Getting into the Map Pack is an exciting accomplishment for any business. But what is it? And why should ranking in the Map Pack be your goal?
What is the Map Pack?
The Map Pack is the top 3 listings on search engine results pages (SERPs) on Google for your local area and industry. These listings are featured prominently, highlighted with an image, and placed on a Google map for the convenience of the searcher. Ranking in the Map Pack increases your website’s visibility and credibility, resulting in a lot more traffic–which means a lot more business.
However, unless business owners (A) claim their free business listing on Google My Business (GMB) and (B) do what is needed to get into the top 3, they will lose money!
Any effort to get into the top 3 — the Map Pack, as it’s known — is Local SEO or local optimization.
Google displays the Map Pack for all common business types or industries. More importantly, 40% of all clicks from local searches end up clicking on these 3 listings. And that is still not the whole story.
If you add the clicks on the map itself and the “more businesses” button (located under the map pack), the number of prospects that click on a business listing in Google climbs even higher.
In fact, approximately 20% will click on the top-ranked website, while roughly half of the local searches end up with a click on a Local Business Listing!
Potential Loss of New Business
In Toronto, where we are, these are some local search numbers multiplied by 40% to show the potential loss of prospects if you do not get into the Map Pack:
- Hotel Toronto; is a possible loss of up to 36,000 guests a month (this does not include “hotel near me” and other searches)
- Real Estate Agency Toronto; a loss of up to 640 prospective house buyers or sellers per month (this does not include searches like “real estate for sale Toronto” or “real estate for sale near me”)
- SEO Toronto; a loss of up to 480 business owners or executives who need SEO services (there are many variations on this search too, which raises the number of potential prospects being lost)
- Cars Toronto; a loss of up to 3,200 car buyers/month
- Doctor Toronto; a loss of up to 190 patients/month, but that is just for one type of search (see below)
Take the search for Doctor Toronto; more people search Google for a doctor in Toronto than just 190 a month.
Doctor Toronto is not the only search type conducted for this local service. Many searches are done for Doctor near me and Doctor near me accepting new patients.
All of the above searches that seek to find a Doctor display the Map Pack plus Google Maps, which contains placeholders for Doctors with a Google My Business listing.
The numbers are far more significant when you include the above, but that is still not it. There’s more!
Other searches, such as Doctor walk in or Doctor walk in clinic add to the number of searches looking for a Doctor. And because people are starting to know the advanced uses of Google’s local searches for (GMB) business listings, the search numbers are even higher.
For instance, the search for Doctor walk in clinic open now filters the results of a search showing businesses with the hours within their business listing that indicate they are currently open.
Google has gotten smart. But this is only because they could see how people were conducting searches. And we know smart lazy people don’t want to look through business listings to find open businesses if Google tells them that automatically.
Remember, if your business is in Scarborough (the east part of Toronto), any search done by someone there doesn’t display in the Map Pack any company in the same industry that’s located in Rexdale (a neighbourhood in the northwest part of Toronto), which is a 45-minute drive away.
Interestingly, a real estate website in North Toronto (mentioned later) competes with websites in the same industry in Scarborough but not in the local search section or Map Pack. And that is why Local SEO and GMB are so important, as Google introduced the Map Pack to eliminate this competition for you!
By “eliminate,” we are only talking about half of all local searches, but I will take it. How about you?
This way, no business competes with all the companies in their industry in the big city. They only go toe to toe with the ones that are local and relevant.
If the above did not prove that the loss of new business is staggering for companies not paying attention to Local SEO and getting in the Map Pack, look at this. In fact, about 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.
In Toronto & the surrounding area (greater Toronto area or GTA), there are roughly 5 million people. If 4 out of 5 did a local search this year that resulted in a local transaction, businesses who do not claim a Google My Business listing are ignoring their share of 4 million buyers!
Claiming it is only the first step, but you should now see my point. GMB and Local SEO are serious money makers!
The good news? Even businesses that made an effort to rank their site do not know to optimize Local SEO, even if they did claim their free Business Listing.
The door is wide open!
Local Search Results & the Map Pack
The images below show what percentages of local search clicks benefit which business. In this case, that search was for real estate agencies Toronto.
