If you’re a small business, chances are your target audience resides in the location you serve. Optimizing for local search enables potential customers to find your store more, culminating in more foot traffic.
Local SEO is vital for any small business eager to get recognized. With nearly 3.5 billion global searches through Google performed every single day, small businesses must stand out if they want to be discovered by potential customers.
Instead of relying on generic SEO practices that are sometimes specific to tall ranking within search engine result pages (SERPs), local SEO tactics focus on providing users with outcomes tailored towards a particular location. For example, people searching “pet store near me” is given different responses than people searching for “pet store in San Francisco” simply because the profile of searchers from each localization offers distinct needs that need to be addressed.
One of the benefits of local SEO services is ranking on Google’s local map pack, a section in Google’s search results that features a map of your local area with three business listings in the immediate vicinity. According to research, the first three placements get 33 percent of the clicks within Google’s Local Map Pack.
To be one of the top three featured businesses on Google Maps, optimizing keywords your prospective clients are likely to type into Google search boxes is the most effective skill. Otherwise known as local SEO optimization. This strategy will drive meaningful attention and increase walking visitors – an invaluable marketing asset for any b2c business.
There are many ways to improve your local SEO performance and increase your visibility in Google Maps search results. This guide will walk you through four steps to ranking higher in the Google local pack and how to take advantage of each tactic.
46% of all searches on Google include local intent
What is the Google Local Map Pack?
Search results for businesses on Google come in all shapes and forms. They appear via Google Maps, traditional search, or even on your screen. But one spot stands out above the rest: the coveted Google Maps Pack (aka Google Local Pack or Google 3-Pack Ranking).
This prime real estate gives your business a front-and-center position as soon as a potential customer searches for your service. Getting your company inside the Maps Pack means more visibility, clicks, calls… ultimately, more business. No wonder this is such a popular spot among big and small businesses.
The Google Local Pack, or the Google 3-Pack Ranking, definitely catches your eye when seeking results. Not surprisingly, this standout set of three highlighted results featured at the top of the search engine result page shows only the best businesses based on local search ranking factors.
Consider this set a special elite group amid a vast ocean of listed companies. As in the name (Google Maps Pack), this section of search results doesn’t just show you the business name. It also provides a map that shows you the actual store location.
This helps users find a company close to them and meets their specific needs. This means businesses that rank in the top spot will grow twice as fast compared to those not in the top spot. The Local Pack is not just an inviting opportunity — it’s quite essential.
How to Rank in Google Local Map Pack
Getting your business in that coveted real estate in search results significantly increases your chances of being discovered. While there is no standard rule on how to get there, we know that your local visibility mainly depends on your relevance to the query and proximity to the searcher.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat — it’s not your website that’ll determine if you can make it into the Local Map Pack. Your success with local SEO depends completely on something else: your Google Business Profile.
You might be thinking, “Oh, does that mean that if I rank for local map pack, then my business won’t show anymore in the standard search results?” Obviously, that’s not true. Since your website and Google Business profile are separate entities, you can get your GMB and website rank on the first page of search results. And to debunk this myth, here’s an example.
It’s a Writer’s World is currently ranking on the first page for the keyword content marketing service on both standard search results and local map pack (since I’m based in Quezon City). Therefore, it is possible.
3 Google Local Map Pack Ranking Factors
Let’s take a look at the ranking factors for the Local Map Pack:
How well your business profile matches the search intent? So let’s say someone searches for “vegan restaurant in San Francisco,” Google’s algorithm will review the query and provide the most relevant results. This means the businesses with the proper keywords (i.e., vegan, restaurant, San Francisco) in their profile—and only those—will be presented as potential answers to the customer’s query.
Your distance from the location of the searcher (near me searches) or location specified in the query. Going back to the earlier example keyword, vegan restaurant in San Francisco, the top three results will be given to those in the city.
Your business’s “prominence” is determined by various signals such as reviews, ratings, backlinks, content, and other criteria Google uses to identify the most popular businesses. The more popular your business is online (and offline), the better its chances of appearing in the Google Local Pack.
By understanding the ranking factors, you can shape your local SEO strategy and optimize your Google Business profile to get more visibility, which translates to increased views.
Local SEO: What is it, and How Does it Works? (Ultimate Guide)
Although digital channels present a wider range of reach for businesses, your proximity to potential customers still matters. Here’s a comprehensive guide to Local SEO.
5 Tips to Rank Locally in the Google 3-Pack
To ensure that your business listing is more visible in Google Maps, you can optimize it using on-listing and off-listing optimizations—much like how websites are optimized with both on-page and off-page SEO. Before starting this process, however, you’ll need to get listed on Google Maps and claim your listing.
Add your business to Google Maps
If you don’t have a Google Maps listing or are uncertain if one exists, follow the steps below to add your business. If you already have one, feel free to skip this section altogether.
- On your browser, type in Google.com/maps or do a search for Google Maps and search for your business name.
