Google Maps has made it easy to track locations and find different establishments, making it a powerful tool for marketing local businesses. Whether you have a single branch or multiple branches across different locations, having your company show up in the top results of a map search can do wonders for your SEO.
When planning your SEO strategy, you might be thinking about optimizing your site’s content or building a quality link-building structure. However, many often focus on search engine results pages (SERPs) and forget about the power of Google Maps search results for local optimization.
Solidifying your presence in Google Maps is key to reaching more potential customers for your business. With the competitive business landscape today, it is important to understand how the popular mapping tool can be a powerful platform for local SEO.
30 Second Summary:
- Google Maps is the most popular navigation app.
- Prominent rankings in Google Maps increases a business’ visibility, credibility, and local reach that influences purchase decisions.
- Optimizing and tracking your business in Google Maps is critical for Local SEO.
- Google Maps rankings depend on proximity, relevance and prominence along with profile enhancements any business owner can apply.
What is Google Maps?
First and foremost, what is Google Maps? To put it simply, Google Maps is the most popular navigation app used today. It outperforms other apps by a margin, with 67% of users choosing the platform over 12% who choose Waze, the second most popular platform. Through the years, navigation apps have evolved to serve more than just their primary function, so they are also used for non-driving purposes.
Overall, people are becoming increasingly reliant on technology to get from one point to another. While many continue to use navigation apps like Google Maps for driving directions, others use it for walking, taking public transportation, and similar functions.
Benefits of Using Google Maps For Your Business
So, you might be wondering: How exactly can Google Maps be used for your business? Nowadays, the app has become a critical part of the buyer’s journey as it can influence purchase decisions while customers are doing research.
For example, if a person is looking for a nearby restaurant, they can easily type “Restaurants near me” on their search engine to get recommendations. For these types of searches, Google will usually show a Maps result to give you the exact pin location of the suggested restaurants. Most likely, they would jump straight to the map to check out your options and decide where to go from there.
Users often skip the organic results when doing local searches since they want to know the location of the top recommendations. Thus, ranking on Google maps offers you several benefits, with some of the biggest ones being:
Increased Brand Visibility
Users who look for businesses in your location are most likely to be those who convert to paying customers. As such, achieving top ranks on Google Maps will significantly increase your brand visibility and help you lure more customers into your business.
Google Maps displays customer reviews on your listing, and these can have a huge impact on your credibility. When it comes to local SEO, reviews are perhaps one of the most powerful tools you can use to get more customers to trust in your brand and what you have to offer.
A top advantage of doing Google Maps marketing is it helps you reach your target audience more effectively. Since you are trying to appeal to users looking for a business of your nature and in your location, you have a higher chance of reaching your intended market.
Google Maps’ street view feature eliminates the need for users to read long chunks of text since the map easily gets the point across. It makes the overall experience more comfortable and optimal, which can be a huge benefit in engaging with customers and keeping them interested in what you have to offer.
Google Maps Ranking Algorithm
When you select SEO practices to rank well on SERPs, you have to consider Google’s ranking algorithm, including factors like mobile friendliness and content quality. With Google Maps, the same principles apply. The search engine also uses an algorithm to determine what results to show users.
That said, what is the Google Maps ranking algorithm? Before you can dive deeper into the practices to help you rank, you must first understand the top signals that Google Maps uses to rank businesses. While the list can be quite comprehensive, these ranking factors generally hold the most weight in the algorithm:
- Google My Business signals
- Link signals
- Review signals
- On-page signals
- Citation signals
You might notice that the signals are slightly different from those in Google’s organic search algorithm. It is primarily because Google Maps uses a local algorithm to find the most appropriate businesses to show users. After looking at each of the signals, Google will then evaluate them based on three key areas. These include:
Proximity essentially refers to the distance of a particular search result to the user’s location, which is determined based on the keywords inputted in the search query or the information that it has on the user. Naturally, Google will prioritize the listings closest to the user since the idea is to suggest a destination that has the shortest distance.
Relevance may be another familiar factor since Google also looks at this to determine organic search results. With Google Maps, it serves the same purpose, where the search engine also tries to look for results that match what a user is looking for as closely as possible.
To ensure that Google finds your business relevant to your target audience, you must have complete and accurate information to help the search engine understand your offer. This way, you have a better chance of showing up on relevant searches from users who will most likely be your customers.
Prominence looks into how well-known and authoritative a business is, which Google assesses based on many factors. If a location is popularly visited in real life, this will count towards its prominence.
For this key area, Google will also be looking at information about your business from the web. Whether it be reviews, links, articles, or other similar references, these will also affect your prominence for the local algorithm.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing
Before anything else, you want to make sure Google can find you to rank on maps results so that you will need a Google My Business (GMB) account. It will be a critical component in your local SEO strategy since the information you place there will ultimately affect your Google Maps ranking. To get you started on the basics, here are some key steps to take:
Complete Your Profile
Start by filling in all the details needed to complete your GMB profile, so that customers can learn the basic information about your company. Many business owners do not realize that other Google users can suggest edits that may get published on your listings. It increases the risk of false information getting posted, so you can avoid it by filling out all the right details from the start.
Verify Your Listing
After you complete your profile and register yourself as the business owner, you can verify your listing. Doing this prevents other people from altering your information since it grants you sole access to edits and changes. It may take time, usually a few weeks, before you get your listing verified, so it is best to get this done as early as possible.
Include All Applicable Categories
If your business operates in different industries or you have a wide range of offerings, you must include all the relevant categories in your listing. Google requires you to choose one primary category, but you can add multiple sub-categories to describe your business more accurately.
Adding all the applicable categories to your profile helps you maximize your optimization efforts. It also provides Google with more information about your business to ensure your listing shows up in the most matchable search queries.
Add Optimized Photos
Similar to how images can engage readers in your website, optimized photos will also help attract users and make your business look more enticing to them. These will be particularly useful if you offer a service and ambiance is an important factor for customers, such as restaurants and spas.
Gather Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are another essential part of Google Maps marketing since they are used to build your credibility and improve customer trust. Nowadays, users are more cautious about their purchasing decisions, so they often turn to reviews before supporting a brand or visiting a company.
At the same time, Google has also emphasized on reviews, making sure to consider this when ranking businesses. However, the quality of reviews will also be assessed, so it is not just about having as many reviews as possible. Naturally, you also have to make sure customers have positive sentiments and put in a good word.
Tracking GMB Results
Similar to SEO, GMB optimization is an ongoing effort, and the best way to maximize results is by tracking the outcomes of your strategies. Fortunately, with a GMB account, you can easily view your analytics by checking the “Insights” tab. It gives you valuable information on the queries that returned your listing, how many images were viewed, how many times your listing appeared in Google Maps, and the like.
As always, tracking will be key to continuous improvement. Understanding your insights gives you a good idea of where you are performing well and in what areas can you do better to make more informed decisions.
How We Can Help
Like any other digital marketing technique, Google Maps marketing is a process that takes time to accomplish and see results. However, with the proper techniques in place, you can generate significantly more local leads, which will drive sales. As with any other strategy, it will be an ongoing effort to rank on Google Maps, so you must always monitor your results and make changes as you see fit.
Our SEO company has over 24 years of experience working with all types of websites across all industry sectors. We can help your local business get the rankings and recognition you deserve. Call us toll-free at 1-888-262-6687.