Optimizing a website in order to rank high in Google Maps can really be classified as a field of SEO unto itself.
What does it mean to rank in Maps?
For most local searches, there are two parts or sections to the search engine results page (SERP.) There is the regular (organic) search results, and there is the map results, known in the SEO industry as the Maps Pack, or the 3 Pack. The Maps Pack is the group of 3 businesses that appear in a box at the top of the page just after the advertisements. Sometimes the Maps pack will have less than 3 results, depending on the situation.
Here is a video of a Google Maps pack in a search engine results page for the term “Cleveland Roofer”.
As you can see in the video, there are 3 businesses that Google displays in a box immediately after the Ads. Some people mistakenly think that these results are also sponsored ads but they are not. They are businesses that ranked organically for the search query.
This is known as the maps pack because these results are taken from Google. You can see that Google has a link for driving directions next to each listing. And above the 3 businesses is a map of the area with a pin representing each of them.
This part of the SERPS is probably the most valuable piece of online real estate that exists.
According to studies:
If the SERP contains a local pack, then the local pack receives the majority of the clicks…the local 3-pack gains 44% of the total clicks.
However, there is still value in being ranked well in the “More Places” section that Google links to at the bottom of the Maps Pack. When you click on that link you are taken to a page, or several pages that contain all of the map results that Google thinks is relevant to the search query. Users will often click through to that page to see more businesses and more options.
Here is a screenshot of where it says “More Places” at the bottom of the Maps Pack.
And here is a screenshot of the page of Map search results that comes up when you click on “More Places.”
This page, or pages, of search results provides more opportunities for a business to be found in Google Search. Although it is not as powerful as ranking in the actual Maps Pack, ranking in the “More Places” section still is valuable. This is especially true if a business has good google reviews that show up by its Maps listing.