Forty-four per cent of the clicks from local searches go to the top three businesses in Google’s Map Pack. This feature is the map that shows three businesses nearby or in the area that you’re searching. Although the factors remain the same, gaining visibility in the Map Pack is slightly different to the Organic Results in terms of a factor’s weighting of impact. If you’re not ranking in Google Maps, here are the eight factors that influence the search engine’s decision to position your business in the Map Pack.
Top 8 Signals for Ranking in Google Maps
Google Business Profile Signals
First of all, without a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), your business doesn’t stand a chance in the Map Pack because this feature consists of these listings. It’s also insufficient with incomplete and inaccurate information. As 25% of Google’s decision is based on your Google Business Profile, you must complete your listing. The first step to influence Google to display your business in the Map Pack is adding the contact details and a description from your business’s perspective.
Google relies on information from around the web to determine your business’s location and popularity. A business with just a website and a Google Business Profile seems less trustworthy than an organisation with links from blogs, local sponsorships, and partnerships. Google wants to show its users, potential customers, the most trustworthy businesses. You can help the search engine by building links, accounting for over 16.5% of its decision.
Read 7 Local SEO Backlinks.
Reviews are important in building social proof to gain new customers and essential for achieving the top three positions in the Map Pack. They account for 15.5% of Google’s decision. Most business owners assume only the reviews on their Google Business Profile that matter. However, that’s not the case—reviews on any trustworthy directories or industry review sites all count. If you’ve already achieved a similar review count to your competitors, consider using other platforms as well. Otherwise, focus on your Google Business Profile first.
Your website must contain precise primary and secondary keywords on each relevant page combined with unique and local content. This signal accounts for nearly 14% and helps Google understand how relevant your business is to the searcher. If your web pages explain your services while using relevant local information, Google can easily determine your business’s relevance for the searcher.
Google needs to verify your business’s Name, Address and Phone (NAP) is accurate with other directories because it’s an unpleasant experience for the searcher if they attempt to call and the line is dead. If your business isn’t listed on any other directories besides Google Business Profile, it cannot verify any information and will avoid listing your business in the top three. This signal accounts for over 11%, which means it’s worth adding your business to directories like Yell and Yelp.
Businesses can partially influence behavioural signals. Occasionally, Google shares little golden nuggets about their closely guarded local algorithm. They’ve informed the industry that the website’s click-through rates (CTR) due to the meta titles and descriptions, knowledge panel interactions such as phone calls, directions and website clicks, and the searcher location are some of the factors. A business can only really influence the meta title and description aspect, so making sure it contains the keyword and accurately describes the page is likely to influence the CTR positively.
Personalisation signals only account for slightly less than 6% but are one of the easiest ways to climb into the Map Pack. Using images such as your logo, staff, premises are great, and stock images are a big no-no on your Google Business Profile. In addition, replying to reviews with the reviews name with a unique way of saying thank you every time will positively influence your rankings in the Map Pack and your customers lifetime value.
Finally, social signals. These account for under 3% of Google’s decision to list your business in the top three on the Map Pack. Being active on social media is one factor, but having high levels of engagement is a winning factor. Posting great images and other content that receives likes and shares is excellent for promoting your business and your position in the Map Pack. However, it’s only a tiny factor, so even if you have the rest of the signals covered, you could still reach the top three depending on the competition.
To stand a chance ranking in Google Maps, you need to ensure the following:
- Create and complete your Google Business Profile
- Build relevant local links
- Gain reviews on various review sites
- Create unique and locally relevant content
- Add your business to local business directories
- Write enticing and accurate meta titles and descriptions
- Upload images of your premises and staff
- Reply to reviews with a personal touch
- Share great content on social media