Getting your local business to the top of Google Maps can be an absolute game-changer. Google itself has the statistics to prove it. In this post we’re going to show you why it’s so important to get your business ranking on Google and how to do it!
The Importance of Getting Your Business onto Google Maps
Just a few years ago, the amount of searches including the terms “near me” were growing exponentially. But we have now reached a point where search users just assume that results will be localized and relevant to them.
Google now reports that local-intent searches without the “near me” qualifier are growing at a rapid pace, as much as 150% faster than local searches that have the “near me” qualifier (which are growing rapidly themselves!).
More importantly, the people performing these searches are buyers. According to Google, there has been a 500% growth over the last 2 years that contain variants such as “where to buy” and “to buy,” and 76% of local mobile searches for something nearby result in a same-day in-store visit.
These are exactly the type of searchers you want finding your business.
When consumers perform their local search, they’ll get all sorts of valuable data about the businesses around them. Below is an example of what the results look like for a search of coffee shops.
As you can see in the the listings have reviews, categories, price points, brief descriptions and photos, giving the searcher crucial decision-making information. Each coffee shop is within walking distance to the physical location of the searcher.
Other information that Google Maps will show about local businesses:
- Phone number
- Hours of operation
- Street view
- Inside tour
Google does give you the option to see more than three listings, but you must click the “more” button at the bottom in order to view them. This greatly reduces the traction you can gain from Google Maps. Plus, from the point of view of the consumer, being in the 3-pack is like having a direct referral from Google itself.
*It’s important to note that the information shown to searchers is dependent on their device, location and search query. While you can’t control the query as a business owner, you can control the information Google has about your business. Depending on the device, or the app being used, oftentimes the top result will be the only one being highlighted (if you use the Google Maps App, for example). This make sit even more important to ensure you gain the top result in your area.
If your local business isn’t showing up in the top three on Google Maps, we’re going to show you how to get there in 5 steps…
Maps Ranking Step 1: Create a Content Strategy
Whether or not you realize it, you are probably already using content marketing – you just call it something else.
Do you have…
- A website where you regularly blog?
- Social media pages where customers follow you?
- Tutorial videos on YouTube where you show customers how to use a product?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions (or have other material you created to promote your business to customers), you’re using content marketing.
Google’s search algorithm looks at your entire web presence (such as backlinks, mentions, shares, etc.) when deciding how your business will rank on maps. However, the algorithm analyzes your content in order to identify exactly what to rank you for.
Identify what keywords and searches you want to show up for in the first place and make sure to have content across all your web properties that speak to those topics. Create content about what your business does, who it does it for, how it does it, and even where it does it (signaling your local presence).
Make it easy for Google’s algorithm to rank you for the right searches by providing it the content to base its rankings on.
Maps Ranking Step 2: Use Google My Business
Google My Business is Google’s own tool that allows you to manage all of your business’s information in one central location.
By using Google My Business, you ensure that potential customers receive your correct business information and increase the likelihood that your business will be included in the top three on Google Maps.
But the real value is that it gives you a platform to communicate information about your business directly to Google itself.
Ensure that all vital information about your business is always kept accurate and up to date here (name, address, hours of operation, etc.).
Maps Ranking Step 3: Optimize Business Listings
Google’s search bots scan the internet to determine rankings. In addition to finding information that you publish about your own business (your content marketing strategy), Google’s Map algorithm also takes into account the information that other websites provide.
When it comes to ranking on Google Maps, the most important category of authoritative sites could have information about your business are online directories (such as Local.com, Yelp, and Bing).
You see, Google is the largest search engine because people trust its results. And they want to keep it that way.
If for any reason they show local business information in their Maps results that isn’t accurate, that will eat into that trust. The last thing anyone wants to do is show up to a business marked as open on the map only to find out the doors are locked.
That is why you need to claim and optimize your online business listings across all directories.
If all information is consistent, then its likely it is also accurate. Google can rank your business with confidence. If the information is inconsistent across directories, then there can be questions about which information (if any) is actually the right information.
Online directories pull their data from many different sources, so it’s not uncommon that some wrong information can sneak in and create inconsistencies in your listings. So this actually does require some active monitoring. Of course, given the amount of directories, this is easier said than done.
Luckily, there are tools like Vivial’s Marketing Platform that help you automate this entire process.
Once you’ve identified any issues, you can either visit the offending directory and update your business’s information manually, or enroll in a service like Vivial’s directory optimization that does it for you automatically.
Maps Ranking Step 4: Reviews
Correlation studies have named “reviews” as a major ranking for for Google Maps.
And if you think about the fact that Google wants to provide the best result to its users, this makes all the sense in the world.
When people search for businesses online, they’re looking for the best (most reliable, most affordable, etc.). They certainly aren’t looking for a bad experience. Having a high number of positive reviews helps signal that your business is the one that should be ranking at the top.
Google now displays reviews alongside business listings, presenting searchers with all the information they need to make a decision on the spot. With 89% of people trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, having a solid set of positive reviews is extremely important if you want to convert potential customers into paying ones.
Need a bit of help bolstering your online reputation? Let Vivial help you with your review management.
Once you’ve got a solid library of content, fixed your directories and have a good amount of positive reviews, you’ll be on your way to breaking into the top three positions on Google Maps. However, there is an additional step that can help speed up the process and ensure you stay at the top: building backlinks.
Backlinks are simply links from other websites back to yours. But not all links are created equal. While spamming may have worked in the early days of search engines, today you only want relevant, authoritative websites linking back to yours (such as the Better Business Bureau or your local Chamber of Commerce).
Backlinks have been a staple of Google’s algorithm from the very beginning. In fact, it can be argued that it was the main part of their algorithm for a very long time (and still plays a significant role). The reason is very simple: each link is essentially viewed as an endorsement from a third party (the linking website).
And just like endorsements, you want to be careful who you’re getting one from (is the endorsement coming from a relevant, trustworthy, authoritative source?).
Getting your business on Google Maps organically is extremely achievable by following these 5 steps, even for small businesses. It just takes a bit of time. However, if you’d like to shortcut the process a bit and spend some money on ads…
BONUS: Maps Ranking Through Ads
One fairly underutilized feature in local search results (and one that is only a few years old) is the local search ad. In other words, Google Maps now has ad placements!
With a decent advertising strategy, you can show up in the maps for targeted local keywords and have ensure people see your business in the process of searching. It looks a little something like this:
Of course, if you’re still struggling to get your business on Google Maps (or just don’t have the time to do it yourself), Vivial has marketing experts that can help you. Contact us today and we’ll help you get your business on Google Maps.