Google Maps can be an overwhelming place. When you’re trying to make sure your business listing is showing correctly in search results, you might find yourself getting a little bit obsessed with the Google Maps symbols.
Most of the time, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the way Google Maps results appear. One day, you’re the most prominent result, and the next day you don’t even make the list.
Understanding the various markers and icons is the first step to being able to make the most of search results. It’s also essential for competitor research, as it helps to know what your competitors are doing.
Navigating Google Maps
To find your way around the Google maps page, you need to get to grips with the controls in the bottom right corner. In the main SERP, your controls will be limited. You will only be able to zoom in and out. But when you move over to maps.google.com you will see the “explore” bar.
The crosshair icon will zoom in to your location, if you have location services enabled.
The + and – buttons allow you to zoom in and out.
The two up arrows open the “explore” bar and allow you to see images of the area.
The yellow man can be dragged and dropped onto the map to switch to street view.
In the bottom left, you may see a small box which says “satellite” or “map”. This allows you to toggle between the two views.
How are search results displayed?
The first thing to note is that the symbols and results will change depending on where you start your search. If you start on the main Google search page, you will see different results to searches completed on maps.google.com and even on the Google maps app.
In the main SERP, you will see three top results, and these are noted with a red drop pin. You will also see red dots on the map to show there are additional results. Click through to the larger map, and you’ll now see a longer list of Google results down the side.
Each red dot will now become a red drop pin. And now, you’ll also see green drop pins in the results. These are adverts. The adverts don’t always show up on a mobile device. And as you move around the map, you may notice that the advertised venues will change.
Symbols in the drop pins
You may notice that some drop pins have a red or green circle while others have a small bag symbol. These symbols are used to show different venue types. A small bed is a hotel, while a shopping trolley marks a supermarket. A mortarboard hat marks schools and universities, and an open book marks a library. Listing your business under the right category on your Google My Business page will ensure you have the right symbol.
The colour of the drop pin symbol is also important. Outdoor spaces are always in green. Restaurants, cafes and bars are orange. Shops and supermarkets are blue. Hotels are pink. Cultural attractions are light blue. Cash machines, banks, parking and petrol stations are in purple. When a user searches specifically for a certain category, then the results will show up in red. But if you are browsing a map in a particular area, the results will be colour coded.
What are the stars, hearts and flags?
The pink hearts, yellow stars and green flags are only visible to you. These are locations that you have added to your favourites in the past. You can find your list of saved locations by going to maps.google.com and clicking on the burger menu in the top left of your screen. From here, you’ll see “Your Locations”.
Want to make sure your Google map is up and running correctly on your website? We’ve put together this guide.
We’ve also shared our tips for reaching more local customers using your GMB profile.