Google’s Local 3 Map Pack is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to generate more organic leads for your contracting business.
Located at or near the top of Google’s search results page, the Map Pack contains all of the information a homeowner needs to find and connect with a local contractor (you!) in an instant.
Keep reading to learn the 4 simple hacks you’ll need to ensure that you are consistently showing up in the Local 3 Map Pack.
What is the Local 3 Map Pack?
Released in 2015, Google’s Local 3 Map Pack (which you may know as the Map Pack or the Snack Pack) is simply a collection of the three most relevant local businesses nearest to you based on a search query.
When homeowners search for things like “roofing contractor near me” or “kitchen remodeler near me”, Google understands that that is a local search and will suggest to you the most relevant results that are closest to you in the 3-pack card.
The Local 3 Map Pack is displayed below paid ads but above the organic listings and takes up a good chunk of real estate on Google’s search engine results page (SERP), so showing up in there can be a lead generation golden ticket for contractors!
This feature is directly connected to your Google My Business profile and works in tandem with several other features to decide upon the ranking status’ for businesses.
This is essential for your local contracting business as ranking in organic searches locally is KEY to success when it comes to lead generation, brand awareness, and overall company growth.
When you appear in the Map Pack, homeowners will actually have to scroll to see the #1 organic post!
Ranking in the Map Pack is simply the most effective way to dominate your local search as people who are searching for you, are ready to buy.
Anatomy of the Local 3 Map Pack
The coveted Map Pack is highly sought after because it offers much more than potential clicks and visibility. Through the way it is built, it can show homeowners your authority and build instant trust and credibility for your business.
A Map Pack listing is made up of:
- Your reviews
Your phone number
- A direct link to your website
A link to your location (if applicable) + directions
In essence, a Map Pack listing shows everything a homeowner needs to contact you or learn more about you. No, if’s, and’s, but’s, or distractions!
How does the Map Pack work?
Glad you asked!
The Map Pack works by considering three major factors:
- Prominence & Trustworthiness
Let me walk you through exactly what this means.
Relevance is all about how good of a match the search is to your business. Imagine Google doing lightning-fast speed dating between your company and a homeowner with each search.
You want there to be some similarities in what homeowners want vs. what your company can provide.
Next is distance. This may seem like an obvious factor but can pose many challenges for contractors who work as a service business (aka don’t work out of a specific location). We’ll get into this a bit later but for now, I will say for the folks who operate on a service basis: there is hope.
Finally, prominence and trustworthiness. You can think of this factor like a good ol’ popularity contest in high school. The goal is to have as many people, talking about you. This means quality citations, reviews, and back links will be your new BFF.
4 Hacks to Rank In the Local 3 Map Pack
We gathered everything you need to know, and nothing you don’t and compiled it into 4 easy hacks you can use today to get you in the Map Pack.
Keep in mind that these 4 hacks will work in tandem with the 3 factors we went over earlier (relevant, distance, and prominence).
1. Optimize Google My Business listing
I think we all know by now that Google My Business (GMB) is essential for any contractor looking for local business.
The fact of the matter is that features like the Map Pack revolve around your Google My Business listing.
That means that in order to even have a chance of showing up in the Map Pack, you need to have an updated, optimized Google My Business listing.
If you haven’t done that, check out our Contractor’s Guide to Google My Business!
Once your Google My Business listing is up to par, you’ll want to put some time and energy into getting some all-star reviews on it. This will take time and patience, but I can guarantee you that slow and steady is the only way to win this race.
Having quality reviews on your GMB listing gives Google a green light that flashes “this business is legitimate!”. As we just learned, our reviews make up a good portion of the anatomy of a Map Pack, so it is important that you have a good number of quality reviews.
Even more important, if you do rank in the Map Pack and your competitor has 100+ reviews and you are still sitting at around 20, it is likely that your competitor will get those clicks.
The #1 thing you can do to increase your reviews on your GMB listing is to leverage previous clients.
We suggest creating a review template example, generating your unique GMB review link, and then doing some outreach to previous clients. All of which could look a little like this: (don’t worry, we don’t mind if you copy and paste this!)
Hi [Customer Name],
This is John from ACME Roofing, I am reaching out today as I completed a project for you in [Insert Date] and would love to receive some feedback from you.
Your feedback is exceptionally important to me and allows me to grow my business and improve the way I serve my customers.
Would you take 5 minutes to leave a review with this link [insert custom GMB link]?
To help you out, here is a quick template I made for you to help you get started. I would love it if you could mention the service you got as well:
“ACME Roofing provided great service! They were timely, trustworthy, and got my roofing repair job done right the first time. I would recommend them to anyone in the Cincinnati area looking for a roofing contractor.”
Thanks in advance.
