Understanding Google Maps and Google Business Profiles

ranking in google maps
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Read through this short breakout to understand what Google Maps is and why it is so important for your business and such an important part of local SEO.


What is Google Maps and what are Google Business Profiles

Google Maps gets so many search clicks. Especially when someone is searching for something local, whether it is the best Italian restaurant or a plumber. If you are a local business Google Maps and your GBP are of the utmost importance.

Let’s say you are looking for a new dentist and you make a local search like “best dentist near me” or “dentist in Springfield, MA”, the first results you’ll see in the Google SERPS will be a few ads followed by what many of us call the Map Pack. This is typically a list of the top 3-4 ranking GBP’s. It will have the name of the business, its address, and its rating on its Google Business Profile.

Being in the Map Pack drives more clicks than you can imagine. The #1 map listing gets about 40% of all the clicks for a given search query. And those website clicks translate to revenue. Some users don’t even scroll past the maps section. So having a strong Google Maps presence is key to small local businesses.


So how do you get in the Google Map Pack?

This is the million-dollar question. Much like how on-page SEO has many factors that determine search rank, optimizing your GBP to rank high in the map pack relies on many factors. It is an exhaustive list, but I’m going to share a few of the most important ones so you can understand what goes into optimizing a GBP to rank in Google Maps.

Much like ranking a website, ranking in Google Maps is a mixture of signals that are both on and off your GBP itself.


Your Aggregated Review

Having a high number of good reviews is important. It is very hard to rank a GBP that has a rating of less than 4 stars. Google looks to deliver quality answers to search queries. So if Google sees that you have a lot of bad reviews and a low score you are not going to rank high. To solve this we work together to get more positive reviews and get that star rating up.


The number of reviews

This is also extremely important. If you have 20 reviews and the top 4 businesses in the GBP have hundreds, it is unlikely you’re going to overtake them. It can happen, but it’s pretty rare. It’s also just good business practice to try and get as many reviews as you can. People read these, a lot. It builds trust and provides social proof. It’s important to have a pretty aggressive review growth strategy in place.


Answering Reviews and the Reviews themselves

Many businesses don’t respond to their reviews, good or bad. Answering every review shows that you’re active in your business and reputation. Responding well to negative reviews shows potential customers that you care, and you’re response can turn around a negative review in the eyes of the searcher. Responding to reviews also lets you add some SEO keywords to the page. Even something like “and thank you for choosing us as your Northampton, Massachusetts Painting Company” gets a nice keyword in there while also being written naturally.


The profile itself

You want to fill out everything and add as much content as possible that is optimized for the keywords and categories you are trying to rank for. You want to make sure everything is on point and accurate. Choosing the right categories is huge. As is filling out all the sections.


Your websites SEO

Yup, your website affects your GBP and your maps ranking. If you have shoddy on-page SEO your maps won’t rank as high as they can. There needs to be synergy between the 2. And all the information needs to line up.


Business Listings

Business listings help reinforce your NAP. This stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. There are a lot of sites that you can add your business listing to. Google wants to see your NAP reinforced across the internet. This helps Google know that you’re a real business that deserves real ranking. It is important that every listing has the exact same information and that this information is listed the same way on your website.

Many more factors influence where your GBP gets placed in the Map Pack, but these are just a few of the most important ones. When you hire me for monthly SEO, optimizing for a high ranking in the map pack is one of the things I focus on.


If you’re looking to increase your Google Business Profile ranking and get into the Map Pack, reach out and we’ll discuss options.

Gabriel Bertolo

I've been building websites, doing SEO and Marketing for over 10 years. My passions include; UX Design, Wordpress Design, Local SEO, Branding, Copywriting and Conversion Rate Optimization. I have either been quoted by or have had my work featured in Forbes, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MECLabs, Business Insider, Shopify's Blog and more.

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