- If your business name appears in the drop-down list with a location next to it, then you are listed on Google Maps.
Note: I’ve seen cases when a listing was created by another user, not by the company. Here you don’t have to create another listing but rather see if you have the option to ‘Claim this Business?’. If that option is available, go ahead and claim the business and take ownership.
But if that’s not the case, try to consult Google support to see if there’s any way you can claim the listing.
- If you don’t see your name on the list, you’ll see an option to “add a missing place.” Click this option.
- This will prompt you to a form where you can add your name, category, location, phone number, and other information.
- Google will then as you to verify your business by sending a postcard with a verification code.
- Once you receive the postcard, enter the code and verify your business on Google Maps.
Optimize your Google Business Profile
The local map pack consists of Google Business Profiles. Therefore, claiming your business listing makes you eligible to appear in the Google 3-Pack. Optimize your profile by including accurate and up-to-date details, including your business name, category, map location, areas you serve, contact number, website, and operating hours, to name a few.
Write an original and compelling copy for your business description, and upload high-quality images to make your listing more visually appealing. Make sure to update your profile for any changes in your information. You can check out our guide here: Ultimate Guide: How to Optimize Your Google Business Profile.
Add Photos to your Google Business Profile
Google likes it when you upload photos to your listing. This means that your listing is active and Google will show it to more people. Also, Google is getting better at recognizing pictures, so they may show up in search results. Lastly, people like looking at photos, so Google will show listings with photos more often.
To improve your Google Maps ranking, upload high-quality and compelling photos to your business listing that capture what it’s like to be at your business. You can do this by going to the “Photos” tab in your Google My Business dashboard and click on the blue circle with a white plus sign. Then you will be able to drag and drop several photos and/or videos at once. You should try to add at least one new photo a day.
Encourage Positive Reviews
Consumers today are savvier than ever—they look at online reviews before making a purchase. In fact, a study shows that 80% of consumers only trust businesses with 4-star ratings and above. Another reason to encourage your clients to leave positive reviews is that Google factors them into how they rank businesses in the Google Maps Pack. They help its algorithms understand which businesses are superior to their competitors.
Obviously, businesses with more (and more positive) reviews on Google and other listing sites are more likely to rank in the Google Maps Pack than businesses with fewer or no reviews. So, encourage your customers to leave reviews on your Google business listing and make it a point to respond to these reviews:
- Businesses that respond to reviews are viewed as 1.7x more trustworthy versus businesses that don’t.
- Most consumers who read customer reviews also read the business’s responses.
- 40% of consumers expect businesses to respond to reviews within 24 hours or less.
Post Regularly to Your Google Business Profile
You can post things on your Google Maps business listing, like Facebook. If you do this often, it tells Google that you manage your listing well. This is good because then Google will rank you higher. People use search engines when they are interested in something, so if you post offers on your listing, people who see it are more likely to be interested.
There are three types of posts you can create: Offer, What’s New, and Event.
- Offer: Use this post type to promote a special offer related to your business, such as discounts or free products.
- What’s New: Use this post type to let people know about any new product or service you are offering.
- Event: Use this post type to promote an upcoming event related to your business.
You can also add links, images, and videos to your posts.
Start Ranking on Local Map Pack Today!
By following the tips outlined above, you can start optimizing your Google Business Profile and ranking higher in the local map pack. Remember to update your profile regularly, encourage positive reviews, add photos to your listing, and post regularly on it. Doing this will help you rank higher and be seen by more people in the search results.
At It’s a Writer’s World, we specialize in helping businesses get ranked higher on Google Maps. We can help you optimize your profile, manage reviews, and create localized content to improve your local map pack visibility.
We also provide content marketing services that help you keep your content fresh and engaging. Reach out to us today to see how we can help you start ranking on Google Local Map Pack!
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Google Local Map Pack FAQs
What is a local map pack?
A local map pack is a box that appears in Google’s search engine results page (SERP). It displays three local businesses related to the user’s search query.
What are local maps used for?
Local maps are used to help local businesses stand out in search engine results. They are important for businesses that rely on customers within their geographic area, as they will be able to appear at the top of the search engine results page and draw more attention from potential customers.
How do I dominate local SEO?
To dominate local SEO, you need to optimize your Google business profile, encourage positive reviews, add images and videos to your listing, post regularly on it, and create localized content. Doing this will help you rank higher locally and be seen by more people in the search results. Additionally, you can use link building tactics to improve your website’s authority and ranking.
How do I know if my Google business is verified?
You can view the verification status of your business on the “info” tab in Google My Business. There, you will see a blue checkmark next to your business name if it is verified. If it isn’t, there will be an option to request verification.
How do I get more reviews on Google Business?
The best way to get more reviews is by asking your customers directly. You can also set up an automated email or SMS system that sends out requests for reviews after a customer has made a purchase. Additionally, you can use rewards systems to incentivize customers to leave positive reviews.