Many customers are on Google looking for services and products similar to yours at this very moment. In fact, many users use Google Maps to find physical locations of businesses but also to find out more information about local businesses.
Google Maps can help you gain more traffic and generate quality leads and is part of local SEO strategy. Google shows local Map listings in local search results at the top of search pages and in rankings on Google Maps listings. Ranking higher in Google Maps means ranking higher in Google Search. Ranking at the top of Maps can help you get noticed by customers, stand out above competitors, and generate new business overall and should be part of any local SEO services.
This guide will help you learn how to rank higher on Google Maps and how to improve Google Business rankings. This how-to SEO Google Maps guide outlines the different improvements to take in so your business can dominate Google Maps.
How to Rank Higher on Google Maps
If you’re wondering how to move up on Google Maps, the answer is through Google Maps marketing. Google Maps marketing is the process of optimizing your profile in Google Maps in order to increase ranking and visibility. In fact, nearly 70% of all smartphone users rely on Google Maps as their main form of navigation.
Google takes into account many factors when deciding how you show up on Google Maps. Proximity is one of most important ranking factors on Google Maps in addition to factors related to your Google My Business profile and website. When customers are looking for services your business offers, your Google My Business (GMB) listing and overall domain authority impacts whether or not you show up in Google results.
Businesses that struggle to show up for relevant searches often lack the knowledge about what you can do to improve your local results. If you’re wondering how to improve your small business’ local SEO, the first step is to learn how to use Google My Business for SEO.
This complete list of steps to improving your Google Map Listing SEO is a great place to start on your mission to dominate Google Maps.
1. Complete Your Google My Business Listing
Your Google My Business strategy is the most important part of how to get to the top of Google local listings and Google Maps.
One of the first things to do for local SEO is to claim & verify your Google My Business listing. When you verify your business listing, you not only notify Google that your business serves customers at a physical address but that your information is correct.
Your Google My Business should include important information that you would want customers to know such as your name, address, phone number, hours of operation, products, services, business description, and more.
It is important to complete the business listing as fully as you can and optimize your listing for local search. Google tends to favor listings that have correct and complete information as well as relevant keywords in their profiles.
2. Add Photos & a Virtual Tour
Customers are very visual when it comes to assessing if your business is the right fit for them. Adding quality photos to your Google My Business listing helps customers have a better understanding of who you are and what it might look like to work with you.
If you have products that you want to showcase, adding photos or virtual tours are a great way to show them off to customers. You can promote specific products, services or aspects of your business with visuals on your Google My Business profile.
Not only do photos build trust with prospective customers, Google also looks at photo metadata and uses AI to analyze photos as part of local search rankings. Smart local SEO companies use photos to increase rankings by using Google’s Vision AI to better help Google understand visuals for businesses.
Virtual tours can also help increase your Google Maps rankings. Not only do they increase engagement, which impacts rankings, they can also improve customer conversion rates.
2. Get Local Backlinks (Not Just Citations)
Links are an important part of your ranking factors on Google Maps. To judge if your business is trustworthy, Google’s algorithm looks at links to your website from other reputable sources.
You may be familiar with citation sites like YellowPages, SuperPages, or Facebook. Although those citation links are valuable to your rankings, local links and niche links are especially important in boosting your overall search rankings. Building these links can be more effective for increasing rankings than worrying about the hundreds of directories out there.
If you’re a local business, one of the best ways to build a backlink portfolio is to use the resources and relationships in your own community to build links. It’s best to think about the niche areas in your community and how your businesses can be mutually beneficial to one another when it comes to link building. Acting as a resource for local media outlets, sharing your expertise, and sponsoring local events and organizations are great ways to build SEO while building your reputation.
Additionally, you want to build backlinks that show your local community involvement but also the involvement in your particular business community. For instance, if you’re an accountant, building links from authority sites in the accounting field show Google your accounting business is deemed trustworthy by your industry too.
3. Get Reviews & Respond to Them
Reviews are not only important to customers looking for quality services but also to Google as well. Google favors what customers favor, from the review rating to what the review says in the text. If you cultivate high reviews on your Google My Business listing that also include comments about your products and services can help your business rank higher. You can ask customers to review your business on Google by sharing your review form link in your GMB dashboard with them.
Reviews are one of the more important factors when it comes to how you rank in Google Maps. However, having reviews on your business listing does more than just help improve your SEO. Customers use reviews as a means to gather information about their customer experience. People often spend time looking at reviews before deciding if they want to work with you.
Additionally, responding to both positive reviews and negative reviews can boost your rankings and credibility. You should always reply to your reviews to show potential customers that you’re responsive and how you handle negative reviews to better serve customers.
4. Make Your Website Mobile-friendly & Secure
As previously mentioned, nearly 70% of users use their mobile devices to find businesses to work with. Making your website user friendly across all platforms and devices one way to improve Google Maps ranking. Search engines now look at the mobile version of your website when saving information about your business for inclusion in search results.
