CASE STUDY: How to Jump Your Competitors in the Map Pack

GMB Case Study - Foxtail Marketing

Before I dive into the case study, let’s make sure everyone knows what Google My Business and Google Map Pack are and why they are so important. Google My Business allows you to create an account for your business that will tell Google certain aspects of your business like location, hours of operation, what you’re about, etc.

Google My Business puts your business info on Search, Maps, and Google+ so that customers can find you, no matter what device they’re using.

Google Map Pack is the map that shows up towards the top of the page when one searches for something that is location based. I.E. I Googled “restaurants near me” and took a screenshot of the Map Pack. The area highlighted below in red shows you what the Map Pack is.

So why are local listings in the map pack so important? Gregg Stewart, from Search Engine Watch wrote an article that shows local listings are the most relevant and trusted by consumers. These aren’t ads, you don’t have to pay to get to this position, you just need to convince Google that you deserve to be listed on the Map Pack, and at the top. If you’re new to using Google My Business and Google Map Pack read more about how and why to get listed on Google My Business.

Google My Business Case Study - Foxtail Marketing

Get to the Top of the Map Pack

For those of who already use GMB (Google My Business) you might have hit a wall on how to increase your ranking in the Map Pack. This is where our case study comes into play. Recently, at Foxtail Marketing, our C.E.O Mike Templeman stumbled upon a little bit of gold while playing around with our Google My Business profile. He did three different things:

  • Uploaded an image with the file named with a specific keyword
  • Wrote content containing the keyword in the caption
  • Optimized the About Us info to contain the keyword in a natural, organic way

After he gave our SEO team a breakdown of what he did and how we need to make sure we are doing this for our clients, I wondered how much weight each individual step carried. So I decided to take a total of 20 test accounts and break them into 4 sections:

  1. IMAGE FILE ACCOUNTS: Five accounts would have all images uploaded with the file named with the keyword
  2. CAPTION ACCOUNTS: Five accounts would have the caption optimized with the keyword
  3. KEYWORD IN BIO ACCOUNTS: Five accounts would have the bios optimized with the keyword
  4. CONTROL ACCOUNTS: Five of the accounts would receive no optimization to their GMB, just to make certain that if we achieved positive results, we would need to determine this was done through optimizing their GMB and not any SEO work that we were doing on the main site.

Of the accounts selected, I choose one keyword for each account. Each keyword would contain the location of the business. I.E. Plumber in Chicago, or Electrician in New York City, New York (not actual examples). Everything else on the accounts were kept exactly the same. All accounts came from one company keeping a consistent sampling through the same industry.

I then Googled each keyword and took note of the location of the business in the SERP and in the Map Pack. After optimizing the accounts, I gave each account 7 days and then checked the results. Here is what I found.

Image File Accounts

Of the accounts tested, 4 of the 5 accounts gained positive traction in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and the Map Pack! The 5th account gained 2 spots in the Map Pack, and no movement in the SERP. On average, each account jumped 3.5 positions in the Map Pack, with one account jumping 7 positions!

Caption Accounts

The caption keyword accounts made no movement in the SERPs or Map Packs.

Keyword in the Bio

1 of the accounts that had their bios changed didn’t move at all. 1 saw positive momentum in the SERP and Map Pack. The other 3 saw positive traction in either the SERP or The Map Pack.

Control Accounts

We experienced no change whatsoever in the SERP or Map Pack with our control accounts. This would suggest that Mike’s original prediction was correct.


By combining an optimized bio with images uploaded with the file named with the desired keyword, you should see an increase in the SERP or the Map Pack, possibly even both.

Remember these suggestions:

  • I used a wide variety of photos for each account, the end result pointed to having a minimum of 8 images on the accounts.
  • Upload profile image, logo, cover photo, interior, exterior, team photos, work photos, and other photos.
  • Even though the image file accounts had more overall positive impact, optimizing your bio is almost just as critical.
  • I suggest using variations to keywords.
  • This test did not include anything about the importance of reviews, but this is a clear indicator that I will cover on my next blog with my next test group

If you ever want any professional help with your local listings or SEO, please feel free to contact Foxtail Marketing today. We would be more than happy to assist you with any questions or concerns.

Darren Faber

About Darren Faber

Darren is one of the first employees Foxtail ever had. Aside from that he enjoys starring in low-budget rom-coms (true story, look it up).

Foxtail Marketing is a digital marketing firm that provides content marketing, digital marketing, and lead generation services for small and mid-market companies.


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