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What Is The Google Map Pack & How Do You Gain Access?

Picture of Connor Wilkins
Connor Wilkins

CMO, Direction.com

What is the Google Map Pack & Why Is This Important For Local Businesses

Ranking in the Google Map Pack is like having a VIP ticket to the top of the search results, putting your business in prime position to attract local customers and outshine your competitors.

What is the Google Map Pack?

The Google Map Pack refers to the set of local business listings that appear in a prominent position on Google Maps and search engine results pages (SERPs).

When users search for local businesses or services, such as “restaurants near me” or “plumbers in [location],” Google displays a map with three relevant listings at the top.

These listings, known as the Google Map Pack (3-Pack, Local Pack, Snack Pack), provide essential information like business name, address, phone number, reviews, ratings, and website links.

The Map Pack helps users quickly find and compare local businesses based on proximity, quality, and relevance. It is an important tool for businesses aiming to increase their online visibility and attract more customers.

Example of the Google Map Pack

What Make The Google Map Pack So Important for Businesses?

The Google Map Pack is the first thing users see when they search for a local business, making them more likely to click on one of the three listings. This increased visibility can result in more website traffic, phone calls, and in-store visits.

Ranking in the Local Map Pack is also a strong indication of your business’s credibility and authority within your local market. It’s essentially a seal of approval from Google, telling users that your business is one of the most relevant and reputable options for their search query.

  • According to a study by Moz, businesses that rank in the Local 3-Pack receive an average click-through rate (CTR) of 44%, compared to just 8% for those that appear only in the organic listings.
  • Another study by BrightLocal found that businesses in the Local 3-Pack received 70% of clicks from users searching on mobile devices.
  • In contrast, businesses that do not appear in the Local 3-Pack but only in the organic listings receive an average CTR of just 2.6%, according to a study by Advanced Web Ranking.
  • Neil Patel’s analysis of over 100,000 URLs revealed that the majority of clicks (approximately 44%) were directed towards the top-ranked local result in the Google Map Pack.

How Has the Google Map Pack Changed Over the Years?

Initially, the Google Map Pack displayed three local businesses that were most relevant to the searcher’s query. Google later expanded the Local Pack to display five to seven businesses, providing more options for searchers.

However, as of August 2015, Google made a significant change to the Local Pack, reducing it back to three local results.

Today, the Local 3-Pack displays prominently at the top of the SERPs, directly below paid ads, pushing organic results even further down the page. 

It’s worth noting that the Local 3-Pack changes depending on the category being searched. For some categories such as hotels and restaurants, the Local 3-Pack displays ratings and prices, while for others such as plumber and electrician, it may include additional details such as working hours or phone numbers.

Additionally, the businesses displayed in the Map Pack change depending on the location of the searcher, making local SEO optimization essential to rank highly in the search results.

7 Factors for Ranking in the Google Map Pack

So, of course, the local 3 pack is a valuable place for your business, but how can you make sure your business pops up for the searchers who are near you and want a local business to visit?

Here are some of the factors that help you build your local SEO enough to rank as a top result on google maps.

1. Google Business Profile Optimization

Part of how Google “knows” you are a local business in your particular area is to use Google Business Profile.

Signing up is free, and it offers you a platform where you can give Google good information about the details of your business.

Optimizing Google Business Profile may start with just signing up and inputting the relevant, correct information, but you can go far beyond that.

Adding high-resolution images, picking the best categories to describe your business, adding a description, and connecting to your website are all very good ways to appear to be a reputable, easy-to-access choice for the 3-Pack. 

2. Reviews

Your Google reviews are connected to your Google Business Profile. If possible, encourage as many satisfied customers as possible to review your business using specific information about what they like and, of course, encouraging happy customers to give 5 stars.

Reviews on social media and aggregate review sites like Yelp also add positive signals that can give you a boost. Google cares a lot about these citations since they help make sure they’re showing businesses that are in the area and deliver on the promises they advertise. 

3. Optimize Your Website for Local

If you want to show up in the Google Map Pack for a particular kind of business or service, you’ll need to ensure your website also includes optimized content.

Make sure your website contains relevant keyword phrases that potential customers would use when searching for businesses like yours.

You don’t want to “keyword stuff”, with dozens of references to each keyword. Instead, follow local SEO best practices for mentioning your town or city and for mentioning your services and products.

4. Online Business Profiles, Local Directories, Citations

A citation is simply an online mention of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). The more high-quality citations you have from reputable websites, the better chance you have of ranking in the local 3-pack.

There are a number of ways to build citations, such as directory listings, being mentioned in news articles or blog posts, etc. 

 

Citations, also referred to as directories and online business profiles, are one of the most important ways in which Google ranks local businesses. Online directories contain information which helps Google to verify the accuracy of business information such as Name, Address, and Phone number.

 

Local directory sites (also sometimes referred to as citations) act as online directories for local businesses. Some examples of local directory sites include Yellow Pages, Yelp, Nextdoor and Foursquare.

 

For the healthcare industry, examples of local directory sites would be doctor.com, webmd and ZocDoc.

 

It’s always a good thing to be listed in a wide variety of online directories, but it’s even better if you’re listed on industry-specific directories.

 

When a business is listed on a local directory site, it helps Google to verify that the business is legitimate. This in turn helps to improve the business’s ranking on Google Maps.

 

So if you’re looking to improve your local map ranking, one thing you can do is to make sure you’re listed on as many relevant local directory sites as possible.

5. NAP Consistency

It may seem insignificant, but one of the major issues that confuse Google and other search engines is inconsistency in the all-important NAP information: name, address, and phone number. 

Imagine a business that changes its name, relocates, or simply switches phone numbers. Having multiple options for these three key stats makes it harder to trust that the business is still operating.

Not wanting to show bad information, Google tends to use inconsistent NAP businesses less in the 3-Pack. 

 

Keeping an organized spreadsheet of all the places where you’re listed online, from social media to delivery services or directories, allows you to go through and update everything universally whenever your NAP details change.

6. Local Backlinks

One of the ways that Google verifies that you’re a trusted and well-respected business is through backlinks. 

The assumption is that you are more interesting, important, and connected if others are referencing your products and services and directing traffic toward your site.

You can get new backlinks by asking to be featured on other sites, both journalistic sites in your area and the sites of other local businesses that work as complements to your business rather than competitors.

In turn, your own blog and site can reference valued partners and create backlinks for them.

An experienced local SEO professional can also help you think of other creative ways to improve your backlinks and boost your business into the 3-Pack.

Social media is another great way to connect with potential customers and market your business at the same time.

Use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to post engaging content that will promote brand awareness and drive traffic back to your website or GMB listing.

7. Proximity Factors

While you can control less of this, part of how you get into the Google Map Pack for particular searchers is through their physical location, as determined by Google’s reading of their IP address location.

You can help customers find you by carefully and clearly marking your “service area” in Google My Business. This feature doesn’t have sneaky loopholes, like setting your service area as the whole country, but it does help Google recognize that you are local to all of the searchers who look for your keywords in a certain city or town.

It’s worthwhile to also make sure keywords related to that local area, such as town or county names, are optimized on your website. 

Conclusion

By following these tips, you can give yourself a much better chance of dominating rankings the local 3-pack on Google Maps—and driving more customers to your business as a result! 

Ready to expand your online presence and gather new business traffic using local SEO? Want to rank on Google Maps? 

Schedule a discovery call with us today.

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