What is the Google Map Pack, and how does it impact my business?
Whenever you use a location-based search, you may need a plumber or a new place to get your clothes dry cleaned; you will see a search results page with a map of the top three results. This is called the Google Map Pack, and if you own a business with a brick-and-mortar location or have a set service area, this is critical to the success of your business.
Over 90% of all Google search results feature the map pack, with location-based searches skyrocketing in the last few years. As a result, the map pack has quickly become a standard feature in search results.
The first question is, how do you ensure you show up in the map pack? Google considers various factors to determine who shows up on the map and who does not. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to improve your search result rankings.
You should be doing this for SEO purposes in general, but especially regarding the map pack. You will not appear on the map if your website and business listings are not regularly optimized to include the keywords for which you want to rank.
If you offer repairs to a variety of appliances, you need to make sure you have your complete list of services on your website. Google’s algorithm considers all these keyword factors when determining where you should rank in search results.
There are plenty of third-party websites and online tools to help you determine what keywords you rank for already, which ones similar businesses rank higher than you do, and give insight into trending keywords that relate to your business.
Google Business Profile Optimization
Second, make sure you have a fully optimized Google Business Profile. This will help with the keywords mentioned above and show Google that you have an active and, therefore, trustworthy profile. Customers are more likely to pick a business on the map pack that has better photos, reviews, and detailed information, than one that does not.
We have written extensively about GBPs, and for good reason, a fully optimized GBP can have a greater impact on your search results than even your website. One major tip is to make sure you are listed under as many appropriate categories as possible, as that will let you list as many services as you can that apply to your business.
Building a deeper content pool with localization in mind on your website will also help boost your local SEO. If you provide specific services or only operate in specific geographic areas, build your website content around this to boost those ranking factors.
Do you occasionally partner with other local businesses? Maybe you participate in events with local non-profit organizations. All of these things are easy topics to build localized content around. However, anything that ties your business to the local community and can help relate that community to the services you offer will help you rank higher in search and on the map pack.
Reviews and Review Management
Arguably the most important factor in any search result is the reviews customers leave behind. Typically, the only reviews customers will leave voluntarily are in the extreme range. It was either the best experience they have ever had or the absolute worst. Unfortunately, too often, we see the latter of those two when a business does not request reviews from its customers.
How do you overcome this? Ask for reviews from your current customers. Google, Yelp, Tripadvisor, and anywhere else you might be listed will all have a space for customers to leave a review of your business. Most potential customers will look at reviews and ratings before anything else.
There are several ways to approach this. The simplest way to do so is to ask a customer at the end of your transaction with them. You can leave a QR code on your front desk that links directly to wherever you need more reviews. Your customer scans the QR code, it takes them straight to your Google Business Profile, Facebook page, etc., and they can leave a review in a few minutes.
Another way to do this is through a variety of automated systems. There are dozens out there, but they all should offer a similar feature. For example, you have a customer in your database; they complete a transaction, which then triggers an automatic email or text message asking for a review.
Some will allow you to break this down into a series of responses. For example, the first text might ask for a rating between 1 and 5, with the follow-up based on how the customer replies. Anyone replying with a 4 or 5 might be directed to Google. In contrast, a 3 or below will be directed to your management team to take a potentially unhappy customer to an offline resolution to their unsatisfactory experience.
Links are Important Too
Anytime you can use links to high-quality websites to help customers solve problems, you are creating trust and credibility. This is especially important if they are local sources like news agencies and blogs.
This will increase your visibility online and help boost the other factors listed above. Increased visibility means you are more likely to appear on the Google Map pack.