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How to Rank in the Google Map Pack with LinkGraph’s Local SEO Guide

BLOG POSTS Local SEO SEO Guides
By Brittany Bronson
Jun 17, 2021

Local SEO is essential to your overall search marketing. If you run a local business like a coffee shop or boutique store, you want your site to be directed to your specialized community. You can prioritize those target customers with the help of Google Map Pack SEO practices.

When you become more visible on Google Map searches, you are automatically going to bring more people through the doors of your business. Ranking in the Google Map Pack is a process that takes strategy and specificity, but it can bring loads of success for your company.

What is the Google Map Pack?

Picture this: You’re going to look for a fun, local restaurant. What is the first thing you do? Google “local food near me.” The search engine will load multiple options, but three businesses will be highlighted at the top by the image of Google Maps.

image of the SERPs for a local SEO search that displays the Google Map Pack for

Each of these listings appears with details about the restaurant like its address, a summary of the location, ratings, business hours, and a photo. This is prime real estate on the Google search engine results page (SERP). You may also hear the Google Map Pack referred to as the Google Local Pack or the Google 3 Pack Ranking.

Having your local business appear on this list of results is a make or break for your organization. Almost 50% of clicks on the SERP go to businesses on the Google Map Pack. Underneath these images will be traditional text-only links which can seem less enticing to potential customers. For this reason, the Google Map Pack is the coveted spot that you should aspire to get to with your business.

How Does the Google Map Pack Work?

Google Map 3 Pack

Years ago, your search engine results would show seven companies within the Google Map Pack. As more and more people perform searches on their phones, Google lowered the results to only three businesses to make viewing simpler for mobile users.

When you search, the SERP will automatically show you three organic results. Others may be sponsored or paid ads that appear over these suggestions, but those can be less effective for harnessing new business.

Google bases which three get the coveted spots based on location, relevance, quality, and the reputation of the websites. Remember, SEO is a constantly evolving field that adapts to new developments that search engines implement. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, you can improve these three primary areas that do affect the Google Map Pack.

  1. Connect to Google My Business
  2. Harness the power of online reviews
  3. Maintain your web listings with relevant information

These are the different elements that contribute to your overall local SEO and Google Map Pack ranking in particular.

Benefits of Ranking in the Map Pack

There are tremendous benefits of ranking in the Google Map Pack. The world is full of individuals and customers who prioritize ease and convenience over everything. Draw them into your business by leading them to it in the simplest way possible.

When you appear in the big three at the top of the Map Pack, you are right there. Customers can see your address, hours, reviews, and even pictures without even having to scroll on their phones. It has been proven that they are more likely to click on one of those three options without continuing to search.

SEO is all about creating organic success for your website on SERPs. Even if you work hard to get your site high on the text-based results, you’re still going to fall behind other businesses in that coveted Map Pack spot. At the end of the day, Google Map Pack ranked sites get 40%-60% of the initial clicks on any given search. Those are huge numbers to ignore.

Beyond just clicks on your site, you can expect more phone calls and inquiries when you are ranked on the 3-pack. These results actually do impact potential customers buying decisions. Your phone information and address will be right next to your business name, so once again, this makes things exceedingly easy for customers. They’ll be able to click on the map to see how far away you are from their location or call in with the click of a button.

You can also link to social media and direct target customers to further reviews and information on those platforms. It truly is incredible how interconnected everything is on your smartphone. Take advantage of that and benefit from the ease and convenience you can bring to your customers.

Being on the Google Map Pack promotes your business in ways a traditional link won’t be able to do. Customers don’t have to click on your website to get information. The highlights will be listed right there on the search result page. One of the biggest benefits to this is the visibility of Google Reviews. Your stars are listed right there under your company name, and people will be able to directly read other customers’ positive responses.

Do note that this typically means you need to watch your reviews and strive for as many positive ones as possible. This element will actually help you rank higher and become more likely to make it on the Google Map Pack.

3 Tips for Getting in the Google Map Pack

Google has specific patterns and algorithms that help determine what businesses and websites rank higher on its SERPs. These can be difficult to navigate because there no surefire guarantee that one technique will work vs. another effort.

However, SEO experts continue to work diligently to master Google as a platform and help your business thrive. If learning how to rank in Google Map Pack is important to you (which it should be), you can rely on some of these specific techniques to improve your chances of landing a top spot.

1. Improve your Google My Business account

image that displays the official Google My Business listing for a local bakery location

It’s almost impossible to run a business when no one knows where you are located or how to get in contact with you. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to search a business and not be able to find their address, phone number, or even the official business name?

To combat these problems, you’ll need to be sure to follow up with Google My Business. This is the mechanism that allows you to update and input business information for your company on Google. The process is relatively simple, but incredibly vital. Go into the current listings, verify your information, and claim your business.

From there, you’ll be able to update the company name, add an address, pick a specific business category, and much more. Overall, this is an essential step to help guarantee the right, most updated information is on the internet about your specific business so it can move into the Google 3-Pack.

