How to Rank Higher on Google Maps: 4 Easy Tips For Local Businesses
Google Maps is an application that is rapidly becoming the default GPS system for commercial and private users all over the world. Google has been able to leverage its incredibly large mobile search audience into a way for businesses to advertise to travelers of all types. Google Maps has also become a powerful geographic search program that is used millions of times a week. Many of the features on Google Maps are free, but as a local business owner, you will want to learn how to rank higher on Google Maps, as it is the first thing users see when making a local search on Google. Ranking in the top three on the local map pack, could be the all the difference when it comes to your business’s bottom line.
Tip 1: Optimize Your Google My Business Listing (GMB)
The Google My Business (GMB) listing service has been around for a long time, but it has become a much more powerful marketing tool with the addition of Google Maps. The GMB service allows local businesses to register with Google’s search services and get priority listing for local searches on their maps. The ability to match up an optimized GMB account on Google Maps is definitely a powerful tool to leverage to increase the sales and leads of your business.
Complete all Information
An incomplete GMB registration makes it very difficult for Google to prioritize your business in search results. Google’s algorithms are extremely complex, that is why you want to have Google be able to easily discern between your business and businesses with similar names and information. The more detail you put into your profile, the easier it is for Google to categorize your business and use it in a Google search result.
It is also important that you constantly update your GMB registration to make sure that all of your information is up-to-date. Google is able to separate businesses based on the needs of Google users, and you need your information to be updated and complete as possible to ensure that your company shows up in as many pertinent searches as possible.
There are plenty of resources you can use to maximize the completeness of your GMB profile, one of them being MOZ Local as it is one of the most complete resources for GMB optimization. A resource like this will show you exactly what you need to do to create a comprehensive GMB profile and help you to learn the best methods for maintaining your profile properly.
Add Keyword Modifiers in Your GMB Name and Description
Google has changed its search algorithms several times since 2010, but that does not change one of the most effective methods of utilizing keywords when it comes to ranking higher on Google Maps. When you set up your business’ marketing plan, you need to research keywords that potential customers are using to find businesses such as your own. Tools such as Google Keyword Planner can help you not only find keywords that your business can utilize, but it also, displays the monthly search volume and competition of those particular keywords. For example, if you are a plumber in Atlanta, you may want to maximize the keyword phrase “plumber Atlanta” in your name, as it is the search term that garners the most searches when users in Atlanta are looking for plumbing services.
By implementing a keyword modifier into your name on your GMB listing, it is going to help separate you from the competition and help your GMB profile to stand apart, especially when it comes to local searches. As you can see below, when searching “SEO Company Los Angeles” which is the most searched term for SEO in Los Angeles, the top three results all have added keyword modifiers in their title.
But you should know that consistency, plays a pivotal role in ranking higher on Google Maps as we will discuss this later. If you decide to incorporate your keyword into your business name on GMB, make sure to have it in the exact format across other listings as well. By not doing so, you will hurt your Google Map rankings. You can format your keyword and business name with separators to make it look easier to read, just as the businesses who added their keyword modifiers on their listing for “SEO Company Los Angeles”.
When completing the business information on your GMB listing, ensure that you are including your keyword in the first 250 characters even though it allows for 750 characters. Reason being, only the first 250 characters are displayed on a Google Map result as seen below.
By including your keyword modifier in your business name and description on GMB, you are helping Google to separate your business from the competition. When you use the same keywords across all Google platforms, you are significantly increasing your company’s ability to show up higher on Google Maps search results for the keyword that generates the most traffic for your business.
Max Out Your Categories
Sometimes getting good search results is a matter of putting your business in front of as many prospective customers as possible. When it comes to Google Maps, you can get seen by more people if your business is very specific on what types of audiences you cater to. You can establish these relationships when you maximize your business categories on GMB.
The simple fact is that your business becomes more visible to Google Maps users when you fill out all of the categories that apply to any part of what you do. If you run a vegan restaurant, then you will want to put your business in the vegan restaurant category, but you will also want to use another category such as health food restaurant, as a large portion of your customers come from a wellness demographic.
When learning how to rank higher on Google Maps, you need to use every category that applies in any way to your business. Not only will you show up in the general industry results for what you do, but you will also start showing up in niche specific results that can often be more profitable. By maximize your business categories, you can reach several different types of audiences who are all interested in what your business has to offer.
Are you familiar with a new feature called Google Posts? If you are not, you should not be alarmed because chances are your competition does not know about it either. This can give you the inside information you need to use this powerful Google marketing tool to your advantage and show you how to rank higher on Google Maps.
Google Posts allows businesses to make posts on their GMB listing with CTAs (call to actions) such as “Learn More”, “Reserve”, “Sign-up”, “Buy”, and “Get Offer” on their associated searches. For example, you can set up a Google Post about your free consultations if you’re a plumber and that post will show up in search results. This is an extremely powerful business option that can increase your conversions and leads.
