Google uses the MAP Pack to return results back to you based on your nearness to their location. It displays the location of these results in the form of a map and pulls the top three nearest your location. The MAP Pack is a superb chance to generate tons of calls or website visits, as Google displays a call icon with results if users are on a mobile, or a website icon to desktop or laptop searchers.
There are several key factors you need to optimise if you want to rank well in the MAP Pack.
- Google My Business – Google pulls info from your Google My Business profile to analyse your proximity, categories, and keywords, like the keywords used in your business title. It’s important to put the most important keywords in your title as well as your description. You should also try and keep the photos on your Google My Business profile fresh and updated.
- Links – Google assesses your inbound anchor text, as well as your linking domain authority, and quantity.
- Reviews – Google will look at the quantity and quality of reviews you have, as well as their diversity, and the speed with which you acquire new reviews. Reviews have never been so important to rank well on Google. To put you in 1st position, Google needs to see that your customers are happy, and that you are the right match for local searchers. Google also considers reviews on Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Facebook, as well as Google My Business reviews.
- On-Page – Google reviews your NAP data (Name, Address, Phone Number), looks at the keywords you have in your titles, and assesses your domain authority.
- Citations – Google will analyse your IYP (Internet Yellow Pages) listing, as well as the amount of accurate Name, Address, Phone number citations your business has on other websites.
Google has confirmed that to rank well in the MAP pack, you also need to do well in organic search results. This means you need to score highly on Google’s traditional ranking factors too, so as well as improving your local search markers, you must follow normal good SEO practise as well. To track how you are performing in the Google Map Pack you can use the free tools Local Viking or Local Falcon, which let you get granular with your search results, so you can see where you really rank. This is important, as your MAP Pack ranking can change depending on the information entered, even sometimes from street to street.
More on ranking well in Organic Local Search: If you have a local business, the most important thing to remember is that although you want to rank high in the Map Pack, Organic search is still important. To optimise your organic local search rankings, you need to optimise your normal search ranking too, just as you do if you want to boost your MAP pack ranking. That means you must do all the things you usually would if you were looking to boost to your search results, only with the addition of your location information.
Make sure your website speed and image compression are optimal, your title and metadata are accurate and relevant, and your keywords are carefully chosen. Optimise your website layout so people can easily find the information they need and create high value content with high authority backlinks.
Behavioural signals: When it comes to local search ranking factors, Behavioural signals refer to the data Google collects about the interactions people have with your local brand. Though it may be hard to define exactly what Behavioural Signals impact your Local Search Ranking, they are a vital part of the SEO puzzle, if you want to rise to the very top. It’s estimated that having the right Behavioural Signals contributes an 11% boost to your overall Local Search position.
Behavioural Signals, like the number of check-ins to your business, now play more and more of a role in Google’s Local Search ranking. This is because Google has one of the largest user data collections in the world and it’s using this data to build an improved, more realistic model of Local search, by examining a more accurate picture of brands and searchers, including their offline behaviour. Many Local Search experts believe Google is increasing the importance of Behavioural Signals to its search engine placement, as it creates a more precise picture of brands, based on data collected from real world activity, rather than web pages and text.
It can be tricky to identify every single Behavioural Signal that truly matters to Google’s Local Search Rankings. Even among search professionals there is much debate about which meaningfully impact your score. Despite this, there are some generally agreed upon signals that are widely believed to impact your local search position. By learning what these are, and how you can optimise them, where possible, you can improve and enhance your Local Search Score.
Search Location: Google attributes a higher score to businesses closest to a Searcher’s location. It also applies a relevancy radius to every local business, and this varies in size, depending on sector. Brands like coffee shops and restaurants have a tighter radius, as there is more competition, and so they typically serve a smaller area. A tennis court or cycling park would have a much larger radius, particularly if it’s the only one of its kind around for several miles. If your brand location falls outside the relevancy radius Google assigns you, you will find it more difficult to to be discovered with Google Search. There’s not much you can do to improve this factor if you already have a location, and don’t or can’t move. But if you’re thinking of starting a new business, or moving to a new location, Google’s relevancy radius may be a factor you might want to check and consider.
The number of times people in or near a location search for your brand name is one of the MOST important Behavioural markers for Google, when it comes to Local Search. Businesses that pay attention to both offline and online marketing strategies and keep them consistent, usually fare better in Branded search as many Branded Searches are performed by people who have first heard of you by Word of Mouth, or offline advertising. Because of this, your Branded Search volume provides Google with an excellent snapshot of how popular your business is in the Real World.
To increase your branded search score, you need to first increase your businesses offline visibility, so people hear about you and then get online to find out more. Hosting special community events, or nights, putting up posters, or sending direct mail flyers could all encourage local searches for your brand. The best strategy is to create great products and services that people will LOVE, so they tell others and spread the word about your brand. You can also help get the message out by letting people trial your products or sample your service for free and can hand out samples in your local high street, or location, or pass out discount cards or flyers.