Once you send a few outreach emails, you should slowly see your number of reviews begin to increase!
Note that when someone mentions a service they received in a review, this looks great in Google’s eyes and will allow you to rank higher for that service.
What is most important here is that you implement systems to make sure you continue to generate quality reviews, whether they are written, or video testimonials having a strategy in place to make sure you are generating reviews on a consistent basis is key.
Pro Tip: we recommend our friends over at NiceJob who have helped thousands of clients implement a reputation marketing strategy that has them effortlessly generating reviews!
2. Boost Your Onsite Optimization
Once your Google My Business is up to par, you can then move into optimizing your website for local SEO.
I promise you, this is not as scary as it may seem.
There are 4 things you’ll need to keep in mind when it comes to onsite optimization:
On-page local SEO
These four elements work together to again increase relevance, distance, and prominence in order to help you rank in that Map Pack.
2.1 – On-page local SEO
When it comes to local on-page SEO there are just 3 major things you need to optimize to get you started:
- H1 (title tag)
- Name, address, and phone number (NAP)
Defining an H1 tag could be a complete blog post on its own, but in short, your H1 is the first title on the page.
Usually made to stand out, catch the attention of the visitor, and most importantly, give Google more information about what the page is actually about.
Now it must be clarified that H1 tags are not the same as Page Titles. Page titles are the actual title of the page and are what shows up on the SERP (search engine result page). Whereas an H1 is the first bold title you’ll see on the page after the title.
Since Google used the H1 tag as its main indicator as to what type of content is on the page, it is imperative to update them with local keywords.
Check out what this contractor did with their H1 tag:
He mentioned his location AND his service in his H1. This is a job well done in our books!
After you’ve got your H1 down pat, you’ll have to refresh your description.
Again, all you have to do here is add in the local city names you serve. Check out what this roofing contractor did for their about section:
Finally, you’ll want to take extra care to make sure that your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are updated correctly on your website and that they match exactly what is on your Google My Business listing.
This home remodeling contractor did a great job adding this section to their website footer!
2.2 – Domain Authority
Domain authority (DA) is a ranking system created by a software company called Moz, and it predicts how likely your site is to rank in the SERP in comparison to competitors.
Basically, this handy number can give you a pretty solid understanding of how much ‘ranking strength’ your page has.
However, Domain Authority has ZERO effect on the actual SERP results.
There are also no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ domain authority scores as the system is entirely relative. Thus, DA should only be used as a metric when looking at comparisons.
For example, if the average DA among your competitors is 35 and you have a DA of 25, I would say that you are doing pretty good!
However, boosting your website’s DA has been seen in direct correlation with ranking in the Map Pack.
Here are three ways you can boost your DA:
- Improve general SEO health (like making sure your site is optimized for any recent Google Updates)
- Increase the number of quality backlinks your website has
Give it time-DA will naturally go up as a site ages.
Pro Tip: You can use the free Moz toolbar to checkout your DA and your competitors’ to see if this is an area you need to improve in!
2.3 – Backlinks
The coveted backlinks!
Every contractor knows that they need them, but most don’t know why they need them or how to get them.
Let us break it down for you.
Backlinks are created when one website links to another. You can think of backlinks as a ‘vote of confidence’ from one website to another, making it appear more trustworthy and relevant to Google so it will appear higher in the SERP.
When trying to gain links for your website, that is called link-building.
Here is your fool-proof link-building gameplan:
Step 1: Find a piece of content that you have written that you think is a useful resource
Step 2: Do a Google search around that topic or any keywords you chose to target when writing. For example, if you wrote about roof shingle types, your search could be “best singles for roofs”
Step 3: When you land on a site that has a similar topic, you can then use your Moz Toolbar to see what the DA of the page is.
Step 4: If the DA is around the same as your site’s DA or higher, and the content is relevant, contact the author on LinkedIn or write the company with a link-building message.
Wondering what to say when reaching out to build links? Here’s an example:
John from ACME Roofing here. I was doing some digging on testimonial videos and came across this article on your site: [Insert article link here]
Great post! Loved that it covered how to shoot with a phone.
We actually just wrote a detailed guide showing people how to make effective customer testimonial videos. I think it might be a helpful piece to link to in your article.
Would you be open to adding a link within your post to help improve each other’s SEO? We’ve got a Domain Rating of 56 and can return the favor by linking to some relevant content of yours from a blog post on our site.
What do you think?
You’re not going to generate 100 links overnight with this strategy, but with patience and consistency, you’ll begin to see your link-building efforts pay off and in turn, see yourself in the Map Pack.
2.4 – Local Citations
You’ve likely heard about backlinks, but you may not be so familiar with citations.