While Google My Business is important for any company, it is essential for brick-and-mortar stores. Web transactions can take place from anywhere and be shipped to customers. However, if you’re a local business, you need to be sure people can find your address and information. Updating these details will help prove you’re available and ready for the Google Map Pack.

While these two entities are quite different, they are mutually beneficial for you to get your business elevated on search engines. Read below for more information about the difference between Google My Business and the Google Map Pack.

2. Work to grow your online reviews

screenshot of the Google reviews page for a local bakery location, displaying the correlation between reviews and rankings

You’ve already read a bit about the importance of reviews, so you won’t be surprised that this is the next essential step to improve your Google Map Pack rankings.

Customers tend to rely on reviews to get a good feel for certain businesses. Research has shown that people are less likely to trust businesses with average reviews under four or five stars. They’re also less likely to trust a business with very few reviews. Therefore, having more reviews and higher ratings will absolutely help you look like a more credible website and move up the rankings with Google.

So how do you actually generate more online reviews? Look for more organic ways to encourage this kind of positive customer feedback. Start by creating easy mechanisms for leaving reviews. Add a button on your website, post a promotion on social media that encourages feedback, or send a well-timed email after someone purchases an item from your store. You can even direct customers straight to the Google review link so that feedback automatically appears on your Google Listing.

Perhaps the best way to encourage positive reviews is by providing exceptional service. The more you can impress your guests, the higher the chance you’ll get positive reviews. Also, remember how important it is to avoid negative reviews. They can drag down your Google rating which will ultimately hurt your chances to end up on the Google Map Pack.

3. Focus on location information and local citations

screenshot of a local citation for a bakery on Yellow Pages with provided business location information

Local SEO goes beyond the basics techniques you may have already implemented. While creating backlinks and optimizing your content is essential, you will need to go a step further to get on the Google Map Pack. It’s time to start focusing on location information and local citations.

This step is mainly for companies with one location or a few in a specific area. It may seem redundant, but the more you can include your address and location information, the better. Restructure your website so you have that intel on every page. Include operating hours, special promotions, local news, and other ways to connect to your community.

You can even add your own Google Maps app to your “About Us” page so people know exactly where to find you. Digital search engines like Google acknowledge this information and see your site as more credible compared to other local businesses. This will also help direct your SEO efforts to that specific city or town.

The more you can connect your brand with a certain city, the more likely you are to climb up the ranks. Connect with sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even the online Yellow Pages. Many people rely on these sites as credible sources.

Staying consistent within these sites, local blogs, and even your community’s social media pages will help increase your visibility. The more your website or brand is mentioned, the more likely it is to be on Google’s radar. Work to target these SEO strategies to a local area to improve your Google Map Pack ranking.

Google My Business vs. Google Map Pack

Think of Google My Business (GMB) as a tool and the Google Map Pack as a goal. The GMB gives you opportunities to set the record straight about your business and promote it the way you see fit. There can be so many inconsistencies online, which can harm your company.

Logging on to create a GMB account gives you the opportunity to rewrite the narrative. Adjust your business name so it is clear and succinct without keyword stuffing. Correct issues with your important company data like names, hours, and contact information. Add photos that make your company look compelling and enticing. GMB puts you back in the driver’s seat when it comes to how you want your business to be perceived.

Google Map Pack on the other hand still leaves control in the hands of the search engine. The goal is to make it onto the Map Pack and stay there, but it isn’t a consistent thing. You also have to continuously update your GMB to improve your overall SEO practices to reach this end goal.

General SEO Practices & How They Help with Google Map Pack

Getting onto the Google Map Pack is an important goal, and SEO is a powerful tool that can help you reach that milestone. Beyond specific strategies to get on the 3-Pack, you also want to prioritize your general SEO practices. Start by creating a better web design and investing in backlinks. By optimizing and creating great content directly on your site, you’re setting yourself up for success. When you can’t completely control how Google operates, you start by simply controlling what you can control: your own content.

One of the first steps to take is improving and optimizing your web content. This includes creating high-quality content full of keywords and technical SEO elements. Streamline your title tags, rework any meta-descriptions, and create cultivated blog posts and product descriptions. Include pictures and local elements that help your site score higher in those areas. This will help eliminate any clutter while allowing Google to browse and understand your content instantly. Start by simply reviewing your site to find opportunities for growth and improvement.

The simple truth is this: if you aren’t committing to SEO practices, you’re falling behind other companies who are improving their websites in this way. The expansion of digital marketing has created intense competition for any business to garner hits and increase visibility. If you want to have a chance to make it onto the Google Map Pack, you need to be taking advantage of every strategy you can. Start connecting with GMB, engage your local community through reviews, and work to optimize your site in the best way. Local SEO practices can make a huge difference to your business totals and overall sales numbers.

Climbing onto the Google Map Pack may seem like an intimidating task, but it is extremely doable. With the right team, tools, and determination, you can help your local business achieve this milestone. Sign up today to receive a consultation and start taking steps to grow your customer base.

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