Local SEO: 7 Strategies to Conquer the Map Pack
Securing a spot in Google’s Map Pack is a feat worth celebrating for any business. The good news is there are steps you can take to improve your website for local SEO and pave the way to those coveted positions.
Unclear on the power of the Map Pack and why it warrants your attention? Visit Part 1 of Local SEO: Meet the Map Pack.
Part 2: Local SEO: How to Get Your Business in Google's Map Pack
Google considers various ranking factors when determining which businesses earn the sought-after Map Pack spots. Whitespark has outlined the most significant factors and their respective weights for 2023, giving us a strong foundation to build a local SEO strategy to earn your business a seat at the cool kid’s table this year.
1. Curate a Killer Google Business Profile
A whopping 32% of Google’s local ranking is influenced by your Google Business Profile (GBP), so cultivating an accurate and comprehensive profile is the first step to a successful local SEO strategy.
There are a few things to keep in mind here:
Ensure consistent spelling across your profile
Select enticing on-brand imagery
Use benefit-led copy in your business description
Include detailed, accurate information
Select thoughtful primary and secondary categories
To expand upon the last point, it’s crucial to be precise when choosing your primary category. There are thousands to choose from, so it’s important to intentionally select one that aligns with the goals of your business and what searches you want to rank for.
You can then select any additional secondary categories to support the primary category and add context, effectively optimizing your Google Business Profile. Category options are updated regularly, so check back frequently and maintain accurate categories on your profile.
Tip time: You can sneak a peek at your competitors’ categories to use as a reference point for your own.
1. Click on their Google Business Profile
2. Right-click and select “View Source”
3. Ctrl-F or ⌘-F (Mac) and enter their primary category, which is listed on their GBP. Any additional phrases after the primary category are secondary categories!
Building a strong GBP isn’t complicated or time-consuming – the secret lies in maintenance and ensuring that it always remains accurate and optimized.
2. Optimize with On-Page Signals
On-page signals account for just under 20% of your Map Pack ranking, so they deserve their fair share of attention.
At the top of the list is your webpage title tag. Your title tag acts as a descriptor and a differentiator for a webpage, telling Google exactly what makes your webpage unique within the context of your website and when compared to other search results.
Using relevant and descriptive title tags is essential to earning a spot in Google’s top three local search results.
You also want to make sure that your business name, address, social media links, and phone number are present and accurate on all pages of your website, and that those relevant keywords are incorporated into your website copy.
3. Get Rave Reviews
Reviews are important for a variety of reasons. More than just opinions, they give you direct insights into your consumers and their satisfaction!
The more reviews you receive the more data is available to analyze, and you can use that information to look for trends and pinpoint areas for improvement in your business operations. Reviews offer a no-nonsense critique of your strengths and weaknesses as a business.
They also play a substantial role when it comes to local SEO rankings. Businesses with a diverse and abundant collection of reviews are viewed more favourably by Google, and therefore more likely to earn a position in the Map Pack.
Some of the most important review factors include:
How many reviews your business has
How frequently your business receives reviews
The source of the reviews – do they include first-party reviews (on your own website) as well as third-party reviews from other websites like Google?
Are those third-party sources diverse (including Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Skip the Dishes, DoorDash, etc.)?
Encourage your clients to leave reviews not only to gain insightful feedback but also to improve your local SEO!
4. Get Lucky with Links
Okay so maybe it’s not exactly luck, but links are another important element when it comes to a strong local SEO strategy.
Think of it this way – if someone is constantly talking about how great they are, that’s mildly convincing at best. But if an entire community of respectable individuals are willing to vouch for them? That’s far more validating.
This is where backlinking comes in. It’s a way of building a positive reputation for your business based on the references of others, and it can have a profound effect on your local SEO ranking.
Check out our What the Heck is SEO? blog for a more in-depth look at backlinking and its importance from an SEO perspective.
Both inbound and outbound links play a role in your SEO ranking, and the quality and volume of those links are both taken into account.
Domain authority is huge when it comes to linking, and for good reason – would you be more likely to trust the word of a trusted expert or that of a random person you pass by as you shop for groceries?
Links to and from reputable, authoritative sources shouldn’t be overlooked in the local SEO game. This requires networking with other leaders in your industry, building virtual relationships, and actively seeking to be included in relevant blogs and articles in order to develop a robust collection of high-quality backlinks. That way, you have a whole community of trustworthy sources supporting you when Google decides its rankings.
5. Benefit from Behavourial Signals
Google’s Map Pack is determined in part by behavioural signals. These include things like click-through rate (CTR), bounce rate, time spent on a page, and mobile clicks to call.
You have a few techniques at your disposal to improve your website’s behavioural performance. For instance, you can strengthen your title tags and craft specific meta descriptions that set you apart and improve your CTR.
Content marketing strategies can help you to attract a larger audience to your website, keep them engaged for longer, and prompt them to take action.
Your website’s accessibility plays a role as well, as a website that is easy to read and navigate will yield a stronger behavioural performance. You also have the option of creating enticing offers and promotions alongside quality content to further increase interactions with your website.
6. Create Consistent Citations
With regards to local SEO, citations are mentions of your business name, address, or phone number (aka NAP) on websites other than your own.
Accurate listings across online business directories help to build citations, as well as customers “checking in” to a business online or tagging a business in a photo.
Establishing your business across platforms like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo, and Better Business Bureau will help to build your citations and therefore your local ranking.
Social media is an invaluable tool when it comes to citations and SEO as well.
Businesses can further improve citations by regularly uploading brand images with keyword-optimized alt text, and encouraging customers to interact with the business online and tag them in their own social media posts.
7. Perfect Personalization
Finally, the last factor of your local SERP position is personalization. This refers to how unique your website is in Google’s eyes.
This really all comes down to effective marketing, SEO-rich copywriting, on-brand photography, and investment in strategic website design. It’s about making sure the business stands out from the competition.
There’s a lot that goes into a local SEO strategy, and it is no simple feat to crack the top 3 results and appear in the Google Map Pack. However, with dedication and the right approach, the Map Pack is well within reach!