Now that this prime real estate is more available to local companies, the question is how to take advantage of it. While these results may seem arbitrary, remember that nothing with computers is arbitrary. You should also realize that Away Marketing is a relatively new company that has floated to the top in a sea of tough competitors in the advertising field. Also realize that your position on the page could change at the drop of a hat because of something Google does on their end.
Since these results are pulled from Google Maps, the first place to go to optimize your position is Google Local to check out your profile (or create a new one). While Google has not released a definitive explanation for how these rankings are done, we can gather clues based on how our competitors are positioned. All of the clues seem to point to a few common factors:
1. Proximity to city center. The closer your business address is listed to what Google recognizes as the center of the city, the higher you are likely to rank. To identify the Google center, do a search for the name of the city you are targeting in Google Maps. Google Maps will drop an icon right on the center of town.
2. Completeness of profile. The more complete your profile, the more likely you are to get a high rank. Also, since Google searches all local directories, it's a good idea to have very complete, consistent profiles in all the major local directories (do a search for yellow pages, and start filling out profiles). I have noticed that Google tends to favor BBB listings.
3. Reviews. A review or two on Google Maps is likely to give your placement a boost as well. Google also pulls reviews from many other sites, so you may already have reviews there. The way I feel about reviews is that you can almost always use more. Make sure they're good reviews, though. Phony reviews are easy to spot and they ruin the integrity of the review system.
A final note: Google Maps results are becoming more and more visible. Don't get left behind on this one.