A lot of businesses tend to forget local SEO. They focus so much on general SEO they forget how valuable local SEO can be for their business.
For example, according to statistics, 72% of consumers visited a store within five miles of their location after doing a local search. Studies also show that 97% of people learn more about local companies online than other sources of information. Finally, 88% of mobile searches for local businesses end up with either a call or a visit to the business within 24 hours.
These compelling statistics are so significant that it would be such a wasted opportunity if we don’t start valuing local SEO. This is where Google Maps SEO comes in.
What is Google Maps SEO?
With Google Maps SEO, think of Search Engine Optimization that is localized to favour your business. When you search online for a particular product or service near you, Google Maps SEO will show businesses within your locality, assuming that you want to walk, bike, or drive to it.
For example, you need to find a shoe repair shop ASAP, and you don’t want to travel far, so you search for “shoe repair near me”. Google Maps SEO handles this with the proximity of users to your location, your business listing (which includes reviews, often local), and an optimized Google business profile.
We’ll explain these below, starting with ranking higher on Google Maps.
Why Rank Higher on Google Maps?
A “Google My Business Insights” study showed that businesses are found by users through discovery searches (84%) more often than through direct searches (16%). A discovery search is when a user searches for a category, product, or service that a business offers. A direct search is when a user searches for the name of a business.
Making sure that your business pops up on the first page of search results is important because you don’t want to get lost in the sea of competition. According to statistics, 92% of users will pick businesses that appear on the first page of local search results.
All this discoverability is going to go to waste if you don’t start investing in Google Maps SEO – as stated earlier, 72% of consumers want to visit a local business for what they desire.
What is a Google My Business Listing?
Google My Business is a tool that allows you to create and manage a Business Profile on Google. You can then further optimize this profile so you’ll rank better on search result pages.
A Google My Business Listing will mark your business in Google Maps. It shows users your business’ exact location and any other supporting information a user might need to get to where you are. In addition, users can leave reviews, add photos, ask questions, and also answer questions on your business profile.
Factors that Contribute to Your Ranking
Proximity of Users
The biggest factor that comes into play when ranking in Google Maps is your proximity to the user. Since most users are looking for something near to where they are, nearby businesses are given priority.
When it comes to this factor, there are not many optimizations that you can do to affect your ranking. Google prioritizes the nearest businesses because they want the search results to be convenient for the users. If your business isn’t close enough, there’s not much we can do about it.
Another significant factor that Google considers is the reviews that your business listing gets.
People often look at reviews to determine whether it’s worth visiting or not. Looking at what other previous customers have to say about a business gives them a realistic preview of the business. It’s also social proof of what other customers can expect when they come in for a visit.
Google also uses these reviews to determine if a business is worth suggesting or not. Naturally, Google ranks businesses with better reviews higher. It also ranks businesses with more reviews higher than those with few.
How Optimized is Your Google Business Profile?
Google, of course, also takes into account how optimized your Google business profile is. You have to make sure that your business profile is informative, has accurate information, and is easy to read. These things make it easier for users to understand and engage with your profile.
Google prioritizes business profiles that are helpful and detailed because it’s more convenient for users, generate more clicks, and therefore, more traffic to your site.
This is where other optimization strategies come in like using keywords in your business description. It’s also important to make sure that all of the information in your profile, like business hours, is regularly updated.
8 Tips to Rank Better in Google Maps
Complete and Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Claiming and verifying your Google My Business listing is like solidifying your claim on your business according to Google’s records. If you haven’t done that yet, you can check out this video by Google on How to add or claim your business on Google.
After that, you’ll need to verify your business with Google. This confirms that you are the manager of the account. For more information, you can watch this video of Google on How to verify your business on Google.
When optimizing your Google My Business, you must provide updated and accurate information. You’ll need to provide the following information:
- Business name
- Business location
- Working hours and holiday schedules
- Phone numbers
- Products and services
- Business description
You must insert keywords in your business description. It helps Google understand your business easily, again adding to your SEO ranking.
The more information that you provide in your business listing, the more Google understands what your business is. If Google understands what your business is about, it’s more likely to suggest your business to users. And the more information you have, the more users are likely to see you and respond.
