I am often asked by businesses that serve one or more local communities or local markets, “When I search Google why doesn’t my business appear in the 3 listings Maps section?”.

If they are a builder or trade services business they are usually searching something like “house builders in [ location name ]” — for this example lets say the location name is ‘Bundaberg’, as in:  “house builders in bundaberg”.

I had another client email me today with this very same questions. They are in the medical industry. We also just setup and activated their Google Adwords account yesterday. Their email question today has prompted me to write this blog article.

Here is the question they just emailed me, “I searched “Bundaberg [core service name]” in Google and can see our Adwords Advert. That is great! But our business is still not coming up in the Maps list. Why is that?”

I have sent them a useful reply and am now writing this blog article as well.

In answering the question, the first thing to note is: Google Adwords and Google Maps have nothing to do with each other. They are totally different platforms. One is an advertising service that Google provides. The other is related to ‘earning’ your place in the ‘Maps 3 Pack’ (as it is called) … and that is related to Local SEO.

A bit of info about how to try and get in the ‘Maps 3 Stack/ Pack’

Getting in the 3 Pack is not easy. The rewards for your business though speak for themselves. It is definitely something to try and do if you are wanting more traffic (and therefore more customers and sales) from people searching for services that your local business provides.

So how to do it? Here is an overview step by step guide. Note, it requires ‘done for you’ services by experts PLUS some involvement from yourself, or your in-house manager if you have someone appointed who is accountable:

  1. Ensure you’ve read the 3 blog articles I have listed below.
  2. Be aware that getting in the Maps 3 Pack is going to involve excellent ‘Local SEO’ work. It’s also going to involve getting great (and as many as you can) local customer reviews.
  3. First up, contact a EXCELLENT Local SEO Agency (as in, contact us if you would like). Tell them you want to get in the ‘Google Maps 3 Pack’ or ‘Google Maps 3 Stack’.
  4. Make sure your Google My Business profile is setup, verified, up to date and contains great info, images, correct open times, etc
  5. Select the Local SEO expert you want to work with. If you want to know all about keyword research, on-website SEO, conversion rate optimisation (CRO), citations, backlinks, backlink profiles, disavow, SEO PR, Technical SEO, Domain Name Authority building (the DA Score) and all these other boffin things that your Local SEO specialist knows ALL about, that is great. You can ask them. BUT if you just want RESULTS for your business, and don’t want to know all this techy/boffin guff, just find a Local SEO provider who is focused on HELPING INCREASE YOUR SALES AND HELPING ACHIEVE YOUR BUSINESS GROWTH GOALS (the good ones know ALL the SEO stuff, BUT also know that RETURN ON RESULTS bottom line MUST be their primary concern and focus). That is the type of expert you want (in my opinion)… but do ask them this one question: “Do you ONLY do white-hat SEO?”. If they say ‘yes’ but sound like they are lying… RUN! Go elsewhere… and keep shopping around till you find a Local SEO expert (or team) who sound legit. This link will take you to an article where you can read why you do NOT want to work with someone who is going to do what is called ‘Black Hat SEO’.
  6. Your newly appointed Local SEO expert will guide you on the journey to gaining more traffic to your site and helping you get in the Maps 3 Stack. Amongst things they will ask you to start communicating to your customers to write reviews on your Facebook page, your TrueLocal account and on your Google My Business listing. The more the better — but NONE of this should be done ALL at once. The reason is because this can look like you are ‘artificially attempting to game the Google system’ to get into the Maps 3 pack in a ‘non-organic’/ non-natural way’. Google will see what you are trying to do and it won’t work. It can, in fact, HURT your business. I will write more about this topic another day — it’s actually part of about 200 things that are central to SEO success.
  7. Your site must be excellent! Imagine spending time, money and effort to drive great traffic to your website BUT your website itself is not good enough (not a fantastic representation of your business) to convert ENOUGH of these website visitors into becoming new leads and customers. Your website will have let you down in a BIG way (and COST you money, instead of making you LOTS of money) because it is not a ‘performer site’. Note: a ‘performer website’ is a strategically crafted website that has psychological selling triggers (a few are mentioned in this video), cues, call to actions, proof to support claims (trust-based signals) and other elements that subconsciously and consciously compel site visitors to want to buy from you. Your quality SEO expert will talk with you more about this. Your site needs to be an asset, not a liability.
  8. Be patient. This takes time and effort to do. ALSO: This is not a ‘one time thing’. Remember: Always ask customers to write reviews for you, now and into the future. Don’t pester of course, but set up a process. This could include but is not limited to: asking, emailing, SMS and having a sign on your front counter about it. An A1 poster on your foyer wall and/or an A3 or A4 posters in your customer waiting area is also a good idea. I’ve even heard business people suggest mentioning it on your invoice or the email you send with your invoices. Another additional suggestion is a little ‘call to action’ postcard to give to customers once you have done work for them. There are so many ways to do this, I’ve only listed a few. It’s also something you can get creative with. Many little subtle prompts/ little reminders work well.

Here are the articles that I mentioned above. They are well worth reading first and fore-most:

I’ve ensured this is just an ‘overview step by step’ article. I want it to be a quick read. If this was a ‘FULL’ step by step guide it’d be WAY longer.
If you have questions or would like more information though, or want to share your own insights, feel free to post them in the comments.

Jay Daniells

About the Author: Jay Daniells

Jay Daniells has been doing advanced Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) work for clients since 2010. He is an SEO specialist. He first started doing SEO work in 2005. He has also been creating websites full-time since 2003. Amongst things Jay is also a graphic designer, digital marketing consultant and creative person. His focus is helping businesses, community groups, clubs, charities, organisations and other entities achieve their goals. He is the owner of Green Valley Digital.