How To Dominate The Local Maps Pack And Mess With Your Competition

Location, location, location!

We’ve all heard it before. If your storefront is not in a prime location, then you are not going to get any foot traffic coming through your doors, and your business will suffer.

Well, the same thing that applies to brick and mortar stores becomes apparent in the online world too.

And we all know where the best location to be is on Google: page 1. Not page 3, not even page 2, as the majority of searchers spend their time going through the page 1 results, and that’s where your business has to be to prosper.

To make things more interesting, those devices that we carry around all day, our incredible smartphones, are now used more often to search online than their bigger counterpart, the desktop computer.

Mobile Search Dominates

In an article on Search Engine Land back in May 2015, Google confirmed that more searches were taking place on mobile devices than on desktop. That’s a huge game changer and one that is critical to a businesses success.

You see, because more and more people are searching online with mobile devices, the placement of a business in the mobile version of the search results on Google becomes more important.

As people on smartphones have a high intent to find information about a local business, the play here is to not only show up in the organic search results on page 1 of Google but more importantly is to show up on the map pack.

What Is The Map Pack

The map pack has gotten more and more important over the last few years. Especially when Google revamped the map pack on a desktop search to bring the number of listings down from 7 all the way to 3.

This now matches the number of businesses that were displayed in the mobile 3 pack. Google also adjusted the UI a little bit to match mobile search, perhaps a way to unify the two.

Getting into the 3 pack is a must for a local business, both on desktop and mobile search, this is because the 3 pack shows up higher than most of the organic search results.

How cool is it now for a local business to have a chance to show up ahead of their competitors who may be ranking in organic results but not the map pack.

The important thing to remember here is that if your website or your client’s website is at the top of the organic search, you are most likely going to be at the top of the maps listings. This is because Google has something called the blended pack, where the organic rankings and map rankings blend together.

So if you are trying to built tons of citations and you are not getting up on the maps, then focus more on building up your organic rankings, this is because of the blended pack. Start with powering up your website with some backlinks from your outreach efforts at the same time as building your citations, and this should eventually get you up on both organic and maps.

Why Google My Business Is A Top Priority

It’s surprising that a lot of businesses still haven’t gotten the memo to set up their Google My Business page.

And worse than this, the ones that have set one up, haven’t bothered to optimize it and build it out. Things such as adding as many relevant categories, and creating a well optimized long as possible description without keyword stuffing.

The reason the Google My Business page is so important too is that of something called the NAP, which is the Name, Address, and Phone number of the business. You see, the format of this information on the Google My Business page, HAS to match exactly the format that shows up on your website, your citations sources, and your social profiles.

The Google My Business page is the de facto of the rest of the sites; Google feeds off of this to ensure that your NAP info everywhere else on the internet is correct.

Let’s take a look at an example. If your Google My Business page shows:

Joe’s Shoe Emporium
2189 Inglewood Avenue, Suite 210
Los Angeles, California, 90210

This is the way you have to type it out everywhere else on the internet. So because you used the word “Avenue” spelled out in full, you cannot go and start using “Ave”. Remember, Google is a computer, and things must match exactly.

Even the order of items needs to match, so don’t put on your money site “Suite 210”, before “2189 Inglewood Avenue” like this: “Suite 210–2189 Inglewood Avenue”.

Why Citations Are Your Best Friend

The key to ranking in maps is simple, build the same citations that your competitors have, then build a few more than them to get ahead.

There are hundreds of business directory sources that you can get your NAP info on. The usual suspects of Yelp, Yellowpages, 411, Foursquare, etc.

But did you know that citations are not just related to being on business directories like the ones above?

Here is what I mean, anywhere that you have your NAP is considered a citation. So what I teach my students is that you should also add your NAP info to your social accounts and profiles as well. This means that you can also get your NAP info on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Add your NAP info to your social accounts and profiles” quote=”Add your NAP info to your social accounts and profiles”]

All of a sudden you now have citations from some of the highest domain authority websites in the world.

Okay, so now for the main event. How you can figure out exactly which sites you need to build your citations on and add your NAP information to, so you can seriously challenge your competition online, and dominate the map pack.

How To Spy On Your Competitors Citations Sources

What if I told you that there was a source that tells you not only what citation sources you are on, but the entire map packs citation sources wrapped up and handed to you?

This service does exist, and its my go to site every time I am working on a campaign for one of my money sites or a local clients site, and its called Whitespark.

Whitespark is one of my favourite services for local citation building. An amazing Canadian company, they are the leader in managing and building up yours or your clients local SEO strategy.

You see, Whitespark offers a no brainer service, which starts out at only $20/month called Local Citation Finder.

The Local Citation Finder service allows you to find the key citation sources that your competitors have, that you also need to build to crush it in the local rankings.

I am going to walk you through step by step on how you can start using this service. I will assume that you have already signed up and have your account already set up.

