You’ve optimized your website. You’ve set up social media accounts. Maybe you’re even on YouTube.
But you know what will really help your business rank? Optimizing your Google Maps profile.
It’s a simple process, especially if you’ve already optimized your Google My Business listing, but it’s a step many businesses overlook. Sadly, that means missing out on spontaneous foot traffic, higher SERPs rankings, and some of the most powerful signals for local SEO.
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Do I Really Need To Optimize My Google Maps Listing?
Although it’s frequently overlooked when businesses cultivate their online presence, Google Maps is an important factor for SERPs. Together with Google My Business, it tells the search engine who your company is, what it does, whether it’s relevant to a user’s search, and how likely users are to be satisfied with your company.
Google My Business, or GMB, is a database that Google maintains on thousands of businesses worldwide. Similar to a phone book, it stores information like a business’ name, phone number, address, and hours of operation. Google Maps uses information in GMB to provide local search results to searchers.
But Maps also builds on GMB by bringing together reviews from your GMB, sites like Yelp!, and even social media. It draws in pictures of your business from around the web and provides searchers an overall sense of your business. Often, this is a potential customer’s first introduction to your business, so it’s essential to make a good impression!
How Google Maps Impacts Local Search
Local search is an important part of any online marketing plan. This is because local search is extremely effective at bringing in new clients and those clients frequently convert. Consider the following statistics:
- 60% of American adults search for local products or services using a mobile device.
- 50% of users who perform a local search on their phone visit one of the stores from their search that same day.
- 80% of local searches result in a conversion.
So what role does Maps play?
Many of Maps’ features rely on a user’s location to determine what is included in SERPs for that user’s query. This can be a huge benefit if your business is close by, especially if you rank in the Google Local Pack. These top three results will appear with more detailed information about their businesses like services they offer, hours of operation, and reviews, as well as their location marked on Google Maps. Making into one of these top positions isn’t easy, but can make a tremendous difference in how users perceive your business.
How Can I Make It Into The Google Local Pack?
Just because you optimize your Maps listing doesn’t guarantee you’ll appear in top search spots. Many factors influence who makes it into the Local Pack, but in general, Google considers three things when delivering local search results:
- Proximity: One of the most important factors for Google Maps results is how close a business is to the person searching.
- Relevance: Obviously, Google doesn’t want to return results that aren’t helpful. Using keywords and category tags, Maps will try to present businesses that offer a product or service related to the user’s search.
- Prominence: Maps wants to suggest businesses that are likely to satisfy the searcher. Therefore, it prioritizes businesses that are popular and well-liked.
It may seem like there’s only so much you can do to influence your business’ proximity and relevance, but there are many steps in optimizing your Google Maps listing that can increase your chances of appearing in the local pack.
How Do I Optimize My Google Maps Listing?
Just like with SEO, optimizing your Google Maps listing is about being clear and intentional in how you describe your business to Google. The more complete, accurate, and clear you are, the better Google will understand your business and when to return it in SERPs. In turn, that leads to higher rankings, better quality traffic, and more conversions.
- Optimize your Google My Business listing. The most important step in ranking higher on Google Maps is optimizing your Google My Business listing. Before you can even appear on Maps, you must have a GMB listing. If you already have a listing, be sure to fill in as much information about your company as possible and check the accuracy of information that is already there. If you don’t have a GMB, you can create one here.
- Create or claim your Maps listing. If your business does not appear on Google Maps, you can go here and add yourself. Or if your business has already been added, you can claim a Maps listing as long as you have a GMB listing. Simply go to your Maps listing and there will be a button to “claim this business.” Clicking the button will walk you through the necessary steps of taking control of that listing.
- Keep your info updated and accurate. Google rewards businesses that update their GMB often. This is because each update signals to Google that your information is more likely to be accurate. But updating doesn’t just mean confirming your telephone number is right for the hundredth time. Take advantage of features like Posts, which allow you to share updates about sales, new products or services, changes in hours, or pictures of your office, staff, or products. Here at TracSoft, we share an excerpt from our weekly blog posts to our GMB along with a link to the full post. The point is to keep tweaking your GMB and Maps listings so they stay fresh and generate interest.
- Have a business description and use category tags. It’s really tempting to slap your address and phone number into your GMB and call it a day, but remember when I talked about how Maps uses proximity and relevance to return search results? Part of the way Maps determines those things is by the keywords and tags in your GMB. Including good keywords and using accurate tags will dramatically increase how you rank on Maps, so take the time to get them right.
- Encourage users to provide online reviews for your business. Although Maps listings automatically invite users to leave reviews, that’s not enough to convince most users to do so. Instead, you’ll probably need to nudge them. The best way is to make it easy by including shortcuts to the review form on the header or footer of your website, in your newsletter, on blog posts, and on emails. You can also just ask! If a customer has a great interaction, tell them their review will help you out.
- In addition to getting reviews, make sure you respond to reviews as well. Customers appreciate a friendly “thanks” or “come back soon” after they’ve taken the time to sing your praises. But responding to negative reviews is also beneficial. Often, it can turn a bad experience into a good one. And even when it doesn’t convince a dissatisfied customer to change their review, it does show you care about customer service and are willing to try and make things right.
- Invest time in link building. One of the most important factors for ranking on Google is backlinks. Having authoritative sites link back to you tells Google that you are also an authoritative site. While all quality backlinks are beneficial to your SERPs ranking, Alex Ratynski of Moz rightly points out that building local links is especially important for increasing your Maps ranking in particular. Further, local links are much more likely to convert. If you’re not sure how to begin local link building, Ratynski has a stellar guide to get you started.
- Get your Google My Business listing verified through email, phone, or mail. Verifying your business will increase your visibility on Google Maps, earning you one of those snazzy, red beacons that shows up over prominent locations in the app. You’ll also gain access to performance data for your GMB, giving you insight into how customers find you, which search terms they use, how many customers call you or visit your website by clicking on links in your GMB, and more. This data can even be integrated into Google Analytics so all your data’s in one place.
Put Your Business On The Map—Google’s Map
Digital marketing is a full-time job! That’s why many of our clients count on us to handle it for them. Whether it’s setting up your Google My Business listing or setting up your Google Adwords campaign, you can count on us to get you noticed.
Contact TracSoft today to learn more about our SEO, social media, and PPC advertising services.