When you use Google Posts, you should use it for one message at a time. Don’t try to overload a Google Post with keywords. Experiment with different messages and keywords, use the picture posting function, and become proficient with Google Posts as you learn how to rank higher on Google Maps.
Add Videos to Your GMB
If you are currently not using video to help market your business, then this statistic may help you to understand the power of video. It has been shown that video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic. Video is more engaging than pictures and by implementing a video on your Google My Business listing you are not only setting yourself apart from your competitors but also increasing the likelihood of getting more traffic to your GMB listing. Increased traffic on your listing is an indicator to Google to rank you higher on their maps as they provide users with what they deem as the best option.
Tip 2: Optimize Your Listings to Add Credibility and Authority to Your GMB Profile
Optimizing your profile is part of how to rank higher on Google Maps, but it is only one part of the equation. Users rely on Google for information regarding local businesses and attractions, Google itself relies on registered GMB businesses to help deliver consistent and strong results. The best way for you to contribute to the accuracy and reliability of Google results is to constantly be concerned with the credibility of your GMB profile.
Volume of Citations
With Google, the quantity and quality of your citations online are both very important. A citation or “listing” is any reference or mention made online that regards your business’s NAP (name, address, and phone number). That is why it’s imperative to build and expand the number of listings your business is in.
In user searches, Google will give priority to a business who has more citations. The reason being, not only will that business be easier to find because of their expansive portfolio of citations, but that business will also appear to be more credible as Google can amass more data on that business because of the various listings it has garnered. The only caveat is to ensure that your information is consistent across all of these listings.
One service you can utilize to submit your listings and build citations without the hassle of manually submitting each one is Bright Local’s citation building service. They not only submit each listing for you but also ensure that they are standardized and consistent.
Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) consistency is one of the most important details to attend to when discussing the credibility of your search information. Your NAP information actually includes all of your company’s contact information including name, address, phone number, website, fax number, and general email address. Google uses this information, and if it is inconsistent across the web, not only will you confuse the search engines and make them work harder, but they will prioritize a business whose information is standard and seamless across the web.
NAP consistency means displaying your company information in the same order and format no matter where you put it. If your company’s name is Bob’s House Cleaning and Storage, then occasionally using Bob’s House Cleaning as your company name online is going to create problems with your NAP consistency. This sort of inconsistency makes it difficult for Google, as they utilize all of the listings you have online as a factor in their searches. The more consistent listings Google finds of your business, the more confident they are in showing you higher on their map searches as they believe you are a credible business that is serving in your local area.
Using the free tools on MOZ Local can help with making your listings consistent, as they can check for completeness of information, inconsistent information, and duplicates your listings may have across the web as seen below. You can also check out this SEO tools guide for more tools that can help you with your listings.
Authority of Your Listings
Google is a very intuitive platform that is constantly searching the Internet for more data that it can use to improve its search results. This ability to dig deep into a variety of data sources has helped Google to rank websites based on the authority of their listings.
By adding your business into an authoritative listing such as the Better Business Bureau you are increasing the creditability you have with Google. Google knows the standards and process it takes to get added to this authoritative listing among others. By adding your business to these listings, it means that you are not only getting a vote of confidence from those listings but that you are also invested in your business. Increasing your authority will inherently increase your Google Map rankings.
Earlier, we discussed maximizing your business categories to help increase your search result options. But there is also another reason as to why you should think niche-specific in terms of not only your GMB Listing but your listings all together. If you are a roofer, you should not only list your business in the top roofing directories like “Roofing Contractor” but you should also list your business in sub-niche listings such as “Angie’s Listing” and “Home Advisor”. Not only are these listings hyper relevant to your business but they increase your creditability within your niche to Google, which will result in higher rankings on the Google Map.
Locally Relevant Listings
There are many types of local citations that can all help to improve your results in local searches and maximize your results with Google Maps. An example of a locally relevant listing would be adding your business to the Local Chamber of Commerce. Not only is the Chamber of Commerce authoritative in Google’s eyes, but if your business is listed on there, it gives Google more confidence that your business is an integral part of that locality. With Google prioritizing proximity in its local searches, having a locally relevant listing will boost your rankings on the map for local searches.
Tip 3: Get More Reviews
The volume and quantity of citations is extremely important, and the same can be said for reviews. Google gives priority to business that are actively getting new and positive reviews, and that is one of the best ways to improve your results with Google Maps searches. When you follow the Google guidelines that are associated with asking for Google reviews, then you can add to your collection of reviews without violating Google’s policies. This is something you should take advantage of because most other review platforms do not allow participating businesses to actively seek out reviews from customers.
Just because review platforms such as Yelp and the Yellow Pages tend to frown on soliciting reviews, that does not mean that you should not focus on constantly getting new reviews on those platforms as well. Reviews from local consumers on those larger review platforms are very important in establishing your local search authority on Google. You should look into ethical ways that you can remind your customers to leave reviews as they are one of the main determining factors on how high you rank on Google Maps.
