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Local Maps SEO: The Big Picture Behind Maps Optimization

Local maps SEO has become a major marketing boon for locally-based businesses. Both enterprise-level companies and small businesses alike are optimizing their search presence in the local maps listings (otherwise known as the Google 3 pack.)

The Google 3 pack is most valuable form local search marketing real estate, as it's often shown near the top of the SERPs and is reserved for only 3 entities. However, there's more to local maps SEO and embracing the big picture behind Google Maps marketing and optimization process.

Ranked Google Maps Search Results

When a Google user doesn't have location data enabled on his or her device, the ranked Google Maps search results are typically displayed. Additionally, Google Maps is available on a global scale without any geographic boundaries. As a result, the ranked Google Maps results are sometimes shown instead of traditional, local 3 pack results.

Viewable upon clicking the "More places" link below the 3 pack, these search results appear on the Google Maps interface (or mobile app) for specific types of businesses in a given location. For example, see the screenshot below of the ranked Google Maps results for “orthodontist” in Seattle, Washington:google local maps SEO

The rankings behind these local maps search results use different variables and signals compared to the 3 pack. Notably, citations are less influential (compared to 3 pack SEO) and Google My Business (GMB) pages are perhaps the most influential. As a result. It's important for local maps SEO to claim, verify, and optimize a business's GMB page to maximize it's ranking potential in the Google Maps search results.

Google Maps Ads

Dovetailing on our last example, Leone & Vaughn Orthodontics are the only orthodontists in Seattle leveraging Google Maps ads. Combined with their organic Google Maps listing (shown just below the ad), Leone & Vaughn Orthodontics are doubling their search exposure while occupying a significant chunk of search real estate.

Google Maps ad

While this is more search marketing than it is local maps SEO on semantic level, it's still an underutilized opportunity worth mentioning. Google Maps ads can be created through AdWords when synced with a business's GMB page or local listing. In a competitive search market, these ads offer valuable platform to improve search exposure and generate quality, in-market traffic to a site. For more information about Google Maps ads, see tips and training resources here.

Getting Started With Local Maps SEO

The first step to local maps SEO to claim or establish a new GMB page for your business. Once claimed, the next steps are to:

  • Select the most relevant categories that describe your organization (making the primary category the most relevant top pick.)
  • Populate your GMB page to 100% completion. This includes every detail, such as hours of operation, images, contact information, etc.
  • Define your business's primary service areas (i.e. names of nearby cities or towns, or a defined radius from your location.)
  • Add a link from your website to your GMB page (and vice versa.)
  • Verify your GMB listing (via phone verification or postcard submission)

For more help getting started with local maps SEO, there are many reputable local SEO agencies in Atlanta that specialize in Google Maps marketing and optimization. To ensure your investment offers the greatest returns, work with a certified Google Partner who has the credentials you can trust with your business.


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