Google Maps Marketing: Optimization Beyond The Local 3-Pack

Google Maps Optimization Beyond Local 3-Pack

There’s a big misconception about what defines Google Maps marketing.

“Google Maps marketing” is used mostly in reference to the local “3-pack” listings associated with the Google Maps snippet. These competitive listings provide prime marketing real estate for all types of businesses.

Traditional Google Maps Marketing

Although the 3-pack is probably the most coveted means of search visibility, Google Maps marketing involves much more. Because there are already hundreds of blog posts on local SEO best practices and how to rank in Google, below I share how to optimize your business beyond the local 3-pack.

Search Results in Google Maps

Not every search user has location data enabled on their device, and Google Maps listings are available on a global scale with no geographic boundaries (regardless of the user’s search vicinity.) This is when Google Maps search results are often displayed.

Like an expansion of the 3-pack, these listings appear on Google Maps searches for certain types of businesses in a given location. For a visual, see the figure below of the Google Maps search results for “vegan restaurants” in San Francisco, California:

Google Maps Search Marketing

As a metropolis for plant-based cuisine, San Francisco hosts a wealth options for vegan restaurants, making it a highly competitive search market in Google Maps.

In the The Ultimate Guide to Google Maps Marketing, WordStream author Dan Shewan shares his scientific analysis of the ranking factors associated with these listings.

Based on his findings, neither location nor business ratings/reviews are legit ranking factors in Google Maps search. Rather, Shewan says it’s “Google My Business listing is, along with some other factors” that influence these listings.

GMB Optimization Tips for Google Maps Marketing

Google My BusinessOptimizing your Google My Business (GMB) page is vital to actualizing a successful Google Maps marketing strategy. Here at Captivate Local, we plan to provide a more actionable guide in the future (check out the latter mentioned “Ultimate Guide” in the meantime.)  To help you get started, below are a few tips to best approach your GMB page:

The first step is to create a Google My Business page (or claim your existing GMB page.) Next:

  • Populate your page to 100% completion. This includes all the fine details like your business’s hours of operation, location, contact information, etc.
  • Choose the most relevant categories that describe your business, making the primary category the most relevant top pick.
  • State which areas your business services (names of nearby cities or towns that you serve, or a defined radius [in miles or kilometers] from your business’s location.)
  • Properly link from your business’ website to your GMB page (you’ll see instructions for this on the page with specific code to drop on your site.)
  • Verify your GMB listing via phone verification or postcard submission (Google will send a postcard to your business’s location with a 4 digit PIN.)

Here’s a video from the folks at Google to reinforce these points:

Google Maps Ads

One of the latest integrations from Google include a series of ad features in Google Maps. There are four new ad features that are available in Google Maps:

  • Promoted Pins (which can include logos and branding elements)
  • In-store promotions
  • Local inventory search function
  • Customizable business pages

These ads can appear in the search results shown on the Google Maps app, the desktop and mobile versions of the main Google Maps site, and on’s Expanded Map results.

Of the most common are a single promoted ad at the top of Google Maps search results, as seen below:

Google Maps Marketing Ads

As you can see, the ad is indicated in the image above with a purple flag, in addition to the advertisers location on Map also being purple. In a recent announcement from Google, it said it may be transitioning away from the common yellow ad flag (shown in Google Search) to a green one. All colors aside, this ad model provides a less popular (and perhaps less competitive) opportunity for Google Maps marketing.

For more information about Google Maps marketing and how to increase the search engine visibility of local business, contact Captivate Local for a free consult.