Asking for Reviews
Major review platforms such as Yelp have policies against businesses asking customers to leave reviews. You cannot put a link to Yelp on your website, and you cannot put up signs in your business asking customers to go leave a Yelp review. But that does not mean that you cannot still find subtle ways to get your clients to leave reviews.
- Remind your customers to check your business out on the various review sites. This is simply an informational reminder to help your clients have review alternatives.
- Make sure the review site’s badge is displayed prominently on your website. While you cannot directly ask customers to write a review of your business, you can subtly remind them that they should visit the rating website after visiting your company.
- Some rating websites, such as Yelp, send businesses letters of congratulations to businesses that reach a threshold of positive reviews. You are allowed to display those letters, and you should.
- You can share your best ratings on your social media platforms. Not only is this good advertising, but it also encourages other customers to post reviews on Yelp and other platforms as well.
- Your goal as a business owner is to create a positive environment that makes for happy clients and workers. The energy you expend to make everyone associated with your business happy will result in a steady flow of positive reviews.
What to do About Negative Reviews
If there is one thing that is inevitable, it is bad online reviews from customers. When people feel like they have had a bad experience, they often feel it is necessary to alert others by posting a bad online review. You have several options when it comes to handling bad reviews.
- Do nothing. Your customers are not going to be shocked at one bad review, and in many instances bad reviewers tend to say things that indicate that they were actually to blame. If the review seems harmless and isolated, then ignore it.
- Reach out to the reviewer and ask if you can discuss their displeasure in a private conversation through email or some other form. If the client insists on being public, then they have an axe to grind and your best bet is to walk away. Be sure to publicly apologize for the customer’s experience and then offer to handle the matter privately.
- Remain professional and caring. You should genuinely care about upset customers, and that should come across in your conversation with your angry client both in your response to their public review and when you talk in private.
- Part of reputation management is trying to have measurably more positive reviews and comments on the Internet than negative. The intention is to have the positive drown out the negative, and that should always be your focus.
Embed Your Google Maps Review Link
Constant marketing is the best way to increase your online presence, and that goes for Google Maps as well. When you create signatures for your emails, social media posts, marketing content for your website, and other ways to spread your company’s marketing message, you should use the Google Maps review link in all of those instances to increase the number of reviews your business gets.
The easiest way to find your Google Maps review link is to find your business on Google and then click on the review link. The URL you see at the top of the page where customers leave reviews is your Google Maps review link. Include that link in all of your marketing materials and correspondence and you will increase the amount of reviews you get.
Why is it so Important to get Good Reviews?
Why are positive reviews so important? There are plenty of facts that explain why you need positive reviews, and many of those facts are quite startling.
- It is estimated that 73 percent of American consumers tend to trust businesses with positive reviews more than businesses without positive feedback.
- Approximately 85 percent of consumers feel that a positive online review is a reliable as a word-of-mouth recommendation.
- Three out of 10 consumers feel that leaving reviews online for local businesses is important.
- It takes only seven positive reviews for the average consumer to trust a local business.
Tip 4: Implement Schema (Structured Data Markup)
In 2011, Google and other search engine companies introduced a language called Schema Markup. It is a language that search engines use to learn more about a website’s content and present that information in a more user-friendly manner on search results. Businesses who utilize schema mark-up on their website get rewarded by Google in what is called a “rich result” as seen below.
As a business trying to rank higher on Google Maps, you should employ “Local Business” schema markup onto your website. By implementing schema markup onto your website, you are making it easier for Google to recognize vital information such as your NAP which will directly correlate with your Google My Business listing as well. For example, if you were a restaurant, you would want to markup as many items as possible on your website to include your NAP (name, address, phone number), menu and reservation page. By marking up this pertinent information about your restaurant on your website, that information will be displayed in a user-friendly format called a “Knowledge Card” on the results page of a search as seen below.
Google recently added two features in their Schema Markup section for Local Businesses which are called, “Local Business Listings” and “Place Actions.” The Local Business Listings feature is similar to a GMB listing, and the Place Actions feature can allows users to take actions such as ordering, directly from the search page.
To easily implement schema onto your website, you may use two resources such as schema.org to find relevant schema for your business and Google’s Structured Data Tool to see if your schema is functioning properly.
When you add Schema Markup (also called Structured Data Markup) to your website, you give Google the chance to easily crawl and find your business information, learn significantly more about your business, and what type of information it should present that would most benefit the user intent. By implementing schema onto your website, you are putting yourself above 90% of businesses who are not utilizing it on their websites to maximize not only the experience of users, but your local search rankings on the Google Map as well.
Google has always been an excellent marketing resource for local businesses. By employing these tips to your local marketing plan, you will rank higher than your competitor on the Google Map which means an increase in your leads and sales which inherently means a bigger bottom line for your business!
If you are a business owner that does not have the time or expertise to implement these tips yourself, we at Better Bistro Media can help, as we are a premiere Georgia SEO Agency that focuses on boosting your visibility online.