More small Filipino businesses are now investing in search engine optimization (SEO) to give them an advantage over their local competitors. While SEO activities like technical SEO, and link building can help your local business get to the top of Google’s organic search results, one underutilized method for ramping up local customer interest is through the Google Maps Pack.
What’s the Google Maps Pack? Why Do You Need It?
The Google Maps Pack (also known as the “Map Pack”, “Google local pack” or the “Google 3 pack ranking,”) is, without a doubt the most important position in localized Google searches.
When potential customers use Google to search for a local business, chances are that they will be given a search result that contains a map and three highlighted Google Maps-based search results. Whenever the Google Maps Pack is present, it will soak up a huge proportion of all clicks.
In practical terms, being visible on the Google Maps Pack can be more important for local SEO than ranking #1 for the organic search results, particularly for a local business. As we will discuss later, however, ranking well for organic search may help your position on the Google Maps Pack as well.
So, just how do you rank for the Google Maps Packs? This is is how we usually do it:
1.) Claim Your Google Business Profile
The first thing you’ll have to do is to claim your Google Business profile. Formerly known as Google My Business (GMB), Google Business is where businesses and other organizations can create listings to boost their visibility on the search platform.
Having a Google Business profile allows you to add and change your visible business details and, most importantly, makes it possible for your business to be found on the Google Maps Pack.
When claiming your profile, carefully fill in all the requested details. Google will then send a physical postcard with a verification code to your given address to ensure that your business is located where you claim it is. Once you have the code, you may then confirm your profile and complete the rest of the process.
2.) Fill Out ALL the Fields
Make sure to accurately fill out every single field, if possible. Pay special attention to your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). When possible, use a current landline number to further confirm your business location to Google through the area and country code. Don’t forget to fill out every last detail of your address.
From here, you should be able to adjust your location pin on Google Maps as needed. In most cases, the pin will be in the wrong place, so carefully relocate it so that it accurately reflects your business’s true location.
Don’t forget to select the correct business category and add your real opening hours as well. To further increase your visibility, upload recent original images of your business’s exterior. Original, high-quality images are may send positive signals to Google and they also will make it easier for customers to find your business.
3.) Use Consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
Make sure to be consistent with your NAP on your own website as well as on other places where your business is mentioned. This will help Google make a stronger association between your Google Business listing and these other sites, further strengthening your online identity.
Pay special attention to local citations such as local news sites, business directories, and review sites. If you can edit your NAP on those to exactly match your Google Business profile details, make sure to do so.
4.) Gather as Many Local Citations as You Can
As with backlinks, the more local citations of your website, the better. Try to have a profile on the Yellow Pages, LinkedIn, Yelp, and local business directories. Make sure your exact NAP is properly written on all those platforms. Make sure to also localize your Facebook Business profile and other social media pages correctly.
If you’re not sure where to find relevant local citation sources, please check out this resource: Local Citation Sources and Business Directories in the Philippines
5.) Optimize Your Website for SEO
It’s unlikely that Google will give your business high visibility on the Google Maps Pack if you don’t have a legitimate-looking website connected to your Google Business profile.
Apart from applying relevant technical SEO, on-page SEO, and link building activities, you also want to make sure that your content is properly localized. Use local languages, dialects, and word choices when relevant. This will send signals to Google that you have a legit local business.
6.) Build Localized Backlinks
When possible, you’ll want your main site to have backlinks to sites associated with your location. Be sure to prioritize local sites for your link building efforts to further help Google connect your business to your geographic area.
You probably already have some local link building options available to you. You can ask friends, family members, and business contacts with websites for backlinks to your business.
You can also try tie-ups and cross-promotions to further incentivize other local entities to link to your business website. Of course, you should also try standard link building practices like guest posting, press releases, sponsorships, and the like.
7.) Encourage Happy Customers to Leave You Reviews
To further reinforce your presence on the Google Maps Pack, you’ll want to have reviews on Google Business and other relevant review sites. These reviews will help Google understand if it should recommend your business in local searches.
In the Philippine context, getting reviews can be tricky as most customers will not leave reviews unless they are particularly displeased with your service. To maintain a good ratio of high ratings, you’ll have to encourage happy customers to leave you legitimate reviews.
Customers can leave reviews for your business on Google Business, Facebook, Yelp, or other relevant sites. Do not try to fake the reviews or coach customers to leave high ratings as Google has a low tolerance for reviews it deems fraudulent.
Here at SearchWorks, we’ve tried giving incentives to customers to leave any kind of review, negative or positive. In terms of better Google Maps visibility, simply having any kind of review is its own reward.
8.) Set Your Driving Directions on Google Maps
When possible, you’ll want to set the driving directions to your location on Google Maps. Generally, the more people who can set directions to your business location, the better.
Setting Google Maps driving directions to your location will do two things. First, it will help customers find your location when they’re mobile — which is when they are most likely to use Google Maps. Second, when people set directions to your location it sends positive search signals to Google that will help with your Google Maps visibility.
To further reiterate — Do not forget to input the exact NAP that you have on your Google Business profile. Likewise, make sure that the location pin is set correctly as well.
9.) Have Someone Test-Dial Your Google Business Phone Number
Once you have claimed your Google Business profile, you’ll want to make sure that the displayed phone number can actually be reached. Potential customers may try to reach you by clicking or tapping on the displayed phone number and you want to make sure that this number will allow them to contact your business.
By testing the phone number, you can prevent negative customer experiences and send a positive search signal to Google that indicates you are running a legitimate business.
If you have a local business that caters primarily to people in one geographic area, ranking on the Google Maps Pack should be a top priority.
While it could be challenging, optimizing for the Maps Pack is one of the best ways to draw nearby customers, particularly ones who may not be familiar with the neighborhood. Because the Maps Pack draws so much attention in Google search results pages, placing in the top 3 will almost certainly guarantee your business a boost in visibility and customers.