Local SEO Guide ( Map Pack Rankings )

Local SEO Guide ( Map Pack Rankings )

Hey guys. I’m just gonna do a quick tutorial on local SEO and how to rank well on the map packs. I did a talk recently about this, so I’m just gonna show some of the slides here so that you can learn what works on the Local Map Pack listings.

I just wanted to cover some statistics first off, 46% of all searches on Google are people looking for local information, whether that be a local builder, a local plumber, or whatever it may be. There still is a massive amount of search out there for people looking for local businesses. As I’m sure you all know, all of the other things with your website, such as off-page SEO, on-page SEO, technical SEO, are all hugely important. A fast loading, good looking website is always gonna win at the end of the day, but these are not hugely important from the Google My Business point of view.

Local SEO 1

This is Google My Business for my own business, so you can see the example here. Just filled out, got some photos, it’s got all my information on there. You want to fill the Google My Business listing out as best you possibly can. Now, at times you will be asked for phone verification. What they’ll tend to do is phone your local phone number and verify that you’re actually there, and then approve your map listing. At times though, they do send a postcard out to your business to make sure you actually are where you say you are.

My GMB Map ListingVerify Your GMB Listing

It’s totally free to set up Google My Business. You just fill out everything with as much information as you possibly can. Just bear in mind, this is just a warning, but bear in mind that people can still suggest an edit to your business.

They can edit your name, location, hours, and they can also say that your business is closed, non-existent, or it’s a duplicate listing. Now, when you’ve verified your listing, you’ll be notified of any edits that anyone wants to suggest. But be aware that not verifying your listing can lead to people stealing leads by changing phone numbers.

local seo tip 1

A massive thing out there is people looking for unverified Google My Business listings, and what they can do is just go into “suggest an edit” and if you don’t verify, you’re not notified of these edits and people can take your business off you.

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They can change the phone number, the website address, and everything else, and make sure that you don’t get any more leads through your map listing. And there’s not a lot Google can do to help. There’s no legal recourse as far as anyone’s aware. But you can report it to Google, but I’m sure, as you all know, reporting stuff to Google doesn’t always get dealt with as quickly as you would like, and can lead to a lot of frustration.

How to Rank in the Local Map Pack

Local SEO Nap

What does work to get those map listings? You hear a lot of people talking about NAP, which stands for name, address, phone number. Now, what you want to do is keep your NAP consistent across the board, on all the directories and anywhere else you’re gonna list your business address.

Things you want to avoid would be using multiple locations on one page. You also want to avoid using acronyms when setting up your NAP listings, and you also don’t want to spam it to death, so don’t overdo it. You also hear people talking about NAP+W.

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It’s not anything different from NAP. It’s just name, address, postcode, and website. People use different terminology. It’s the same thing, but it is very important for local search rankings.

Examples of a bad NAP

For example, say I’m a doctor, you can use acronyms like in the picture below.


A proper NAP example is at the top, where you can see us start to use acronyms on the second and the third example there. Those are not what you want to do. Make sure whoever’s doing this does it consistently. Consistency is the key to Google My Business listings. Getting lots of local citations with that accurate NAP listing is what Google is looking for.

Getting Local Citations

local citations

Now, if you can’t be bothered doing it yourself, you can get people to do this manually for you in your office. They just have to be aware that doing it has to be done consistently. If you can’t be bothered, there is a service out there called citationsbuilder.com, and you can see the various packages that Citations Builder has.

And what is really important when it comes to this is the business description. Now, the business in a lot of cases, if down by some internal person in-house, is just copy and pasted and put on 100 different directories, for example, out of those 100 directories one or two will get indexed because the business description is exactly the same across every single one.

Duplicate Content Issues with Local Citations

That leads to duplicate content issues, which everyone knows is not good from an SEO point of view, it means that Google’s not going to index a large proportion of your citations or map listings or whatever you want to call them. The great thing about Citations Builder is they spin their description to make it unique so that the vast majority of the citations are actually being indexed. They also send your citations to an indexing tool, which helps gets them indexed as well. And they do use a mix of generic geographic-specific and niche relevant directories to get your map listings on there. So if you can’t be bothered doing it yourself, do have a look at citationsbuilder.com.

Indexing is the important part, but what is NAP and does it help SEO? You’ll see here an article from Blue Corona, based over in America, who will tell you that NAP listings are essential for the local search rankings, and it just explains where you should enter it, and various other stuff. There is a seven-step guide to NAP and local SEO that they do have.

A Quick Local SEO Tip

You’ll want to use the same Google account for your Google My Business as your analytics and your search console. You also want to use a local number where possible. You can use a website like twilio.com and you get a local number for a few bucks. Now, you don’t have to use Twilio, there are loads of other services out there,  Twilio it’s just one that I personally use.

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Tim Capper is a very well known SEO guy, he does a lot of Local Google stuff. This is a statement from Tim, and it’ll tell you there that citations are a local search ranking factors, so it’s critical that you keep your citations correct and up-to-date across all your business listings. To rank well, it is important that you have your NAP consistent across all citations. You’ll basically see here from Tim … that these NAP listings have to be consistent.

The reason I’m throwing Tim Capper’s name into the mix is that I want another third party to also verify this, because people often say, “Craig, why are you saying this and other people aren’t?” Google is telling you to do it, Tim Capper’s telling you to do it, guys in America are telling you to do it. And as I say, Google local ranking factors, relevance, distance, and prominence also come into play, so it’s not just about citations. Obviously, relevance, distance, and prominence can come into play, but citations are the thing that throws you up there. But someone’s getting better links, better articles, and more prominent, getting more click-through rate and stuff like that, then they may overtake you in map listings.

The postcode trick. The postcode trick you’ll hear people talking about when it comes to local SEO, and it is basically the NAP listings putting your name, address, postcode on as many other websites as you possibly can. Now, you can use tools like Scrapebox, GSA, MoneyRobot, and certainly get your name, address, postcode … consistently across a number of websites, whether that’s blog comments, web 2.0s and whatever else. What I would make clear is, do not spam it, but this is another way just to get those figures up if you do not want to use Citations Builder for any reason, then you can use a tool like MoneyRobot to spin stuff up, make sure the NAP listing is accurate. But only use it on a very small scale.

Do Google Reviews Help Local SEO?

Do Google Reviews Help

Do Google reviews help? In this example, it’s lawyers in London, and the top one doesn’t have a single review. The other ones do. Google reviews may have once helped, but in my opinion, through my own testing, the reviews do not help the slightest bit when it comes to ranking well on the map listings. They do build trust though, so don’t totally ignore Google reviews. It’s always good to still get your clients to give you good reviews. They do build trust. They can improve the click-through rate, and in turn, they do help to some degree. Click through rate is an important ranking factor for your overall SEO campaign. Having a good five-star rating, or 4.8 or whatever it may be, will certainly improve the click-through rate on your website.

That is pretty much how you would rank well on the local map pack. You can have a look at Citations Builder, you can look at doing all this kind of stuff manually, you just need to make sure that everything’s consistent to give yourself a good chance of ranking well on the local map listings.

If you have any questions on Local SEO or want help doing the work then please do get in touch and we can discuss your options.



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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 20 years.

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