The recent buzz in Local Search is a new display feature in Google Maps that is rapidly becoming known in the search world as the K pack. Now, in addition to the lettered map points you see for the top ranking businesses in Google’s Local Search, you’ll also see map points for every business that Maps lists for that search in that location.
What’s Good About It?
Even if your business is not ranked highly in the Maps algorithm (for whatever reason), searchers will still see your location on the map. They can then click on the map point representing your business, see the familiar information bubble and then click onto to your Local Business Listing. This should serve to send more traffic to more different businesses, rather than the advantage going to those who rank well in the algorithm.
The K pack also makes your physical location and how it compares to the location of your competitors and to the searcher’s location much more obvious. Depending on the niche, this may benefit businesses with convenient locations and locations close to population concentrations. It allows searchers to refine the results they see in ways that can be very useful to them.
For example, if I’m visiting downtown Denver, Colorado, staying at the Brown Palace hotel and am looking for a place for dinner, I might search “restaurants denver lodo” and see this result:
That’s way too many to choose from, so I’ll narrow it down to “mexican restaurants denver lodo” and see this:
That’s still a lot to choose from and I want to walk to dinner, so I’ll zoom in and see which ones are close to my hotel and see this:
What’s Not So Good About It?
If you rank well in the Google Maps algorithm, some of the advantage you have enjoyed may now be lessened. However, at least for now, you’ll still be featured in the Local 10 pack as it appears at the top of the Google Universal results.
Right now, there appear to be a lot of points that don’t have any business showing up on the maps where they appear.
The Future of the K Pack
I’d really like to see the K pack points displayed on the map that appears along with the Local 10 pack in the Universal results, too, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this added in the near future. I’d also like to be able to choose two or more maps to overlay – say ATMs and brew pubs, or one hour dry cleaning and haircuts- but that may be a little slower in coming.
Local Search marketers are already busy trying to figure out how to use this new feature to promote brick and mortar businesses online and searchers will undoubtedly discover ways to use the K pack that neither I nor Google has yet imagined. That’s what keeps my job interesting!
See the Google Lat Long Blog for more background, info and examples of how the K Pack can be used.