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Making it Into the Google Map Pack

Making it Into the Google Map Pack

Written by enCOMPASS Agency

If you’ve ever conducted a localized search (say, a search for a nearby eye doctor, a local pizza spot, or a plumber who services your community), then you’ve seen the Google Map Pack. Also known as the “local pack,” this is a block of three local businesses, including their contact information, placed prominently at the top of the search engine results page. Essentially, it’s Google’s way of telling the search engine user that these are probably the three most relevant answers to their query.

As you can imagine, making it into the local pack can be a boon to your business. Simply put, it means your business and website will be listed above other search engine results, ensuring greater exposure.

Given the significance of the local pack, this part of the search engine results page represents some competitive online real estate. It’s only gotten more competitive since Google’s decision to reduce the local pack from seven listings to just three.

The question is, how can your business secure a space in the local pack? While there’s no magic formula, there are some best practices that any business can follow.

Tips for Making it into the Google Map Pack

1) Claim your GMB profile.

The very first thing you should do is ensure that your business has claimed and optimized its Google My Business profile. This platform is free, and it’s also essential to gaining a position in the local pack. That’s because Google relies heavily on GMB data to populate its local search results.

What do we mean when we talk about optimizing your GMB profile? We’ve written some in-depth guidelines on GMB optimization, but the short version is this:

  • Make sure your NAP data (that’s name, address, and phone number) is listed consistently across your social media profiles and directory mentions, including GMB.
  • Ensure accurate, up-to-date information about your hours of operation.
  • Upload high-quality photos that cast your business in a positive, professional light.
  • Be thoughtful in choosing categories and attributes that accurately reflect your business.

2) Enhance your website for local SEO.

Once you optimize your GMB profile, turn your attention to your company website. There are a few ways in which you can optimize your site for local SEO results:

  • Again, ensure that you have your NAP data listed on your website, and that it’s consistent with how you list it on GMB and on other online directories.
  • Try to get locally relevant backlinks, avoiding “spammy” links in favor of reputable citations. (This may be a good time to learn more about citation services.)
  • Add structured data markup, something that will likely require some guidance from your website design team and/or SEO firm.
  • Be sure your website UX is inviting, making it easy for visitors to navigate your site and find the information they need. Focus on layout, page speed, and mobile friendliness.

3) Monitor your information.

Hopefully, these tips will help you land in the Google local pack… but just because that happens, that doesn’t mean your work is through. Once you’re in the Map Pack, we advise carefully monitoring your online presence. Keep in mind that anyone can “suggest” an edit to your online information. Google is usually pretty good about sorting out the bad edits, but every now and then an edit may be approved without your consent or notification.

Any change to your NAP information, category, photos, or location data can have a big impact on your overall search rankings. That’s why it’s important to monitor your listings, ensuring you can respond to unwanted changes before they lead to a decline in your search rankings.

4) Seek positive reviews.

To achieve and maintain your position in the local pack, you’ll need to signal to Google that your business remains “active,” and that it provides a relevant service to local consumers. The best way to do that is to work toward a steady influx of user reviews.

There are a lot of ways to get good reviews. The easiest way is to simply ask for them. Remind brick-and-mortar customers to leave you some feedback, and include review links on electronic invoices and emails.

Additionally, enCOMPASS clients benefit from several unique tools to help generate more reviews. For instance, we can auto-generate emails based on your existing client lists, and send out batched emails asking for reviews. These are spread out over time to maintain a steady stream of reviews and not a large influx at the same time, which could trigger flags with Google. This automated approach makes it pretty easy to significantly increase your number of online reviews, and this in turn can help you maintain traction in the local pack.

Find Out More About Local Search Strategies

Local search prominence can be a game-changer for your business. We’d love to help you put the right tools and strategies in place. If you’d like to learn more, contact enCOMPASS and let’s talk.