Google Map Pack – The Evolution
Phase 1: The 7 to 10 pack
A long time ago, Google had up to 10 spots in the map pack. And in some cases they had additional listings on the side of the SERPS.
Phase 2: The 3 pack
Fast Forward a bit and the map pack went to 3 organic listings.
Honestly we wish Google would have stopped it here, but we don’t own Google and they rarely listen to us. 🙂 The geo location was more of an approximation and was easier to rank in a proximity just by being the biggest dude on the block. In some cases you didn’t even need a physical location to rank well in the 3 pack. This was pre-Possum algorithm update and there weren’t a lot of places being filtered based on the zoom level etc.
This was essentially the glory days of the map pack for SEOs.
-Get more review than your competitors
-Optimize your Google My Business Account
-Claim review sites like Yelp, YP.com etc and you were good to go
Phase 3 -Invasion of the Ads.
We all knew this was inevitable. Google makes money off of ads and if you make the ads the first thing people see, then they tend to click on them.
And the geolocation has gotten MUCH MUCH better than it used to be. Based on our testing, the geolocation is the separating factor now when it comes to ranking in the map. No matter how much you try and game the system, the physical location based off of your Google My Business listing is going to be the key.
This is where the elite SEO people hang out. If you have a business in the 3 pack in this day and age it is not there by accident. Someone has worked really hard with all the aforementioned tactics, plus they may have gone so far as to optimize their own Google Map settings. Honestly, its really hard to tell what is going on with a listing just from a cursory glance.
Let’s take a look shall we?
Some of our friends who run an SEO firm have been working with a local dentist for the past 9 months or so. We are relaying this second hand, so bare with us if the details are a bit fuzzy.
The owner of Perfect Smiles Dental Care in Lenexa went through the classic technology crash and burn. A few years back, he had a site built by one of the larger medical marketing firms. It ranked well and his site had great visibility. He dominated not only his suburb, but most of the surrounding suburbs.
This site started to suffer when Google rolled out the 1st phase of Mobilegedon. This was an update to the algorithm that penalized sites that were not mobile friendly. By the way, you can check to see if your site is mobile by visiting this site.
According to the story, a top level dental marketing guru was brought into “fix” things. Well, he sure fixed things. He had the robots.txt file set to block all the Googlebots and well..you know the rest.
The dentist hired our boys to dig him out of the hole he was in. It took them almost 6 months to do it, but look at the maps results they have gotten for him.
Study their maps below and see if you can learn some tricks to use for your clients. (We’re not going to give you all the answers here 🙂 )