When you’re creating the description of your business profile, you must incorporate your top target keywords. These keywords must be able to describe your business well, so it’s easier for users to find you when they type in those keywords. It also helps Google understand your business better, again adding to your SEO ranking.
When you’re setting up your business profile, Google will ask you to fill out what category your business belongs to. A lot of businesses tend to ignore this because they feel like it’s not that important, but actually, it’s really helpful in making you rank higher.
For instance, going back to the “shoe repair” example, if you are a shop that repairs shoes, your primary category is shoe repair, but not shoe factory. The primary category is the main category that your business belongs to. You can also include subcategories that help describe your business further. You can include up to 9 subcategories in total.
But despite being able to include 9 subcategories, it’s advised that you only include 4 subcategories. Adding too many subcategories will only confuse Google and make it hard for it to accurately recommend your business to users.
Include High-Quality Photos
Your business profile should include lots of high-quality photos. This helps users better gauge if it’s the kind of establishment that they want to go to. These photos should preferably be taken during working hours. It gives users a realistic preview of what happens in the business on a regular day.
This will also give you the chance to be featured in Google images. Since Google is constantly working on advancing its photo-recognition technology, local search results are increasingly featured.
Build Niche Citations
Like with any SEO, building niche and local relevance through on-page and off-page optimizations include being cited on websites of other local businesses or blog posts.
When you get links like these with other websites or blog posts in the same niche, it helps prove the authenticity of your business. These citations must mention your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number). These further reinforce that your business listing is accurate and authentic.
As mentioned earlier, higher reviews will help you rank higher on Google Maps. Aside from that, more reviews will also make your business look more realistic.
That’s why making it easy for your users to review your business on Google Maps is important. You can do this by providing them links to review your business. To make it even more convenient, you can make it a QR code so users just need to scan them to review your business.
It’s important to note, though, that you don’t post a bunch of reviews all at once. This can look suspicious to Google; the implication is that too many reviews in too short a time look like you hired a bunch of people to flood your review page.
It’s also important to note that you don’t have to be scared of negative reviews unless they outnumber your positive reviews. A few negative reviews make your business look authentic. After all, a business that only gets positive reviews can appear to both users and Google as non-legitimate.
Embed Google Maps on Your Website
You may not know this but embedding Google Maps on your website is a good way to rank higher on Google Maps. This is why you can usually find Google Maps on the Contact Us page of websites.
When you embed Google Maps of your business on your website, it solidifies your claim that your listing is where you claim it to be. This is because Google can see that the address you have on your website is the same as the address on your Google Maps business listing.
Include Social Media
It’s important to get your business get talked about on social media. This includes getting engagement like shares, likes, and any other interactions with your business.
This helps more users find your business and for search engines to understand your business better. And just like most points here, it helps solidify the accuracy and authenticity of your business listing.
What is NAP when it comes to local citations?
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. It’s important to have this information mentioned in local citations to help Google authenticate the information on your business listing.
What does GMB mean?
GMB stands for Google My Business. This is a record of your business on Google, which can be seen on Google Maps.
Are a few constant reviews better than many reviews in short bursts?
Yes, a few, but a constant number of reviews is better because Google will simply see it as people are continuously visiting the business. Google tends to see many reviews in short bursts as suspicious.
Should I be worried if I get negative reviews on my business listing?
Negative reviews actually make your business look authentic. After all, you can’t please everyone, so you’re bound to get negative reviews at some point. It will start becoming concerning if the negative reviews outnumber your positive reviews.
Google Maps SEO is important if you want to attract local users to your business. It helps you pop up more often when users search for “____ near me” because Google finds your business listing a good business to suggest.
Multiple factors contribute to your ranking. These are the users’ proximity, reviews of your business listing, and how optimized your profile is. The first factor, proximity, cannot be influenced because this is based on the user’s location. But reviews and optimization are factors that you can influence to increase your ranking.
Multiple tips can increase your ranking on Google Maps. It can be overwhelming to apply these tips all at once, so take your time applying them one by one.
Investing in Google Maps SEO ensures you can attract local traffic to your website. It will also make sure that you make your mark on the map. It maximizes the opportunity of attracting users in the area to your business.