A well-rounded SEO strategy should always include optimizing for local search, and one of the most important places to do this is in Google Maps. The local pack (which used to be referred to as the map pack or the 3-pack) is a group of the top three businesses that appear in a search results page on Google, and getting into this pack is one of the most important things a business can do to drive traffic and get more clients.
When a business ranks highly in the local pack, they will typically see an increase in clicks and, ultimately, sales. Optimizing for Google maps can be a challenging task, but with the right guidance, a business can easily get to the top of the local pack and see a major improvement in their bottom line.
The main goal of local SEO is to polish a business’s online presence and establish themselves as valuable members of their community. This is accomplished through a variety of different tactics, but the most important ones are improving a business’s Google My Business profile, establishing backlinks to other local websites, and creating value-rich engagement with their community. The latter can be achieved in many ways, such as participating in local events and promoting them online, getting involved with local charities and organizations, and, of course, creating content on their website that showcases their community involvement.
One of the most important elements of a Google My Business profile is adding positive reviews. The more positive reviews a business has, the higher they will rank in Google Maps. The reason for this is that Google views these as a signal of user satisfaction. Google also uses the number of clicks on a business’s GMB listing to determine its ranking, so a high number of clicks can help a business’s rank in both Google Maps and the regular SERP.
Another ranking factor for Google Maps is prominence, which is based on how well known a business is offline and online. Prominence was affected by the Vicinity update, which brought proximity back into the ranking factors for local searches, but it is still difficult to pin down exactly how prominent a business is in Google’s eyes. Google’s documentation states that they use relevance, distance, and prominence when determining how a business should rank in Google Maps.
To optimize for Google Maps, it is essential to regularly monitor rankings for the keywords you’re targeting. This can be done manually by performing a Google search for the keywords in question (preferably in Incognito Mode) or by using a rank monitoring tool that allows you to filter out Maps results only. A good tool will let you input your URL, specific keywords, and up to three cities. A service that can also track progress over time is even better.