How do I improve my Google Map Pack Ranking ?
Improving Google Map Pack Ranking
The first thing to understand is that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to search engine optimization, and exactly the same can be said for Google Map Pack Rankings. You will find endless blog posts regurgitating the same theories about blogging, posting on your Google My Business page, securing Google reviews etc etc. The truth is, no one other than Google really knows, all they can say is that there appears to be a correlation between a certain action and a certain effect.
So what do you do ?
If you change nothing, nothing will change ...
Start at the Google Maps source ... Google
If you type in the search term " how do I improve my Google map pack ranking " Google will provide you with over 16 million sources of information to choose from ... a sleepless night ahead! However Google does provide information about what you need to do .. which has spawned a thousand blog posts. The source information can be found here:
The Google article provides common sense advice relating to your Google My Business listing such as:
Enter complete data about your business including:
Verify your locations
The process of adding, claiming and verifying your business on Google My Business is covered here >
Keep your hours accurate
Manage and respond to reviews
These relate to reviews left on your Google My Business listing
The article proceeds to inform us how Google determines which local results are to be shown, and lists the three key indicators of:
How well a local Business Profile matches what is being searched for
How far each potential search result is from the location term used in the search, or if no locality was specified, the distance from your I.P. address is used
How well known your business is, either as a physical address and/or what information Google has on your business from across the web, including news articles, links and directories.
Relevance - Distance - Prominence
Google My Business Listing - Relevance
Your Google My Business Listing is of prime importance here, ensure that all the details are filled out correctly and use the opportunity to write the content with your keyword phrases in mind.
Include keyword phrases you wish to be found for in your content, description, and products and services.
Add pictures - make your Google My Business listing look interesting
Refer back to your website with links as often as you can. Products, services and posts have a "read more" buttons to enable you to link to individual pages on your website, not just your home page.
Don't just link to your website home page, link to an optimized page on your website that focuses on the search terms you are linking from and to, for example the search term " web design Farnborough " should be linked to the page that is optimized for this search term.
Search for your chosen keyword phrase and check your competitors who rank above you in Google Map Pack for their chosen category. Consider if this is more appropriate for your business than the one you have chosen in your Google My Business listing. Their category is displayed next to the number of Google reviews
Google My Business Listing - Distance
The one thing that you just cant change is where you are physically located, and local search results depend heavily on either the location you have specified in your Google account, or the IP address used by your internet service provider. The only thing you can do is make sure that your Google My Business listing accurately reflects your company address, and that it contains your location search keyword phrases.
Search terms for towns within a mile of physical location
Google My Business listing not optimized to show in the search term web design Blackwater, however Google shows the strong correlation with the address on the listing.
Search terms for towns more than a mile of physical location
The above results for web design in various locations may seem to indicate that the effort required may outweigh the rewards achieved, however you should rather view it as an opportunity to generate quality content targeted at the search terms that you need to be found for in the locations of interest.
Google My Business Listing - Prominence
This is where the majority of the local SEO activity is centred, how well your business is known throughout the internet (as you are probably unlikely to be a major local attraction ... ). Increasing your prominence is long haul activity, to be built up over months so that the activity does not appear "spammy". You may want to go from 40th position to number 1 over night, but Google would treat this as suspicious if everything appeared all at once, and your position at the top of the pile is likely to be transitory.
Google My Business provides a free local citation website which will not compete with your primary website but pulls all the information from your Google My Business listing automatically and provides a link back to your website. It wont be the prettiest website in the world, but it does allow you to present all the information in your Google My
Business listing in a different way automatically, and gain local citation links back to your website.
Build up your Google Reviews - Google wants to provide good quality search results, which for local search implies good reviews and a good reputation.
Build up your other citation opportunities, these include business directories, blogging platforms, news feeds and other websites. Try and ensure that a significant proportion of these have high domain authority and that you build up a link profile that has both follow and no follow links.
Post regularly on your Google My Business listing, and link the post to the appropriate page on your website (use the blogging facility to add content that may not fit logically into the main website structure). This not only builds content on your website which is good for SEO in general if done correctly, but also signals to Google that you are an active business in your field.
Why should I spend time adding all this content if distance is a prime consideration?
As was stated at the beginning of this post:
If you change nothing, nothing will change ...
... and no one outside of Google really knows how the Google algorithms work. All that can be said with certainty is that the more consistent focused optimization that is performed on your Google My Business listing AND your website the more likely your business is to be found for your chosen keyword phrases in the local area.
The 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey Analysis
Smoke and mirrors ... as stated in the introduction, SEO is not a precise science, unlike mathematics where you can say with certainty that 5 + 7 = 12 and if I replace the 5 with a 6 then the result is 13. With SEO it is more what have been the observable effects of a course of action over a period of time observed by those who are engaged in the process.
To this end, Whitespark have published their 2020 Local Search Ranking Factor Survey which summarizes the responses from a number of "SEO Experts" and details how they think the local pack / finder rankings were rated in 2020.
Local Pack/Finder Ranking Factors
Localized Organic Ranking Factors
Is there proof that local SEO works ?
Empirical evidence confirms that by consistently doing the things detailed above over a four week period, search term rankings improve, back links and referring domains increase in number.
What has been achieved is a start and improvements in position can be seen in the primary focus keyword search term, however rankings need to significantly change for the other search terms of interest, and it is a daily, time consuming process, but if the coveted first page is your goal then it is worth it.
Without a structured approach to SEO, your website will possibly languish on page 4 or 5 of Google for your search terms, and your nice new website will never be found.
Reports from SE Ranking software showing improvement over a four week period.
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