What is a Google Maps Pack?

We often talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s the free way to get a page on your website ranked on page one of Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). 

You can also, of course, pay for Google Ads so you achieve the very top spot on SERP. Ads appear under the word “sponsored.” Often, people gaze over ads.

Another way to get featured towards the top of each page of SERP is by getting your store or brand featured in Google Maps. Stores that sell products related to whatever a person searched for often appear here.

Getting featured in  maps is technically part of Google Maps Pack. Appearing in maps can bring people into your store and onto your website. Hopefully, these visits will lead to sales or inquiries.

There are several ways to get your store to appear in Google Maps search results. Typically, Google features three businesses in the Google Maps Pack for search queries relevant to whatever the person needs.


How To Get Featured in Google Maps

To get a spot in Google Maps, you must understand how Google’s local search option works. The Google Maps Pack, also known as the “Google 3 pack ranking, features a set of the most highly ranked businesses based on certain factors that determine local rankings.

Some say getting featured in Google Maps works better than paying for a Google Ad. According to a leading expert, sites listed in Google Maps Pack get 44% of the clicks on any search engine results page.

For example, open a browser and search for “Mexican food.” You’ll immediately see a list of Mexican restaurants located nearby. They are highlighted in a map, under a “near me” heading. 

Usually, the Google Maps Pack results appear first on a page, followed by organic results. Sometimes, you’ll see sponsored results above the maps. But again, the maps draw more visual attention. 

Other results on the page may point to the Google Business Profiles or Google My Business (GMB) listings of highly-rated Japanese restaurants in your neighborhood. They may also lead to third-party listings on local directories and business review sites, such as a Yelp business profile, a Facebook local business Page, or a Tripadvisor listing. 

Google provides crucial information about each of the businesses organically featured in the Google Maps Pack: Google reviews and overall ratings, a short business summary, location address, business hours, price range, and a featured photo on the right side, just to name a few.

The Google local pack is also displayed above traditional text-only or links-based search results, making it one of the most valuable pieces of online real estate across any platform. According to research, the Google Maps Pack grabs as much as 44% of the total clicks on search engine results pages.

You can utilize a local search rank checker to track your local rankings and see whether or not any of your business locations are featured in the Google Maps Pack for relevant search queries.

Google map pack pictures

How Do I Make Sure I am Featured on Google Maps Pack Results? 

The factors and algorithms that determine who is featured in Google Maps Pack are always changing, so there is no surefire way to get your business listed as one of the top three results for all relevant searches. We start our days reading about the latest news of all things related to Google search. That’s why it’s best to let a third party vendor, like SEO Design Chicago, handle SEO and Paid Google Ad strategies for you. Unless you have the time and interest in keeping up with the latest news, you’ll miss when Google executives let trade secrets slip (They sometimes do, and we’re always).

Through slip ups like these, we’ve learned a few tips and tricks over the years that you can take to improve your local search ranking in general on Google, which can improve your chances of being featured in the Maps Pack, as well as attract more searchers and drive more business to your location.


Have a Perfect Google My Business Listing

One of the without-a-doubt ways you can position your business to appear as part of the Google local pack is to claim your business listing on Google and manage your information in your Google Business Profile.

Here are the best ways to maximize your Google My Business Listing:

  1. Use your actual business name. Don’t add extra words like the city you’re in. 
  2. Correct errors or update your contact info, and get rid of any duplicate listings.
  3. Be as detailed as possible when entering your business information. Include your business name, category, map location and service area, phone number, website URL, hours of operation, etc. Google lets you skip these steps, but don’t if you want to get featured. 
  4. Write original and compelling copy for your Google My Business description. Don’t rely on generic language that ChatGPT can write for you. What makes you unique? Capitalize on that. 
  5. Avoid address variations. Meaning: if your location is at “1600 North Albany Avenue,” then stick to that way of spelling it, instead of using, say, “1600 N. Albany St.” 
  6. Use a local number instead of a toll-free number. This means that if you have a cell phone that you use as a business phone, make sure it has a local area code. 
  7. Upload high-quality business photos to enhance the visual appeal of your listing. We offer custom photography packages so that your images are amazing, and also compressed to just the size that Google likes images to be. 

Google Business Profiles or listings that have been claimed and are regularly updated on Google My Business — and which also boast strong Google reviews and ratings — are the ones most likely to rank at the top of local search and be featured in the Google Maps Pack. That said, don’t add fake reviews. Google  can recognize fake reviews or scam fairly easily. The reviews tend to be generic, and all tend to be posted on the same day. Google removes reviews it suspects are fake. 

Ideally, you want your reviews to be real, and all from people who think highly of you. That’s not easy. All business owners know you’ll have an unhappy customer at some point, and sometimes, you haven’t even done anything wrong. You want to try to limit bad reviews. So monitor them. This can take a lot of time, especially during busy seasons. We often monitor and restore online reputations – that’s another one of our services. You can flag inappropriate, fake and unfair reviews for a variety of reasons. Do it. The fewer negative rules you have, the more likely you are to be featured in Google Maps. 

google map business pictures

Encourage Positive Reviews

People depend on online reviews to find businesses from local searches. That’s why reviews are heavily factored into the way Google approaches search and rankings: they act as word-of-mouth recommendations. 

According to online reviews statistics, people don’t really trust businesses with lower than 4-star ratings. 80% of consumers say the star ratings they trust the most are 4.0, 4.5, and 5 stars. That said, some studies have found that when a business has only 5 star reviews, people assume they’re fake. So in an ideal world, you’d want mostly 5 star reviews, and maybe a few 4 star ones that either don’t have any details, or aren’t overly negative. 

A business with more (and better) reviews on Google and other review sites is more likely to be featured in the Google Maps Pack than a business with not many or no reviews. People lllooovvveee  to review businesses they have bad experiences with. It’s a way to vent. You want to encourage people to leave good reviews too. Here are some tactics to try out:


Ask for More Reviews and Respond to Feedback

Generating new reviews is vital. On signs in your store, or as people are checking out, ask them to leave positive Google reviews. This works especially well for small businesses trying to compete with giants. Explain to your customers – in writing and in conversations – that Google reviews are a way to prevent the Walmartization of America. You’d be surprised how many people will pull out their phones then and there to help you.

Google map business ranking pictures

Offer Content with Small Prizes

When your loyal customers have already left you reviews, offer a small incentive for them to post another review. This can include a small prize or a promo code discount. Any contests are subject to local, state and federal laws. So you may want to check you’re following them. We can also handle contests for you. 

Apart from asking for reviews, you should also respond to negative reviews. There’s an art to this, and you must be calm and centered before doing so, especially if you feel the reviewer is unjustified. 

Just responding to a negative review, even if you only say, “Thank you for the feedback” is a powerful indicator to other customers that you care. And that you are somewhat willing to make improvements. 

According to customer reviews research, 53% of people expect a review response within 7 days, but as much as 63% say that they have never heard back from a business after leaving a review. Don’t fight with the person. Either keep it short and sweet, or explain, calmly, what issues may have led to a misunderstanding. Whatever you do, don’t engage in a back and forth. 

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