent of the time (according to Google), so local businesses need to concentrate their efforts on optimizing their listing within the Google My Business platform. Bing also has a comparable page for local businesses called Bing Places for Business. If companies have time for only one specific local optimization practice, ensuring there are up-to-date, complete and accurate listings on these systems is imperative to success.
Platforms including Yelp, FourSquare, MerchantCircle, CitySearch and others (for a detailed list of essential national directories in the U.S. visit wsm.co/directseo) are another important element in local optimization. Even a citation from a local Chamber of Commerce, a neighborhood newspaper or fellow business in a merchant or service provider's area can be just the citation they need to move way up the search results. It's also important to get a company's name, address and phone number (NAP) on the major citation data aggregators like Infogroup, Neustar (aka Localeze), Acxiom and Factual as well.
Most importantly, owners need to make sure that the company's NAP is consistent on as many of these directories and citation sites as possible.