7 Ways to Rank Higher on Google Maps in 2020
What if I told you that your local business can show up higher than a national business in Google search results?
That may seem crazy, but for local businesses, one of the best ways to compete in Google search engine results is to rank higher in Google maps by showing up in the Google Local 3-Pack.
Being local gives your business an advantage over larger companies that have no local presence because you can rank higher in Google maps than a national business.
Google My Business Ranking is a Secret Weapon for Local Businesses
If you can get your business into the Google Local 3-Pack, it's a shortcut to Page 1 of Google search engine results.
We'll show you the first steps to take.
Table of Contents
- What is the Google Local 3-Pack?
7 Ways to Rank Higher on Google Maps
- Claim or Create your Google My Business Listing & Verify It
- Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
- Get Involved with Reviews
- Invest in Growing Your Organic Visibility
- Upload Photos to Google My Business Regularly
- Use Google My Business Posts to Increase Click Through Rate
- Use Structured Data / Schema Markup
- What to do if your market is very competitive
What is the Google Local 3-Pack?
If you type ‘restaurants’ into Google right now, you will get a list of restaurants in your area of town….the restaurants most relevant to you geographically. These listings are at the top of the page in a special list accompanied by a map.
When does the Local 3-Pack show up?
Any time that Google determines a search has 'local intent', it will show a Local 3-Pack at the top of the results page.
How does Google determine if a search has local intent?
Google hasn't published a definitive list, but generally speaking, the following types of searches have local intent:
- Search phrases that contain a geographic reference such as a city name or zip code (like "Web Design in Alpharetta")
- Search terms that contain the phrase "near me" or similar
- Searches for services that are typically fulfilled by a local business (like "bakery" or "yoga studio")
Google Local 3-Pack SEO can Yield Results Faster Than Organic Alone
When trying to prioritize a digital marketing budget, it can be difficult to know where to focus your efforts.
SEO is a long game, but for local businesses, getting your Google My Business (GMB) profile can be low-hanging fruit.
1. Do this first: Claim or Create Your Google My Business Profile & Verify It
Before you can show up in the 3-Pack, you have to have a Google My Business profile. If you aren't sure if you do or don't, it's easy to check if one already exists.
The video below explains how to claim or create your Google My Business profile.
Don't wait to do this....sometimes the verification process can take a while. As soon as you have the permanent local phone number and address for your business, proceed.
2. Optimize Your GMB Profile
Just claiming your profile won't be enough to make your business start appearing in the 3-Pack. We recommend improving your business information as much as possible:
- Enter complete and accurate data on your profile including relevant categories.
- Describe your business by entering unique and valuable information about it.
- Verify your business (see video below)
- Keep your hours accurate.
3. Get Involved with Reviews on Your GMB Profile
- Ask for them from satisfied customers and clients
- Respond to them regularly
- Try to see if you can find ways to have reviewers use keywords and city names in their reviews.
I love this one because for most local businesses it has HUGE impact and you don't need any technical help or advice to get it done.
In the recent study of Local Ranking Factors by Local SEO Guide, of the "ordinal variables", variables related to reviews comprise roughly 70% of the top 20 correlations. Focus on creating a standardized way of asking for reviews, preferably reviews that mention your keywords and location.
Our Local Resources Page includes some links to resources to help you in your quest to ask for reviews.
4. Invest in Growing Your Organic Visibility
Local SEO Guide recommends making sure that your owned assets (primarily your website), are "killing it". This means that plenty of factors such as links and organic ranking of your website correlate very highly with positive Google local 3-pack performance.
5. Upload Photos to Google My Business Regularly
According to Google, "businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don't have photos."
6. Use Google My Business Posts to increase Click Through Rate
...which in turn may have impact on your rankings. Currently, according to Joy Hawkins at Sterling Sky, Google My Business posts aren't shown to have a direct affect on ranking higher for certain keywords, but they can affect click through rate when a 'highlight' from a post is included in the 3 Pack.
7. Use Structured Data / Schema Mark Up on Your Website
Structured Data is standardized metadata which can be used to provide specific details about your website, content, and business to help Google and search engines explicitly understand important information about your business. The most basic use of structured data is to use it to communicate accurate Name, Address and Phone (NAP) information about your business.
What to do if Your Market or Vertical is Really Competitive
Certain markets and verticals are highly competitive... where the 3-pack is already full of heavily reviewed local businesses. In these cases, just publishing and optimizing your Google My Business profile will likely not be enough to get your business in the 3-pack for competitive search terms.
There is no easy fix for this situation except to really step up your organic SEO game.
Local SEO works hand-in-hand with Organic SEO. You will get the best results by having a website that ranks well.
In the same Local SEO Guide study of Local SEO Ranking Signals, the "categorical" variables show that the Organic Ranking of a website has the 3rd highest correlation to Local 3-Pack rankings.
Some Final Thoughts to Consider (from the experts)
1) Make sure your owned assets, like your website, are killing it. Lots of factors like links, organic ranking etc show very high correlation with positive local pack performance. Invest there.
2) Even though GMB doesn’t have a lot of levers a business owner/marketer can pull, reviews are a huge one. If you aren’t focusing on a review program and working on testing how to get keywords, cities etc in reviews you are gonna be far behind. Like getting involved in your link profile years late kinda behind.