If you’ve recently done a Google search for a nearby service, you’ve probably noticed that three local businesses will populate beneath a map of the area. These results are organic, and make up what is known as Google Maps’ Local 3-Pack. Ranking in this coveted space can be invaluable to your business, as it suggests a strong and reputable local presence. It can certainly draw in a large amount of traffic to your website.

So, how can you catapult your business into this prized space? Here are a few SEO best practices that you can employ to get your business into Google Maps’ Local 3-Pack.

Google local Maps 3-Pack

Make Sure Your Google My Business Listing is Optimized

The best starting point for launching your business into Google Maps’ Local 3-Pack is optimizing your My Business listing. You want to include as much information as you can in your listing, and Google makes this task fairly easy. Since you’re no longer required to enter a description, you can fill in all the necessary information about your business in a simple, straightforward manner.

When you optimize your GMB listing, the number one thing is to ensure that the phone number you list is a local number and that it matches the number listed on your website.

Other important things to check on in your GMB listing include:

  • Up-to-date payment details.

  • Accurate opening hours

  • Fresh and high res images of your business — consider hiring a photographer for an Indoor Street View tour

  • Choose specific categories for your business ("organic grocery" vs. “shop” or “grocery”).

Make sure no one has hijacked your listing and added a link to their website (this has happened!).

When it comes to great SEO, backlinks are still king.

If your aim is to rank locally, having a strong link profile is still a top determining factor. Acquiring backlinks can be done in a wide variety ways, such as:

  • Getting your site listed in local directories centered on your line of business

  • Having a robust social media presence

  • Contributing content to high-ranking websites.

There are also excellent link-building tools available, such as Ahrefs and Whitespark.

While they don’t pass link juice, your business’ local citations are also very important for ranking in local search results.

The More Reviews, the Better

Online reviews have become widely used by consumers in recent years. Google is in tune with this trend, and they greatly value positive Google Reviews when it comes to ranking in their Local 3-Pack. While achieving a great reputation organically should always be a goal, you can boost yourself into the Local 3-Pack by simply asking customers to leave you a review. It’s worth noting, also, that the sooner a review is left, the better.

Google relies heavily on your business’ star rating when ranking businesses in the Local 3-Pack. So encouraging reviews is important.

Star ratings appear in local Maps 3-Pack

Always Use a Local Phone Number

Though it may seem incredibly simple, it is important that your business uses a local phone number. Though you may offer a nationwide service that primarily uses a toll-free number, you need to remember that the Local 3-Pack is designed for you to rank locally. If you’re appearing in a Local 3-Pack search result, chances are that searcher is going to be in your area, not on the other side of the country.

Along with maintaining your local phone number, you should also make sure you are keeping your NAP information consistent across your website, GMB listing, review pages and citations.

Being Mobile-Friendly is a Must

It’s important to consider that 80% of internet users own a smartphone, and while the primary use for mobile web activity is still favored toward apps, the time spent on websites continues to rise. In fact, the number of mobile searches with local intent (using some of of "near me") has exploded over the last few years:

Google Trends graph of near me search popularity

With this in mind, it is absolutely crucial that your business has a mobile-friendly website. Google Maps’ Local 3-Pack also considers a website’s mobile responsiveness in regards to ranking, so if you want to position yourself in this space, being mobile-friendly is a must.

Multiple Locations? Use Unique, Custom Content for Each

If your business has multiple locations, and you’re interested in each ranking in Google Maps’ Local 3-Pack, you need to take steps that ensure each page has some individuality. This goes beyond simply pasting the location into boilerplate text on your various pages – you want to be sure to have unique content that is tailored to that individual location.

There are a few ways you can do this, including:

  • Customer reviews

  • Quotes or content from your employees

  • Images of your location

Ranking in the Local 3-Pack Can Be Done

Having your website in Google Maps’ Local 3-Pack can offer a major boost in traffic, and by following some of these SEO practices, it can be accomplished. Any good SEO expert will be knowledgeable of these methods, and you might find that seeking out a consultant on such matters can save you time and energy, while also generating significant traffic for your website and business.