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  • Writer's pictureJessica Plant

Local SEO: Meet the Map Pack

It goes by many names: the Map Pack, the 3-Pack, the Snack Pack, the Local Pack... but what are we talking about exactly?

A mobile device open to Google Maps, depicting local SEO strategies

Part 1: What is the Google Map Pack?

All of these terms are used to refer to the top three search results that show up when you conduct a local search for businesses on Google. They’re the results that appear beside the map (or just below it on mobile devices) before the organic search results.

As the map implies, these results have a geographic component to them, and the practice of optimizing your website to appear in the map pack is referred to as local SEO.

An infographic that shows where the Google Map Pack lives in SERP

Why Bother with Local SEO?

If you’re unsure why to bother with SEO in general, it’s best, to begin with, our previous post for a broad understanding.

All caught up? Fantastic!

So, why local SEO? It’s used to optimize a website to increase its visibility in local search results, and it’s especially important for smaller businesses looking to do business with customers in specific geographic locations.

If you think about it, you likely rely heavily on local results as a consumer yourself. Have you ever been out on a brisk day and in desperate need of a nice warm mug? You probably pulled out your phone and searched for “cafés near me.” Or maybe your faucet sprang a leak, prompting you to frantically search for “plumbers in [city].”

And you’re not the only one.

As of 2020, searches for “local” + “business” have increased by over 80% year-over-year.

Results displayed in the Map Pack are visually differentiated from the remainder of the search results, and they include more information: the location of the business, reviews and ratings, hours of operation, and their address. These results are also accompanied by two buttons which allow users to go directly to the business’s website or find directions through Google Maps.

How Do Local SEO Rankings Work?

Data shows that businesses who rank in the local pack receive 5x the views and 2x the actions as businesses in the organic results. This means that local SEO presents a gigantic opportunity for businesses looking to connect with consumers in their locale.

However, it’s not without stiff competition. Since Google prioritizes the Map Pack results above traditional organic search results, those top three positions are highly coveted and therefore, highly competitive.

In other words, the Map Pack is the cool kids’ table, and you’re just dying to get a seat (and for good reason!).

Your position on the search engine results page (SERP) is crucial to the success of your website and your business as a whole. Did you know that more than 50% of all clicks happen above the fold?

An infographic that shows that more than 50% of clicks happen above the fold

Note: “Above the fold” refers to the content on the upper half of a webpage that’s visible without having to scroll.

It comes from the days of broadsheet newspapers, referencing the coveted top half of the front page that’s visible while the paper is folded!

Since the Map Pack is such a powerful position to occupy, Google sifts through businesses and applies rankings to display only the highest quality options in the Map Pack. That’s where local SEO comes into play.

It’s important to understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to cracking the local SEO code. Google’s local search algorithm undergoes frequent changes, and it’s not entirely transparent.

Unless you’ve got a mole inside the Google headquarters, you’ll likely have to rely on expert research, observed trends, and good old-fashioned trial and error to truly master the Map Pack. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re completely in the dark when it comes to local SEO.

Now that we’ve got a solid understanding of local SEO and why it deserves the time of day, we’ll explore exactly how you can optimize your website to land one of those coveted Map Pack spots.


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