Please note that we have split a screenshot taken on my mobile device into 4 images that are sections of interest to prospects and those trying to learn why Local SEO is critical.
The smaller images are easier to load and view too. And, page local time affects page score (SEO).
Each image has overlays with stats to define or label what you need to know. This will make it easy for you to understand what’s at stake and why Local SEO makes so much sense.
Understanding the significance of Local Searches and the Map Pack doesn’t take long.
The 4 images above represent an entire Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for a local search done on and displayed by a mobile phone (far more commonly used than desktop). In other words, the 4 images above are what you would see on your phone if you were sitting where I am in Toronto, and you did that search.
The SERP does have click-throughs for more Google My Business listings and more Organic results (websites), but the above is what you would see without clicking on anything and by merely scrolling down.
The traffic from these searches (think prospects) breaks down approximately as follows:
- At the top, below the search, are the PPC ads. They receive about 10% of clicks.
- Then comes the Google Map, complete with placeholders for the Map Pack (top 3 local businesses). The Google Map itself gets 2% of clicks.
- Then the Map Pack, with 3 listings (usually) that benefit from 40% of clicks.
- Then the MORE BUSINESSES button, when clicked, displays more Google My Business (GMB) listings. This includes those in the Map Pack and other businesses that did not make the top 3. Together these receive 8% of local search clicks.
- And, below the Map Pack, you see the Organic Results (websites) that receive 30% of clicks (with the highest percentage going to the #1 ranked site).
- At the bottom of the page is a pagination feature. About 10% of people pass the PPC and the Map Pack and use the pagination feature in Google to find other websites (the top 10 appear in the organic listing). This includes Page 2 of the SERPs and every other page (each display 10 more websites).
The #1 ranked website receives 20% of clicks roughly, which is two-thirds of the 30% that click through on any of the Organic Results. From there, the percentage of clicks drops dramatically for each organic listing from the #2 site to #3 and so on.
If you are following this, 42% of local searches end up clicking a listing on the Map or choosing one of the 3 in the Map Pack. An additional 8% click on another GMB listing that is not in the Map Pack. As I said before, this means half of all the prospective new business searches for local businesses end up at a GMB listing in one of three ways.
Google my Business listings get 50% of all clicks. The next nearest is the #1 ranked website, getting only 20% of local search clicks. Can you see why a Google My Business listing that is optimized makes sense?
Almost all businesses need to get into the Map Pack. And, though you must do Local SEO to accomplish this, you cannot do that without a solid website too.
In other words, you cannot get into the Map Pack by focusing on it alone and ignoring your website. It does not work that way. It also doesn’t work the other way either.
Organic Search Results
Look at the images of my search again. Harvey Kalles Real Estate ranks #1 in the organic results but not in the Map Pack. In fact, they are ranked 15th in local results against all other Google My Business listings!
Why? Well, it sure isn’t because their website doesn’t rank!
There are a few reasons:
- They do have a GMB listing, so that is not the issue.
- They have lots of local reviews (97) on their business listing, so that is not the issue.
- Their reputation is 4.2 Stars instead of 5 but still not terrible (they could work harder on this).
- They do not do Google Posts regularly, which is odd because they could not rank #1 with their site if they were not pushing out regular content. How much work would it be to reuse that content placed on the site and social media in GMB with a daily Google Post? After all, a Google Post is similar to sending a tweet.
- They are a long way from where I am writing this post (a 36-minute drive through Toronto). That means they are not all that local to me. In fact, there are many closer real estate offices.
Does this make sense? Not to me.
Justifying Local SEO expenses
A small storefront in several key neighbourhoods in Toronto with a display window full of real estate pictures (properties for sale) would not cost that much. And walk-ins to those small storefronts would more than pay for these satellite locations if there was an Agent on Duty.
Then, they could list locations on their website AND in Google My Business. Now they would no longer be a 36-minute drive from me (and many other neighbourhoods in Toronto).
With a #1 website, Harvey Kalles Real Estate Agency could easily be #1 in the Map Pack in every important neighbourhood in Toronto with very little additional work. Instead, they are ignoring 50% of all search traffic!
Perhaps the folks are Harvey Kalles are unaware that most people who search for help with Real Estate that also happen to be distant from their only listed location are not clicking on their #1 ranked site?!