If your website doesn’t have proper mobile friendly coding, it could hurt your Google local business listing’s SEO. If customer’s can’t access your website from their phones or properly use it, they will quickly leave and will be less likely to contact you. Engagement from search engine result pages can impact your rankings, including if people leave your website quickly after clicking on your website link in search results.
Customers also judge the trustworthiness of your business based on their experience on your website. They want to know that their information is safe on your website with an SSL certificate. You’ll also want to avoid spammy-looking content on your website as it can negatively impact perceptions of your business and hurt your SEO.
5. Add Your Contact Information To Your Site
Part of how you can improve your business Google search results is by adding your contact information to your site in a search engine friendly way. Google takes name, phone number, and address (NAP) into consideration when it determines what your ranking placement will be. Search engines view NAP SEO as a way to verify credibility and confirm details about your business.
Google also looks for consistency between your Google My Business listing and your website data. You want to make sure that your contact information is as identical as possible between your GMB and site to create consistency and build trust with Google.
6. Embed Your Map & Get Directions on Your Site
One of our top Google Maps tips that business owners tend to miss is embedding a Map to their business on their website. Because part of how Google determines how to show search results is based on engagement, Google looks at the number of people who request directions to your business as one of the ranking factors for local SEO. While it’s not a big boost, embedding a map can help a bit.
Embedding a map to your website is easy and Google provides an easy way to do that in your Google My Business dashboard. One important thing to keep in mind, however, is that embedding your map can also show related businesses of your competitors in your map on your website so you’ll want to adjust some settings to make your map zoomed in on just your business.
7. Add Schema Markup
You should add local business schema markup to your website, which is a kind of code that doesn’t display to visitors but that is used by search engines to better understand information. Schema markup can help your business be seen as more relevant to searchers by Google.
Schema makeup was created by search engines like Google as a specific group of tags that could be used by search engines to provide support and better understand information shown to site visitors. Schema markup can be particularly important to local SEO because it can create a competitive advantage in search engine results pages (SERP).
8. Optimize Your Site For Local Keywords
One of the biggest local SEO problems most small businesses have is that their website isn’t getting enough traffic because search engines don’t understand the local relevancy of their site.
There is a difference between regular SEO, otherwise known as national SEO, and local SEO. Keywords are specific to what searchers are looking for in Google and often vary by region.
For example, many searchers use the name of the city in their search, like “best coffee NYC”, or even the neighborhood, like “best coffee Tribeca”, to find results that are more relevant to their search.
In order to help your business appear at the top of Google, filling your website content with local keywords can help make you appear more favorable to Google. Not only do you want to add these localized keywords to your main pages, creating additional content about your business, your community, and problems your business helps solve can help Google better understand the relevancy of your business to searches.
9. Create NAP Consistency
Google verifies your business information by looking for consistency between your listings across top directories in addition to your GMB and website information. While it’s a small factor in local SEO, it’s a quick fix that can help rankings.
In addition to consistency for Google, customers may find your NAP citations as one of the first things that shows up on Google. Sometimes nationalized directory sites show up for specific types of searches and can help your business get more customers. If your business information is incorrect on these platforms, you could easily miss out on new customers.
Although they don’t have a major impact on your overall SEO rankings, it is still important to make sure your name, phone number, and address are all the same across the internet. You can do a local SEO audit to find incorrect listings and improve your NAP consistency so Google better understands your business contact information.
10. Report GMB Spam
Like other sites, Google My Business can also be used for spammy content that violates local SEO best practices. You may be faced with local competitors that are trying to cheat their way to the top of Google through spam, which in return can hurt your overall rankings and keep you from being more visible. You can fight this off by reporting GMB spam.
GMB spam may often appear in the form of real looking map results. However, if you pay close attention, you may notice that some of the comments and reviews seem to be fake, they don’t have a website, or the address isn’t real. If that’s the case, you should report the spam to Google.
Google encourages you to report fake businesses or businesses that don’t adhere to best practices, like using a fake name that isn’t the same as their real-world name. Getting rid of fake businesses or spammy content not only stops other businesses from cheating their way to the top of search results, but it could also help boost your own rankings.
Bonus: Move Your Business
Proximity matters with local SEO and if you’re just not turning up in search results despite that you’ve optimized all of these factors, it might just be your business location. While moving your business just for SEO isn’t likely a good idea, considering where your potential customers actually are is worth thinking about.
If your Google Maps listing just isn’t turning up enough but doesn’t seem to be penalized, your business location might be too far away from where your ideal customers are searching from.
Being close to your customers is essential for Google Maps marketing success—but also the success of your business.
Need Help With Your Google Maps Ranking?
Although there are a number of ways to get top listings on Google Places, having a local SEO marketing agency by your side can make all the difference. Dominating Google Maps can be more complex if you’re in a more competitive market and bringing in experts who know all the minute details of Google Maps ranking can really help.
Our agency specializes in local SEO and Google Map marketing and has helped businesses like yours dominate Google Maps to grow.
Call today for a free initial consultation to learn more about how to get to the top of Google Places.