2020 has seen the rise in a lot of things. Rise in social media usage, streaming services and entertainment options, and in time spent at home. In the digital marketing world, we’ve also seen a dramatic increase in the need for local SEO. And a big part of that is making sure your website, your business, shows up where people search. In 2020, more than ever, people started to search on maps of places near them.
Perhaps you’ve heard the term Map Pack. It’s growing in popularity simply because it’s becoming increasingly more important. Getting on Map Packs means when people search in your area, they find your business. Have you ever done that? You’re hungry and search for the restaurants by you? You pull out Google Maps or Yelp and search by location. It happens for nearly every business vertical. And it’s crucial for any local business to do now because consumer behavior is changing.
What’s the Why?
Did you know that 78% of local search traffic results in a purchase! That’s an incredibly high conversion metric. That means that well over the majority of time, if someone finds your business through a local or map search, they will most likely make a purchase or convert into a customer.
The other importance of ranking for local searches and map packs is that Google is getting better at understanding search queries. Rankbrain continues to improve and better understand search queries. For example, if someone searches for a “furniture store” or for “car repair”, it means that someone wants something near them. This will bring up local search results. And increasingly, there’s a map element to that to show all the options near a particular user making the query.
Simply stated, Google is showing more Map results, so you need to take that into account for your SEO strategy.
What is a Map Pack?
So what exactly is a map pack? In this example, it’s the map results and the three list results just below it that have the reviews, location, and options to go to the website or directions to the location. Google prioritizes these local results and now show up above the organic search results. It gives the user most of the information they need to know right on their screen without any additional clicks.
Most of the time the map packs comes below the paid results that say ads. They get much higher priority than the organic results. Ensuring you have a presence under the local pack is very important.
If you’re a local business, ranking for the local pack is just as important as your organic search results. Sometimes even more so! Because this can bring greater exposure than just about any other digital tool out there.
How to Get Listed on the Google Map Pack
Google My Business Profile
Ranking high on the map pack starts with optimizing your Google My Business listing. It’s a completely free tool from Google and one of the most important listings you can create for your business. The profile you see to the right of search queries provides crucial information like Name, Address, Phone Number, Operating Hours, Reviews, Posts, Photos, and so much more. All of these elements help a customer doing research learn more about a business and gain interest or even make a purchase.
About Google My Business (GMB), they say “It’s a free tool that allows you to promote your Business Profile and business website on Google Search and Maps.” When you create your profile, fill it out, and start to actively use it and optimize it. You’re taking your first steps to ranking on the local pack. Don’t just create it and then leave it alone. Update it with your most recent blog posts or content updates. Post pictures of your employees or new products you have. Increased engagement in the profile will increase the profile’s authority in the eyes of Google.
Build Up Your Online Reviews
Once you’ve got your GMB profile set up, start working on reviews. These are today’s word of mouth. People trust reviews from others more often than someone they actually know. They want to see that other customers have a good experience with your business. It can take a while to build up your reviews, but start asking from them at point of sale. Or hang up signs near the door asking for reviews. There’s dozens of other ways to solicit reviews, but just get started. And remember, it’s okay if they’re not all perfect. Learn from the bad and make sure to respond to everyone who reviews your business. The response is almost as important as the review itself.
Use Local Keywords on Your Website
We talk a lot on this blog about keyword research. That’s because it’s a crucial part of SEO. Your location in itself can be a very important keyword for ranking locally. If you’re a local business, include your city, community, and your area that you service often in your website copy.
You also need to make easy and accessible the all important NAP. Name, Address, Phone Number. Make sure it’s on every single page of your website. Most people accomplish this by placing it in the footer or header of the website. This helps the Google algorithm recognize the location on every page it crawls on to and will start to rank the site higher locally.
You can insert local keywords about your city or community into the About Us page, your home page, or throughout your content. Make sure people know where you’re located and where you service. That increasingly builds up those local keywords that will eventually build your organic and Map Pack rankings.
Build Your Link Portfolio
Even though we’re specifically talking about Google Map Packs here, there are many other directories out there. Yelp is a big one. There’s also Yellow Page cites which is a local city search site. Companies like Manta, Thumbtack, or Home Advisor can also be great places to list your business. The more listings and links that point back to your site, the better. Do your research on the best business directories for your specific industry and go to work. Or some companies have a listings product that will do all the heavy lifting for you.
Not just directories, but basic SEO practice puts heavy emphasis on more backlinks. It’s time consuming, but not hard. Build up more links to your website across the web. This signifies to Google that you’re an authority in your area. High SEO rankings will also help you to rank high in the Map Pack.
Bottom line, building good SEO for your website will also help you with your Google Map Pack rankings.
Why Should I Prioritize Map Pack Listings?
Consider the internet as a giant real estate landscape. Some websites like IBM or Google, have gigantic plots of land they own and operate. Every website owns a little plot of land. But, even if you’re a small business, or an agency working on other websites, you have that bit of digital real estate that can actually make a big difference. Just having a website gives you a little bit of land. Creating social media profiles for your business gives more land. Business directory listings increases more and making sure your business gets found through the local pack and local searches makes your digital footprint and influence bigger and bigger.