Many of us are familiar with the so-called “map pack” or “snack pack” on Google.  In the past year, the map pack list was reduced from seven to three, making it more competitive.  Therefore, a question that may be asked is: what exactly is required to gain one of the three coveted positions? Here are some of the best practices, newer discoveries, and top-ranking factors to consider.

Firstly, let us discuss what Google has described as basic guidelines.

  • You should choose a name that is consistent with the name your business uses on its storefront, website, and business cards, and that is known to your customers.
  • Make sure to use a local number instead of a toll-free number.
  • Provide the most accurate, precise address you can. Do not use PO boxes.
  • Let your customers know what your business hours are.
  • Describe your business with as few categories as possible. Try to be as precise as possible.
  • Names and brands: Keep them consistent. Each location must have the same name unless the real name varies from location to location.
  • For practitioners with public-facing roles, only create a page if they can be reached directly at the location. Avoid creating multiple pages under different categories.

Let’s take a look at some of the top-ranking factors for the map pack:

  • Physical address in the city where the search is taking place
  • The proximity of the address to the location of the search
  • Citation consistency
  • Citations earned by quality and authority
  • An appropriate category association
  • The domain authority
  • Address on site matches address on Google My Business page
  • The Google My Business page links to the city and state listed on the landing page
  • Incorporate product/service keywords in your GMB business title
  • CTR from search results

Google My Business Page: Other factors to consider

  1. Google returns results based on the location of the searcher. The chances of consistently scoring in the three-pack are less likely if you’re not located close to the searcher.  The results will change based on where you tell Google you are located or where you want to search from as you move your cursor around in the maps section in Google.
  2. These three map listings are ranked according to user behavior, including those on the map pack. Because of this, rankings can fluctuate according to your industry from day to day or on certain days of the week based on search patterns.
  3. There have been many changes to the look and feel of Google My Business pages recently. Accessing the website from the page now requires two steps. When a viewer clicks on a listing, they can obtain information such as Name, Category, Address, Phone Number, Hours, Reviews, Street View, and Photos. However, the description is no longer displayed.
  4. Conversions are affected by reviews. For your Google My Business listing to show up, you need at least five reviews. To achieve a perfect 5.0 rating, you need ten reviews with five stars.  Review scores don’t always correlate with how well you rank in the map pack, but they influence the number of clicks you get to your website from that page and the number of phone calls you get.
  5. Google appears to be transitioning all G+ pages to Google Maps. Instead of going to Google Plus pages, users are now redirected to Google Maps listings.  In such a case, it can create problems if you intend to have customers leave reviews through the Google Plus link.  A new suggestion is to send them a link to the Google Maps listing of your business.

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