Their website is top drawer. Clearly, big bucks are being spent on it and on SEO, and they must be doing exceptionally well from this, but — and this is a BIG BUT — they are clearly not spending money on Local SEO, which is crazy.
The spare change from having the #1 rank in Toronto for real estate and getting many listings from it would more than pay for 10 satellite locations and then some (even without walk-in traffic and an Agent On Duty).
For the obviously shrewd Harvey Kalles, doing what I suggest would be a small addition to their total marketing budget. But you can’t do what you don’t know.
In other words, they could double their online results with a small additional investment that’s far less than what they already spend on their website.
If it was justifiable to take the website to a #1 rank on Google to receive approximately 20% of all the click-throughs, it is more than justifiable to do Local SEO. Why ignore another 50% of online search traffic?
What I am talking about is not a cost but a profit center. It is getting back money that is being lost every day!
How to get into the Map Pack
Now, some things need to be done. It is not just multiple location listings on GMB that bounce a business to #1 in every local Map Pack. And that is where we come in.
We not only know what to do to align the stars and get into the map pack, we know exactly how to do it. And, though I list the WHAT below, the HOW takes time to learn.
Do you have time to do your website SEO, your content creation & manage Local SEO too? Most business owners do not even have the time to learn it, never mind the time to maintain this ongoing effort.
I trust you are getting my point. In a future post, I will take a deep dive into Local SEO and why many SEO experts don’t know it.
They might think they know, but they don’t!
Claim your Google My Business listing
Remember, a GMB listing is free. And, this link for claiming your GMB listing in Canada (though it will likely redirect automatically in another country anyway).
Keep these things in mind:
Claim your GMB listingHalf of the searches that result in new business come through a Google My Business listing. So, 50% of your potential new business from Google will be lost if you do not do this, even if you have an expensive website!
Complete your profileDo not just do the minimum to open your Business Profile on GMB, as you will never get in the Map Pack. I recommend getting a Local SEO Expert to help you with the Map Pack (40% of all click-throughs from Google searches) — you can contact us here for a free consultation.
SEO HealthYou cannot rank well locally or organically or get into the Map Pack if the competition has optimized their websites. Sorry, but “dems da facts.” You can have us check that for you by ordering a free SEO Audit here.
Optimize your Business ListingCompleting pictures, reviews, and other elements of GMB, might find your Business Listing making the Map Pack but not if the competition hired a Local SEO Expert. Getting into the Map Pack might not be easy, BUT it opens up 40% of all Google searches. Other aspects of optimizing your Google My Business listing are in their own category below.
NAPYour website must prominently display your business Name, Address and Phone number or NAP. Your GMB listing forces you to provide this info but to get into the Map Pack, your site must contain it too. This confirms to Google that you run a local business rather than just trying to rank in other local searches. There is also HTML that can be added to your site. However, this is technically and should be done by an expert like us.
VerificationGoogle will send you a code in the mail to verify your address, which you enter into your business profile. If your website contains Google Site Kit and is linked to other Google Services, like reCaptcha (“Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”), you may not need to do this. In fact, Google automatically approved our listing without sending mail.
Google PostsIf you are posting on social media anyway, you can include Google Posts (GMB) using the same content. Over time this increases your GMB ranking to help you get into the Map Pack. It will also help your website too.
Local SEO experts & professionals are often hired to create content for a site. Typically the same blog is used again in a post on social media, which could include a Google Post.
When I wrote this, Harvey Kalles website is ranked #1 in Toronto for various Real Estate (local) searches, and, as a result, they must list many houses for sale every month. Yet they never put out a Google post with that information, which is basically the same as a post on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Not tough to understand or hard to do. I guess their SEO consultant doesn’t know Local SEO!
CitationsThese are mentions online of your business that contain NAP + W (the W is your website). When Google crawls 3rd party websites, it tallies these citations (or mentions). The number of citations helps get your Business Listing into the Map Pack because Google can see that your business is local and relevant. Hiring a LOCAL SEO company to have them generate more citations saves you the time to figure out how to do that and the time to do it.
Add SchemaThis one is technical. I will not teach this because you could mess up your websites by trying to do it. But before hiring a Local SEO expert, ask them to explain where they add schema!