Google Map listings have undergone a recent change. Also referred to as the 10-pack, it’s a selection of local businesses that accompanies your local search. For example, if you search for “pizza springfield, MO” you’ll get a 10 recommended pizza places within that city that are pinpointed on a small Google Map right above the natural search results.
The recent change is that instead of the 10 map points listed as A through J are now truncated. The 10-pack is gone as now only 7 map points listed as A through G.
I personally think, they should have gone down to 6 map points so that SEO workers can go to conferences asking “hey, how’s your six pack?” Heh.
Anyway, what this does is increase competition down at the bottom. Those duking it out on the bottom now have to fight harder. Losing a spot will mean more with a 3rd of the listing space gone.
So why the change?
The main guess is that Google is making way for Google Listing Ads, a new platform to bring PPC into hands of small business owners. To introduce these ads, some visual real estate will need to be freed up. For myself, I wondered for awhile if 10 listings were absolutely necessary. Of course, when you are 8th, 9th or 10th you’d argue that “yes, they are very necessary!”
The 7 Pack Factors
So how is your “7-pack?” Below are some factors that can help you adjust your position over time. These methods don’t guarantee results, but they have generated results.
1. Claiming Your Local Business Listing.
For Google and Bing Listings, claiming your listing is the first step to getting yourself to the 7-pack. It establishes authority and trust with the search engines. Websites that “play ball” will get preferential treatment.
2. Having your Business Properly Categorized
I would recommended keeping tabs on your categories and the results of the traffic and then reduce the number of categories and reflect those changes to your main site. Being sleek in what people are wanting will generate more qualified leads for your business.
3. Keyword Usage in Local Listing Description
This is huge! I’m always about keyword research and keeping tabs on what people are searching on the engines. The description gives you freedom to put your most devastating keywords in place.
Do On-Page Factors Affect the 7-pack?
There is some evidence that some On-Page techniques can influence your Local Search Results. Here are some items to consider for your localization of your website.
A. City/State Listed in Page Titles
The page titles are very strong in SEO terms. Placing your city and state along with your keywords is a very strong tactic.
B. Address in Footer
Including a physical address in your footer will tell the search engines that you are a legit business and the burden of proving you are real isn’t on them.
C. Ditch the Toll-Free Number
Yep. Ditch it. Proudly display your local number. These are local listing you are going for and, therefore, a toll-free number doesn’t make sense.
For more in-depth reviews of different Local Search Techniques, consult this article. But remember, you need to test your own niche out for these techniques. Your specific niche and location could probably blow the roof off your local results by just adding a Local Business Center to your campaign.