As one of the most popular and frequently-used navigation tools on the web, Google Maps is an extremely valuable source of traffic if you know how to use it correctly. Those who rank high on Google Maps search listings can expect local customers to find them quickly and easily – delivering significant results in terms of traffic and revenue.
To rank higher on Google Maps, you’ll need to take advantage of a number of different local SEO optimisation methods in order to boost your listing. Here are some of our top tips that you can take advantage of to get your business climbing the Google Maps SEO rankings in no time at all.
Why rank higher on Google Maps?
You’ll know by now that ranking high on Google is unbelievably beneficial for your business – but what difference, if any, would ranking at the top of on Google Maps make? It turns out, a lot.
More than a billion people use Google Maps every month – to say that’s some serious reach is a massive understatement! If you can climb the rankings on Google Maps for your specific niche and location, you’re going to be laughing. Users rarely look past the first few results when they’re looking for a service, so optimising your Google Maps listing in order to show in the top spots for relevant searches is one of the most important things you can do for your business.
The majority of people browsing Google Maps business listings have ended up there based on ‘discovery’ searches – as in, based on keywords – as opposed to ‘direct’ searches where the user is looking for the specific brand name. This is why it’s important to ensure that you’ve covered all bases during your keyword research stage in order to hit the exact terms your potential customers are searching for.
It’s also important to remember that ultimately, the local SEO changes that you make to improve the quality of your listing will also help your business become more accessible for potential customers to engage with. A positive user experience is essential, no matter where you are on the web, and Google will reward your business for making these changes by boosting your listing.
Ranking higher on Google Maps typically means ranking on the first page of Google Search as well. The top three Google Maps listings for a specific search term will also display on the regular Google Search results if relevant and applicable – something that will significantly increase the visibility of your brand for the 46% of users that search with local intent, according to Safari Digital.
Optimise your Google Business Profile
First off, you’ll want to ensure that your Google Business Profile is claimed and optimised. Without this step, you’ll be unable to establish your visibility on maps so make it the very first thing you do.
If you’ve not claimed your listing yet, the first thing you’ll want to do is search for your business name on either Google or Google Maps and then, as soon as you’ve found it, you’ll need to verify your listing.
Once you’ve done this, you should then prioritise editing it with the relevant information – you can even do this directly from the search results. Your Google Business Profile provides Google with the primary signal it needs to alert it to your business’ existence, so all the information you’ve provided is expected to be completely accurate and up-to-date.
These details will then be cross-referenced with the information on your website and local directories and resources, so it’s crucial that all the info you provide is correct.
The more details you include in your profile, the better. Having a fully fleshed-out informative and professional business listing will benefit you when it comes to climbing the rankings on Google Maps.
If you can think of any information that could be useful to potential customers – include it! Think about the area of your company’s operations, a category that best describes your industry and niche and also your opening hours.
A clear, concise company description containing relevant information about your business is key. You should always ensure your business is categorised properly in order to keep you displayed for phrases related to your niche.
Images are also crucial. Make sure all images you upload to the profile are high-quality and perfectly reflect your brand. This includes a high-res upload of your logo and any important images that clearly reflect what your business does.
Images inform Google that you’re active and considerate of your customer’s needs and informational requirements – something they’ll reward with high rankings. Google now analyses images thoroughly and precisely in order to ensure they’re relevant. If they are, you can also expect to see higher rankings and images displayed in local search results.
Ensure your website is fully responsive
There are a few internal local SEO changes you’ll also need to make in order to ensure you’ve got the best possible chance at reaching the higher rankings on Google Maps. Making sure your website is responsive is one of these
Generally, you should always ensure your website is responsible – full stop – as it can impact a number of different factors across SEO and UX/CRO. Your main priority should be to make sure your website is responsive across all devices and screen sizes with no functional issues.
This means that, when a mobile user clicks through to your website through the Google Business listing, it should be quick to load without any pinching or zooming needed to see clearer. All links should also work. If this isn’t the case for your website, expect your Google Maps ranking to stay pretty low.
You will find that a lot of local searches are done through mobile devices, as people tend to be out and about when they are looking for local businesses.
Post regular updates
Treat your Google Business Profile a bit like you would a social media channel when it comes to posting business updates. This might sound a bit weird, but trust us – it’ll have a huge impact.
Essentially, it shows Google that your business is consistently active – something it will reward by giving you better visibility in local search rankings. Even better – if you fill these posts with the relevant target keywords, you’re also going to be improving your general local SEO services ranking. That’s a win-win in our book.
Regular posting on your GBP listing will also help improve engagement with your customers which will expand your reach and even boost your brand awareness outside of SEO.
It’s fairly simple to post updates on your Google Business Profile and there’s a wide-ranging scope of topics you can speak on to hook your customers. Think upcoming launches, sales, discounts and offers, and significant events and updates – whatever your customers will find use in knowing is extremely beneficial to share.
Google has made embedding images into your posts simple in order to maximise your impact and you can even add CTA buttons to your post – think of the extra traffic and conversions you could drive with little to no effort!
Get involved with your community
If your business is one that makes a lot of effort in engaging your local community both online and offline, you’re in luck. Similarly to the way Google rewards posting activity, it also prioritises businesses with a local presence and authority when it comes to ranking.
If you’re not quite there yet, there are a number of different ways you can get involved with organisations around you. Engaging with local services including support groups, charities and Chambers of Commerce is a great way to establish yourself as a significant member of your local community. Sponsoring local events and partnering with similarly prominent local business will also work in your favour here.
