Every search is an opportunity for your local business to gain a customer. Being found in searches can expose your brand to new customers and increase your in-store sales, but knowing the right factors to appear in search results can be confusing, especially when it comes to Google Maps.

Google Maps SEO (search engine optimization) involves a specific series of tactics to help you to be found in results. We’ve collected the factors that impact your ranking so that you can begin to influence what a local consumer searching “near me” will find.

Understand the Local Listing Map Pack

Google has been making quite a few changes to their local search results, with an update in August of 2015 that resulted in a critical change. Instead of showing 7 results, it narrowed it down to 3 results to align with the mobile experience, increasing the importance of showing up in the top rankings.

By showing only three results, Google freed up valuable space for map results, prices, awards and categories.

Google Maps SEO is now even tougher with only 3 spots to get listed in the Local Listing Map Pack

You can find more results beyond the top three, but you must click the “more” button at the bottom to view them.

Now that you know about the Local Listing Map Pack, find tips to get listed in the top three.

Get on Google My Business

Google My Business is a tool that allows you to manage all of your business’s information in one central location. Instead of having to login to multiple Google tools, such as maps, Search, Google+ and reviews separately, they have combined them into Google my Business.

By using this centralized hub to update your information, you guarantee that potential customers see your correct business information, and also increase your favorability in the Google Maps Local Listing Map Pack.

List Your Business Correctly, Consistently

Google doesn’t just look at the information you provide in Google My Business to determine your ranking. It’s algorithm scours the entire internet to determine rankings, specifically looking for consistent business information across different sites.

Take advantage of online directories and always having a consistent and correct listing for your business information to influence your ranking in the Local Listing Map Pack.

Ad Updates for Extended Reach

Recently Google made two updates to Google Maps that are directly related to ads. While Ads won’t increase your Local Listing Map Pack ranking, it can show your business in results you currently aren’t appearing in. These two changes are:

Ads in Local Finder results

Recently SEO specialists have noticed ads appearing in the Local Finder results after clicking on the “More Places” following the three-pack results.

For your local business ads to appear in these results you simply need to include in AdWords the location extension. The only downside to appearing as an ad instead of an organic listing in these results is you won’t get a pin on the Map results.

Ad Changes to Google Maps

Shortly, Google will only show ads in Google Maps with the location extension through AdWords. Regular text ads (like those found in regular search results) will not be featured.

Now find ad results in Google MapsThis ad update is related to Google Maps no longer being considered a part of Search Partners and will automatically be an option for an ad with location extension, resulting in increased impressions and clicks on ads.

Using Adwords as a part of a combined SEO and SEM (search engine marketing) strategy can strengthen your discoverability with the expanded ads options for local businesses.

The Google Local Listing Map Pack helps local business be found by customers looking to shop in their area and allows them to easily access their business information. The increase of ad exposure on Google Maps helps local businesses who are working to improve their search ranking to reach their audience.

Getting your local business on Google Maps is achievable, whether through SEO or combined SEO and SEM efforts on a budget. Be able to get your business found quickly with the help of Vivial – find out how it can help your business today!