Occasionally when looking at the Map Pack, you might notice that Google has decided to show you a listing that has no reviews and no website.  This can be kind of frustrating if you've worked hard on your own website and diligently gathered reviews.

Why on Earth would Google choose to show that listing?  

In fact, if I search for "plumbers" near me, the Map Pack has not one, but two results without reviews, one of which has no website on top of that.

You might feel like giving up on local SEO after you've seen results like this.

The good news, though, is that you're not getting the full picture when you're only spot checking from one location.

The full picture emerges when I do the same search for "plumber" across a grid of points instead of from just one location.

Roto-Rooter on the left compared with Rooter & Sons Plumbing on the right.

Roto-Rooter, with over a thousand reviews and a solid website, is in the Map Pack at least 23 times (i.e. they rank 1-3).  Rooter & Sons Plumbing, with zero reviews, is in the Map Pack a grand total of twice by comparison.

Having a listing with no reviews or website pop up in the Map Pack is a pretty common scenario, just because location is such a powerful signal in local SEO.  When you look at an entire area, however, you'll see that the listings that claim the most territory have much stronger review profiles, as well as solid websites.

So, how often do listings with no website or reviews appear in the Map Pack?

Taking a step back from the specific example above, I thought it would be interesting to find out how listings with no website or reviews fared vs. the rest.  To do that, I pulled in ranking data on over 1,000 plumber listings.

My hypothesis is that, even though they sometimes appear in the Map Pack, these "thin" listings will perform poorly when compared to those with more robust profiles.

To test this hypothesis, I pulled all of the GMB ranking data from Persuaded.io – this sample came to roughly 10,000 geo-located Google searches.

From this graph, we can see that while thin GMB listings do sometimes make it into the Map Pack (positions 1-3), they are more prevalent as you dig further into the results.  For reference, about 8.7% of all listings in the sample had no website or reviews.

Location, location, location

Distance from the searcher is one of the most powerful local search factors.  I like to think of location as almost like gravity – strong GMB listings can have a much larger orbit, but even so, they're limited by location.

Instead of looking just at how many "thin" listings appeared in the Map Pack, let's dig deeper and see how far from the searcher these listings are.

To begin with, for each ranking position I broke down listings into groups based on distance from searcher.  The first pass examines listings with a website and at least five reviews.

Website and Five or More Reviews
Rank 0-1km 1km 2km 5km 10km 20km >30km # Listings # Pins

As an example, I can see from this data that of the 5,375 "position one" search locations checked, 11.65% of them turned up a listing less than one kilometer away. At the opposite end, 3.09% of these searches found a listing more than 30km away in position one.

Now we'll contrast that data with listings having no website and no reviews.

No Website and No Reviews
Rank 0-1km 1km 2km 5km 10km 20km >30km # Listings # Pins

The striking difference is that these listings almost never make it into the Map Pack (positions 1-3) if they are more than 20km away.  The Map Pack listings here are also much more likely to be less than a kilometer away from the search location.

To look at it from yet another angle, here's a graph of average distance from the searcher vs. ranking position.

Aside from a blip around fifth position, it's clear that "thin" listings have consistently less geographic search visibility.  Unlike thin listings, more robust listings can fit into the Map Pack, but still be as far as almost 10km away from the location of the searcher.

I hope this post reassures you that your efforts have not been in vain when you see thin listings in the Map Pack.  Yes, they do make it into the Map Pack, but not as often as you might think!

Local SEO Software

Most of the research for this case study was done using the Persuaded.io local SEO toolset. You can use Persuaded.io for hyper local rank tracking, spam busting, and much more. New users start with a credit, and you can try it without any signup required.