Ranking higher in the Map Pack has become a priority in the past year. What does the ‘Map Pack’ mean? It means that nowadays, before you see organic search results, you often see a map with three companies, typically with business contact details and star ratings. At least, today at the time of writing this, that is what you see – it may change any day now, as Google seems to be speeding up their changes to what they choose to display to searchers. Look out for our upcoming article on Featured Snippets to see what I mean.
But, back to how to rank in the map results, a few things.
First, you want to set up your Google My Business listing correctly. Take your time to go through each and every clickable link you can see and add content to it. Your location, images of your company’s offices, your staff, you at work, your logo, even videos; I am unsure how important the quality of the media is just yet but one thing I do is Geotag each and every single one in the city I am trying to rank clients for, meaning it has a GPS-coordinate associated with it. Then, I name the images with keywords I would generally use as ranking keywords on the actual site. And sneakily, I insert those self same keywords (in varying forms) into the meta description of the images or videos too. Meta information helps the Google bots to comprehend what the media actually is – instead of just reading “Image0045.jpg” it can actually fathom a little more out of it. Last, I am going to “drip-feed” them, meaning I will upload images every week or so, making it appear more natural. Again, no real proof this is better practice, but when in doubt, do what would be more natural.
Secondly, you want to embed maps on maps.google.com and include driving directions to the offices from as many places as you have patience to do for. To see an example of this, see what I did for a client in London. I made a ring of driving directions around his location, again using images and a video. The idea being over time (2-3 months) Google picks them all up and ranks the site higher. See the huge ring of links here. It took quite a while to do but it should help cement the site as #1 in Maps, depending on competition obviously. Why is this of worth? Well, Google loves content and always has and will (I hope!) and essentially I am using their applications and providing something of use to users. Who would say driving directions are not helpful? And that is a good lesson to learn regarding SEO: are you providing value? Is the website better because of your work? Do users have a better time on the site now?
Thirdly, look up the suburb names of the area you are in and insert those words into your content. Imagine you are doing it for London. Wimbledon, Fulham, Chelsea, Clapham, Covent Garden, etc etc – add as many as you can in relevant places across your website. You can even do a dedicated page showing all the places you service. While doing it, don’t go about it in a keyword stuffing/spammy type of way, rather always design and build your site in a way that you’d want to experience other sites – a bit like the golden rule, except, just for the web. Google picks up on dodgy tactics, so keep that in mind.
Fourthly, once the above is done, a long-term and at times seemingly slow and fruitless exercise is asking for Google reviews. You want to do this occasionally – perhaps do it once a month or so, else it looks odd to Google – and slowly build up your reviews. It will certainly depend on your industry but if you get 50 new clients a month, then mail all fifty. Quite a few won’t have Google accounts, meaning they can’t review you, and the ones who do often couldn’t be bothered. Thankfully the ones who do go through with it are generally the nice type of folk who’d say something useful and polite.
Fifthly, ensure you have the same info on your Google My Business account as you do on the website. You want to have perfectly similar “NAP’s” – A NAP stands for: Name, Address, Phone Number. In normal text that Google can crawl, we want this listed on the contact page as it is on Google My Business. So, for an example in Cape Town, it could be
Name: Mike’s Fish Shoppe
Address: 111 Main Rd, Newlands, Cape Town, 7700
Phone: 021 234 5678
Lastly, keep up with the changes, read forums, see what competitors do that you don’t, test the SERP’s (see who ranks best, and work out why), and schedule a time every month to check on it. I also include it in my reporting for clients so that we can see change over time. The Map Pack is key!