Engagement is key in this instance. If you want Google to notice your community work, you want to be super active in posting about it. Links are important here – if you publish and promote linked content including events announcements and partner pages for your chosen organisations, Google will take heed.
Additionally, you should also prioritise physically engaging with local news stories and industry-relevant publications. Bonus points if you get mentioned or linked!
Embed your Google Map location on your website
Google hasn’t made it explicitly clear whether embedding a Google Map into the Contact Us page on your website will affect ranking factors, but it’s fairly safe to assume that it’s going to improve your standing regardless.
Not only will a Google Map make it much clearer to local users exactly where they can find you (especially based on their existing knowledge of the area) but it will also help improve your general UX position on your website – something that will also impact your overall SEO ranking.
Local backlink building
Backlinks are seen as a vote of confidence by Google, having like pointing to your website from other local sources will improve your authority and trust. This tells Google that, if a trusted website is pointing to yours, then your website is also trusted and can therefore rank higher.
You should never underestimate the power of real high-quality backlink building – it can do some pretty great things for your website and your ranking positions. When it comes to local SEO marketing, you’ll always want to be on the lookout for local backlinks.
Reaching out to local business directories relevant to your industry is an excellent way to see your business linked on a trusted website. Even providing basic information (such as your NAP – more on that later) will help improve your business’ standing.
Similarly, you should also look at doing the same with local news publishing outlets. These tend to be constantly on the lookout for businesses to add to their local directories and listings, so all you’ll need to do is reach out to them with the relevant information and bam! You’ve got yourself another link.
Use local business schema
This is where we get a little bit more tech-y.
Google tends to prefer standardisation when it comes to structuring web content – especially business details. This has led to the development of local business strucutred data.
Local schema basically enables businesses to add some basic code to their website, which provides search engines with information such as your logo, phone number and social media profiles.
Local business schema only needs the same business details provided in your Google Business Profile, as Google will generally cross-reference this anyway.
In a nutshell, the easier you make it for Google to verify your location, the higher you’ll tend to rank on Google Maps.
Keep your NAP constantly up-to-date
Wherever they are on the web, if there’s anything your potential customers will absolutely NEED to know about your business, it’s your name, address and phone number – or ‘NAP’.
To keep your customers heading in the right direction when they’re looking for you, you need to ensure that your NAP is consistent, visible and up-to-date on your website, Google Business Profile and anywhere else you have an internet presence.
Google place huge importance on having your NAP consistent and accurate across every single web source, especially in terms of local rankings. If you have a business presence on a third-party site, also known as a citation, you should remember that this is also extremely important to keep correct. Essentially, you really don’t want to sleep on this step.
Finding all the sources that contain your NAP can be done with just a simple Google search for your business – this allows you to compile a list of the places your business details can be found.
Once you’ve checked through to verify how accurate your NAP is across these sources, you should then reach out to any websites that haven’t got the most up-to-date information about you. The website owner or directory will then update your NAP as needed.
If you’re looking to keep your NAP consistent but still need to save time instead of trawling the web, it could be useful to scope out some of the free and paid automated local listings services available online. These basically allow you to identify and update your NAP and other essential business information from one central location.
Get your reviews in order
As a small business owner, you’ll know by now just how valuable customer reviews really are when it comes to building a level of confidence and trust with your audience. However, it’s also a super important factor in your Google Maps rankings.
This is where your business really has the chance to stand out from the competition – any old business can create their Google Business Profile with the basic information and relevant content. It takes just a little bit more work to get your reviews in order, but the payoff is well worth it.
There are so many places customers can review your business online and all of them are extremely valuable – whether it’s Facebook, Yelp or an industry-specific review site, it holds weight. However, if you can encourage your customers to leave a review on your Google Business Profile, you’ll see a much bigger impact when it comes to your search appearance.
Asking customers to leave reviews can be as simple as you’d like it to be. If you’ve successfully delivered on your business promise, it’s safe to presume that your customer has likely had a positive experience with you that’s framed your business in a good light.
Top tip – If you offer in-person services, such as car mechanics, and you find it difficult for customers to leave a review, try creating a business card that includes a QR code which directly links to either Google or Trustpilot, where customers can easily leave you a review.
If this is a more regular occurrence for you than you’d previously realised, automation can help. Designed to support busy local businesses manage their positive reviews on a regular basis, there are several different services available that can help here. These include automated review requests over email or text as soon as the transaction has been completed. You could also implement review management across several sources via a comprehensive dashboard.
It might also be good news to hear that Google has a preference for businesses that receive a high volume of reviews and are proactive in responding to these, as opposed to those who only receive fully positive feedback.
Obviously, as a business owner, you want to limit the number of negative reviews you receive, but sometimes they’re just inevitable! What’ll really help you stand out to Google is swift responses to any and all reviews as this shows a much clearer image of your company’s dedication to well-maintained customer service.
Boost your local SEO rankings with Blank Slate Digital
What we’re trying to say here is that, if local SEO (or even SEO in general) is something that your business values, you should absolutely begin by taking these steps in order to improve your Google Maps SEO standing.
The benefits of being displayed in the first position on Google Maps are priceless and could transform your conversion rate and ultimately, improve your revenue significantly. That sounds pretty good to us.
If you’re keen to start your journey in local SEO but still aren’t entirely sure how to carry it out – don’t stress! Blank Slate Digital can help you out. With a proven track record of improving local SEO listings for our partners, you’re guaranteed to see major improvements when you work with us.
For a free consultation, get in touch today.