Whitespark is super slick, smooth, and super easy to use for experts and beginners alike. For this example, we are going to spy on the competition for the keyword “Chicago Dentist”.

Step 1.

On your main accounts page, you will see a few services, press on “Local Citation Finder”.

Step 2.

The next screen shows you some tabs at the top and defaults to “Keyphrase Search”. If not, press that tab to activate it.

Step 3.

You want to select the country you are trying to find the citation sources for, in this example, we will choose “United States”.

Step 4.

The next field below is for location, here you want to enter in the city, in this example, we are going to type in “Chicago”. As soon as you start typing, a drop-down list appears, click on the correct city from the list.

Step 5.

The next one is one of the most important parts. It’s where you enter in the key phrase. It’s the keyword that you are trying to find the citations for. So in this example, we are going to enter in, “Dentist”.

Step 6.

When you tab out of that field, the next dropdown allows you to select the order of the search phrase. So here we see that we can select, “Dentist Chicago”, “Chicago Dentist”, “Dentist in Chicago”, “Dentist near Chicago”, or custom. For this example, we are going to select, “Chicago Dentist”.

Step 7.

This next option is great when you are doing local client SEO, because you can divide up these results to each client, by creating a project for each one of them.

Step 8.

You can select “Strict Search” if you see some junk results, to clean up the results a bit.

Step 9.

Simple. Press the “Search” button.

Now that you have run your query sit back and all you need to do is wait a few minutes. Whitespark is super fast at building the citation sources from the search results.

You will shortly get an email telling you that the results are now complete, “Your Search for “Chicago Dentist” is now complete. We found 762 potential citation opportunities for your search term.”

You can jump back into Whitespark, and press on the “Your Search Results” Tab. This houses all of your past search results. Your latest search will be at the top.

You will see the search term, the date of the search, the number of citation searches that Whitespark found, and then in the column on the far right, press on, “view sources”.

On the next screen, you can now see over 762 results for this search alone, a massive amount of results, and a ton of citation sources that you would have never thought to get your NAP on.

At the top of this page, you get the list of top ranking businesses in the map pack. Before about a week ago, this used to be the top 7, but now shows the top 3. You can right away go in and see the citation sources for each one of your competitors by pressing the “view sources” link in the top box.

Below the 3 pack, is a table with a massive amount of websites. These are the combined list of all the map packs citation sources. So now you have the entire list, which is crazy if you think about it, because if the site ranked #1, has a citation on website A for example, and the sites ranked 2 and 3 do not, this will still be added to the master list.

So this makes things even more powerful for you as you can be on potentially all citation sites that only a few of the map pack leaders are on.

So this makes things even more powerful for you as you can be on potentially all citation sites that only a few of the map pack leaders are on.

The important columns are of course the citation source on the far left. Then you have the DA column. You will want to sort by this column, this will tell you the Domain Authority of each source from highest to lowest. You will obviously want to start from the highest and work your way down with your citation link building.

There is another column which is the “Business Submission” column. This allows you to tell Whitespark to submit your very own website. So essentially you hire Whitespark to do your citation building for you, at a few dollars per citation source. This is great if you just don’t have the time to build and set up hundreds of citation sources.

Now here is where it gets really interesting and the power shifts into your favor.

There is a link which says, “Add A Business”. This is when your very own money site or client site is NOT in the 3 pack for the term you are trying to rank for. So now, when you add your very own businesses to the list, the 3 pack sites show up in the list along with yours. It gets even better!

The bread and butter is when you press on the link that says, “Compare Citations For Theses Businesses”. You get a pop up which appears with this awesome matrix of red x’s and green checkmarks. This tells you down the entire list of citation sources, which one your site, along with your competitors sites is on.

So its super easy from here on in, to just work your way down the list, and build a citation for each instance that your website shows up with a red x. You can export this to csv, or pdf and hand it off to your VA to work on for you.

It doesn’t get cooler or easier than that folks.

How To Power Up Your Citations (*Super Tip*)

Now that you have spent all of this time going out and building these wonderful new citations for your money site, do you just stop there? No way, here comes the best part of all — powering up your citations to get even more juice and authority from them.

After you have gone out and built your massive army of citation sources, arrange them by Domain Authority from highest to lowest, and pick a few of your heavy hitters.

These are the ones that you want to further power up to get some insane link juice going through them and then off to your money site. This totally helps you with your local maps as well, as you are not only helping your organic rankings by doing this, its showing Google that you deserve to be part of the coveted map pack.

The way to do this is simple: Your social fortress. Take some of your good old social media accounts and link directly to one of your citation sites. You can do one social media link, like your Facebook page to one citation source such as your Yelp profile for example.


As you can see, you are not only powering up the citation source, you are sending a high authority signal to it to. Wowsers! Make sure you do something like this for your Google My Business page as that is the prime website for local.

So now it’s your turn, leave me a message in the comments section below and tell me how this strategy worked out for you. How many competitors citations were you able to find?

Like what you read? Give Maher Abiad a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.