When consumers search for products and services that local businesses provide, they often turn to Google Maps for help. This is why ranking highly in the Google Maps SERP, also known as the “Map Pack” or the “local 3-pack,” is a vital part of any local SEO strategy. But optimizing for Google Maps isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s downright time-consuming and requires an ongoing commitment to four primary areas of focus: business data, local landing pages, off-page visibility, and online reputation.
The Google Maps algorithm ranks businesses based on a combination of factors, including relevance, proximity, and prominence. Relevance refers to the likelihood that a result will satisfy the search query, while proximity refers to how close it is to the user’s current location. Prominence is the third factor and refers to how prominent a result is in relation to others. To increase your chances of ranking in the local pack, you need to ensure that all three of these factors are optimized for your client’s Google Business Profile (GBP).
In 2016, Google redesigned their SERP and reduced the number of business listings displayed to a maximum of seven. This change, which SEOs call the “map pack,” or “local 3-pack” dramatically affected local SEO. A high-ranking GBP listing was now the most important factor for a local business to get noticed in local searches, and so getting found in the map pack became a crucial priority for most local businesses.
As Google prioritizes businesses that consistently deliver a positive customer experience, maintaining an up-to-date GBP listing is essential for businesses to rank well in the local SERP and Map Pack. This includes making sure that all NAP information is correct and consistent across multiple sources, such as online directories and citations. It also means ensuring that the GBP listing includes a complete list of services offered by the business and highlighting any unique offerings, such as an eco-friendly product or service.
Another way to boost your clients’ Maps rankings is by building a solid backlink profile. Link signals are one of the most significant ranking factors in both organic and local search, so it’s worth focusing on ways to build strong, authoritative backlinks to their website and GBP profiles. This can be achieved through a variety of tactics, such as guest posting on high-authority sites and running review generation campaigns.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of things that must be done to optimize for Maps, especially when you’re managing several client campaigns at once. Fortunately, there are tools available to streamline the process and take the stress out of keeping up with the latest updates to the Maps algorithm. A tool like Semrush’s Listing Management can make it easier than ever to track and manage reviews, optimize listings, and grow prominence in the Map Pack. This tool can also give you a detailed, bird’s eye view of your clients’ SERP and Maps rankings so that you can reliably track their performance over time.