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Google Testing Shift in Map Pack: Navigating Changes in Organic Leads and Traffic

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Marketing


What We’re Noticing in the SERPs

In the ever-evolving landscape of search engine results pages (SERPs), Google is once again testing a change that could directly impact Map Pack placement. For the past few months, for certain queries, the Map Pack has made a noticeable move down in the search results to the middle or bottom of page 1, sometimes not even showing up at all for queries that previously had map results. This strategic shift has sparked discussions among businesses and digital marketers alike, as it potentially impacts organic leads and traffic from this crucial channel. While this change currently seems to be seen only in select markets and searches, its potential implications are significant enough to warrant attention.

In this blog, we'll delve into the effects of Google's Map Pack relocation, explore the potential impact on organic leads and traffic, and discuss actionable solutions that businesses can implement to maintain and even improve their organic search performance.

The Shifting Landscape for Certain Queries

Google's Map Pack, which holds Google Business Profiles (GBP), is the prominent display of local business listings accompanied by a map, and has traditionally occupied a prime spot on the search engine results page. However, recent observations suggest that Google may be testing out a new layout, at least for certain queries, pushing the Map Pack further down the page.

Here is an example of a localized query for “mold damage Fort Myers” returning a search landscape without the Map Pack being at the top, as is currently common for most queries:

 

 

Some speculate that the type of query is now impacting when map listings show at the top or not. Google may only be showing map results when the query is very specifically targeting a local business rather than a generalized keyword.

In the example below, when we search for “mold remediation Fort Myers,” we know that mold remediation is a specific service offered by local businesses - hence why we are seeing the map listings more prominently in the SERPs.

 

Potential Impact on Organic Leads and Traffic

With the Map Pack relocating lower on the page for certain queries, organic search results are ascending, triggering a notable shift in user interaction. Users may show a stronger inclination to click on organic results since they are showing up first now, potentially sidelining the Map Pack. Consequently, businesses listed in the Map Pack might experience a decline in click-through- rates (CTR), leading to a reduction in organic leads and traffic through this avenue if they were ranking in the Maps prior to this shift.

Furthermore, businesses that have invested resources in optimizing their Google Business Profile (GBP)and securing a spot in the Map Pack might find themselves with less visibility, impacting their brand exposure and customer engagement.

 

Adapting to the Change

While Google's testing might indicate a potential shift in the SERP layout, there are several strategies businesses can employ and steps Scorpion is taking to navigate these changes and continue improving our client’s organic search presence:

  • Quality Content & Optimization: Focus on creating high-quality, relevant, and informative content that addresses the needs and concerns of your target audience while also building authority as a brand. By consistently publishing valuable, unique content, you can attract more traffic, which will inevitably help improve your organic keyword rankings. Additionally, optimizing existing content can help to improve your high-value keyword and long-tail keyword rankings
  • Local SEO: Even with the Map Pack's relocation for some searches, local SEO remains crucial, and the Map Pack is still prominent for many queries. Optimize your GBP profile with accurate and up-to-date information, encourage reviews, and engage with customer queries. This will enhance your chances of appearing in both organic results and the Map Pack.
  • Diversified SEO Strategy: Expand your SEO efforts beyond Google. Explore social media platforms, digital PR, and online directories to diversify your online presence and traffic sources.
  • Engaging with Social Content Channels: By leveraging social media platforms, you can tap into a vast audience while reinforcing your organic search presence. These channels provide additional ways to drive traffic to your website for top-of-the-funnel opportunities that could lead to potential customers down the line.
 

As Google continues to test and refine the SERP layout, Scorpion will continue to monitor the impact on GBP results. While the shifting Map Pack may present challenges for organic leads and traffic for some queries, proactive strategies such as content optimization, engaging in social content generation, and having a diversified SEO approach can empower businesses to not only maintain, but enhance their organic search performance.

By staying informed and implementing these solutions, businesses can navigate the changing SERP landscape and continue to thrive in the digital market.