Google has updated how the local map pack appears in the search engine result pages, as it is now directly interactive from the SERPs.
The Google Local Pack includes a map which has before now been static, showing the top local businesses or points of interest with markers.
But now, it is interactive so you can move your view of the map, hover over markers to see reviews of each place, and zoom in and out with the designated buttons. You can do all this directly within the search results rather than going to the fully-fledged Google Maps page with all of the local listings.
Interestingly, on some searches it appears completely differently – with the local pack on the left and the map on the right. Which, in my short amount of experimentation, appeared much less frequently. But it is worth testing some of the terms your customers may search for to see who is displayed and how.
When hovering over a business you can see the name, rating and number of reviews. And that is not limited just to the top 3 results which is featured within the local pack.
How does this impact my local SEO?
For all intents and purposes, this does not change much in terms of how you make sure you are seen within the local pack or within the map itself.
However, there is n o doubt that the fact this map can be manipulated to potentially highlight rivals, competitors, or simply those map listings which are not displayed within the top 3 could make a major difference on what gets discovered in the search results. It has only been live a few days so it is still early days, and Google may change this further, but it is worth keeping an eye on if you rely heavily on local business and customers.
It is also worth keeping an eye on the metrics of your Gooogle Business profile to see if there are any major swings in views or interactions with your profile. If there is any significant change, it is worth revisiting your profile to see if there is much to improve. You should never be complacent about SEO – as even of you are at the top, it is very likely your competitors are doing everything they can to knock you off the top and take your crown.
One thing that will almost certainly be more important are the Google reviews – both the quantity of reviews you have via your Google Business listing and the actual star rating itself. This is much more prominent, and this will sway potential customers either way when they are considering the options within the map pack. Customers can very quickly see the reviews and based on the number of reviews and the overall star rating, instantly decide whether to click your listing or click on a competitor.
Ensuring you are doing everything you can to be displayed within the local pack via local SEO techniques is critical, as well as optimising your Google Business profile to the maximum. This can take some time and require some research, but it can make a huge different to how many people discover your business, make enquiries, call your business, or simply turn up to your location. If you are appearing in the top 3 local results, it can make a significant improvement to the number of leads or sales you acquire. And it makes it all the better when you are outranking your local competition.
If you need a hand ranking in your local vicinity, do not hestitate to get in touch with the Xanthos team who will be happy to discuss your requirements and how we can help.