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When we talk about local SEO, Google Maps comes to mind. This is because Google Map results show up when a query implies local results are needed, for instance, when you look up something like “Italian restaurants near me”, or “managed IT Services San Diego”. Boosting your Google Maps ranking for relevant searches is becoming all the more important since Google Maps is the preferred navigation app for 67% of consumers. Google Maps listing helps new customers discover you, helps you stand out amongst the local competition, and of course, nurtures more leads and generates higher profits. Since we have already established that ranking high in google maps is another way to get on the first page of Google, here’s how to do it right:
To get started on Google Maps marketing, you need to check whether your business is already listed on Google Maps. Simply type your business name on the search bar and if it shows up with a location next to it, it means you already have a listing. If not, you first need to add your business to Google Maps. If your business name doesn’t appear on Google maps, you will see an option to “add a missing place”. Click on the link provided and add your business name, accurate location, and category. Choosing the right category makes sure your business shows up for relevant search results and allows your target audience to connect more effectively.
Don’t be alarmed if your business has already been added to Google Maps. Remember that anyone can add any business to Google Maps, but doing so doesn’t give them any control over that listing unless you claim your business. Claiming your business on Google Maps allows you to add more details about your business in addition to name, location, and category. Businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches and rank higher. To claim your business on Google Maps, you need to sign up for a free Google My Business account. Once you have created an account, you can choose “Claim this business” or “Own this business?” from the listings. Google will send you a postcard in the mail with a secret verification pin which has to be entered to claim the ownership of your business. After verifying your account, you’ll be able to make changes to your account information, upload new photos, and publish posts. Now that you have linked your Google My Business account with your Google Maps business listing, it is time to work on acquiring top search rankings and appearing in relevant local searches on Google Maps.
To start optimizing your listing for local SEO, your Google Maps listing information should be complete, accurate, and as thorough as possible. From your account dashboard, click on info, and update your business information, making sure to avoid inconsistencies in information across the web. Remember that Google’s algorithm assesses the correctness and integrity of information to gauge your credibility. for instance, let’s say you run a business called “New York coffee express”. Make sure this name appears the same in your Google My Business dashboard as everywhere else online like your business website, Yelp listing, and Facebook profile. Even slight variations, such as “NY coffee Express” can ruin your credibility and trustworthiness.
The same goes for your phone number. Always utilize a local phone number with your area code, and avoid listing a toll-free number since they are often used for spam. This further goes to prove that your business is indeed located at the provided address.
Also, be sure to keep your business hours updated so that people searching for your business will know whether you are open, closed, or opening soon at any time, as well as when your business will be open during holidays and other events. Businesses that update their business hours frequently are seen as active by Google, which helps them rank higher. Not to mention, you don’t want a bad review just because someone visited your store and it was closed despite appearing open on Google Maps. Also, you need to craft a keyword-rich business description that will help customers understand what you do, as well as rank for relevant searches. Make sure to list the unique selling points in your description to sell people on why you are the best.
Furthermore, make sure your business is listed in the appropriate category that matches properly in close context with the main keywords. You need to think this one through and choose a primary category that best reflects the core of your business. For the secondary category, type out your main for other relevant categories too.
Last but not the least, you need to upload photos and videos to boost your Google Maps listing rankings. If right now you were to take a look at where your traffic is coming from, I guarantee you it won’t be from the website or maps. It’s from images or photos. Even Google users can add photos directly to your business or at the time of writing a review. Visitors like a visual appreciation of a product, place, or service, and enjoy looking at pictures of the building, the parking space, photos of your products, peaks inside offices or workspaces, and even pictures of employees at work. Pictures say a lot about a business at a glance and help customers visualize what it is like to be inside. Not to mention, pictures show Google that you are an active business. High-quality images are useful for another purpose as well. Google’s highly advanced photo recognition technology shows up images for local search queries. Don’t let your pictures sit stagnantly. Be sure to upload new pictures frequently. Make sure that your pictures are either in JPG or PNG, sized between 10KB and 5MB, well-lit, and devoid of filters. NEVER use stock photos or videos on your Google My Business listing!
Consumers of today make sure to check out reviews from other customers before choosing a business or making a purchase. Since Google takes the preference of customers into consideration when ranking a business, it doesn’t come as a shock that Google Maps ranking depends upon how many positive reviews your business listing has received. In fact, research shows that Google reviews yield higher conversion rates than local SEO strategies and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.
Even if you are not getting many reviews, be proactive in asking for reviews from satisfied customers and clients, and be sure to respond to each review separately to encourage others to post reviews as well. Especially responding to those far and between negative reviews shows how proficient you are at solving customer issues and how much you care about your clients. Even better, ask reviewers to use appropriate keywords or city names within their review, which will help you rank above other businesses in your area. You should also use keywords to reply to all your reviews on Google My Business
To boost your rankings on Google Maps, make sure to craft a compelling and visually aesthetic landing page and attach it to your Google My Business listings. In addition to design, write powerful content punctuated with appropriate keywords, geo-tagged images, and related geo modifiers. Even having articles on your site that mention your city helps a lot!
Just like on Facebook, you should regularly publish content that directly appears on your listing page. Businesses that continue to push out compelling articles, photos, and videos appear active to Google algorithms and rank higher as a result. People who are searching on search engines can come across these pages as a result of your content and find your business. GMB posts are also beneficial for “Justifications.” Google might pull up a post to help ‘justify’ why a particular result is a good match for your query. For instance, if you look up “furnace repair bend Oregon”, this is what shows up:
For the first result, the justification is being pulled from the website, while for the second, one of the GMB reviews is used in lieu of justification.
It is not uncommon for users to ask questions about a Google My Business listing. As a business owner, you need to answer their questions and solve their issues. If there are no questions on your listing yet, you should determine the most frequently asked questions about your products and services and populate your page with those queries from a different email ID. Now login from your business email address, click on each question and add an answer. Ask your team members to like all the questions and answers, since the question with the most likes show up on the listing panel