Let me tell you…they are one of the best-kept SEO secrets!
Local citations are any mention of a business name, phone number, or address (NAP) of a local business online. They help others discover local businesses and can help you rank in the Map Pack.
In short, they matter because they allow for Google to better judge the trustworthiness and accuracy of a local business. Quantity, quality, and accuracy are all key factors!
There are three types of local citations you need to have:
- Major local business data platforms– These are the most important and include Google My Business, Google Maps, and profiles on Facebook and Yelp.
- Geo/Industry-specific platforms– This includes platforms like Angie’s List & Houz
- The wider web– These can be considered as supplementary citations next to the above two, but this includes having your business featured on any prominent blogs, news sites, or government databases like the Better Business Bureau.
All you have to do is do a quick run-through of all of your current citations to make sure they are all accurate and again match exactly with the information that is on your Google My Business listing and your website (especially the locations) and then work on building more out.
3. Create Quality Local Content
Creating content is always a great idea for your contracting business, but creating local content is a surefire way to generate more leads and snag your spot in the Map Pack
What does local content actually look like? Here are some examples of blog posts:
The options for creating local content can be endless if you keep your content genuinely helpful to your local community.
You can even take these blog posts and turn them into social media posts as well, increasing the trust google has in your local contracting business.
These types of content can also greatly move the trustworthiness needed in Google’s eyes!
If you really want to up your content game, you can dip your toes into keyword research and write topics around certain keywords that have a large search volume.
Keyword research simply just takes the guesswork out of your content creation. You’ll get direct insight into what homeowners are searching for which can significantly increase the amount of local traffic you can bring to your blog!
Outside of your blog, there are two other contractor website must-haves that you can jam-pack with local content:
- About us
FAQs should answer the top questions that local homeowners are asking about your business. This could include your service areas, products you use, or certifications you have. These questions pose a great opportunity to jump in and use some local terms!
The same goes for your About Us section.
As we saw earlier, plugging in local cities, addresses, slang, etc. into your website is easy and can make a huge impact on your ability to rank in the local 3 map pack.
For example, your about section could look a little something like this:
‘ACEM Roofing was founded in 2008 by John Richards. Our initial office was at 200 Terra Ave #1765, but in 2016 we moved to a larger office outside of downtown at 80 Wellington St W #3460. Having served the greater Cincinnati area for over 20 years, we believe…”
Pro Tip: If you are stuck on finding some good FAQs, don’t be shy to turn to platforms like Answer the Public to see what homeowners are really asking for!
4. Embed Google Maps
Of course, we saved the best for last!
Many of you have likely been on a “Contact Us” page on a website and noticed the little Google Map clip that is embedded into it.
Yes, it looks great and gives visitors a quick look as to where you are located, but did you know that it can supercharge your ability to rank in the Map Pack?
This is one of the easiest, yet most effective things you can implement today that will make the greatest difference in your ability to rank locally simply because it is the easiest way to prove to Google that your location is valid and correct.
If you have editing power on your website, here is what you need to do to embed your map location into your website:
- Open Google Maps
- Search for your business
- Once on your business profile, click the share button
- Toggle to the right and click embed a map
- Copy the HTML and paste it into the back end of your website.
If you don’t have editing access to your website, I would highly recommend sending an email to your web developer asking them to implement this as soon as possible!
BONUS: Service Areas vs. Physical Locations
When it comes to ranking locally on Google, the controversy around services areas vs. physical location always comes up for contractors.
If you check out our latest blog post all about Google My Business, you’ll know that Google is actually getting smarter when it comes to helping those who do not have a physical location for their business.
They offer a feature called Service Areas, which allows contractors to choose multiple areas in which they serve instead of committing to one physical address.
Although this feature does have some advantages like being able to show your service areas vs. a pinpoint on a map. When it comes to ranking, service areas simply have more of a challenge ahead of them.
This means that if you have your Google My Business listing set up as a service area business, you will simply have a harder time ranking for proximity in Google’s eyes.
However, not all hope is lost! While ranking for proximity may not be your strong suit, you can still rank for relevance and prominence as per Google’s 3 ranking factors!
This means that it’s time for you to get your Google My Business listing up to par with quality local content and refresh your onsite local SEO to make sure you can stay in the game.
Conclusion: What matters most
Ranking in the Local 3 Map Pack can seem daunting at first, but with these 4 simple hacks and some patience, you should be able to see yourself in the Map Pack in no time!
To be most effective and maintain your spot in the Map Pack, we recommend doing the following once a month:
- Check your Google My Business listing to ensure that is it optimized
Continuously generate new, quality reviews
Refresh your onsite local SEO and ensure you are building new links and citations
Create new local content
Happy ranking! We’ll see you in that Map Pack soon!