How to rank your business higher on Google Maps?
Recent surveys show that the influence of Google Maps is rapidly expanding, with more than 75% of consumers relying on it to discover “near me” businesses. It is now the preferred navigation app, making it fundamental for any business to have a Google Maps listing. Your GMB account is a crucial digital marketing tool for your company. It helps new customers discover your business while helping you stay competitive and generate more leads – all for free. Last month, we touched on the importance of Google Maps advertising and how it can be beneficial for any modern business. In this article, we continue to explore the subject further, providing you with guidelines on how to rank your business higher on Google Maps.
Service-Area Business (SAB) vs. Physical Location Business
Many businesses used to be at a disadvantage in terms of their GMB account due to the fact that searches were directly linked to proximity. To put it simply, if your business was located outside the Boston Metro Area, for example, but a large number of your customers came from that area – you wouldn’t be able to rank well on local SEO searches for your business simply because the physical location of your business is far away.
However, with the introduction of Service Area Businesses, companies got the chance to claim listings on GMB without having to show their physical address. Therefore, you no longer need to be limited to a specific area code and the proximity of the customers searching for your type of business. Now, you can the exact cities your business serves, noting as many as 20 different service areas, in or outside your state.
What does Google define as a Service Area Business (SAB)?
The service area feature is designed for businesses that visit or deliver to local customers. For example, it can be used by:
- A business that visits or delivers to customers, but doesn’t serve customers at its business address (e.g. an electrician or moving service).
- A business that serves customers at its business address, but also visits or delivers to customers (e.g. a restaurant that also delivers food).
Even though SABs are a possibility now, you need to tread carefully when going after higher rankings on Google maps for multiple locations. After all, you can’t expect your brand to have an unlimited influence on a service area where you don’t have an actual physical location for your business. Instead, the best chance to rank your business higher on Google Maps in multiple locations is to have an actual physical address for each of the locations you are aiming for.
10 steps to rank your business higher on Google Maps
Much like there are steps a business needs to take when it comes to on-page and off-page optimization for local SEO, there is way to optimize your Google Maps listing. There are on-listing and off-listing optimization steps for business listing SEO. The following ten steps exemplify the most fundamental of those steps, necessary for improving the impact your business has on Google Maps:
1. Start by adding your business to Google Maps
There’s not really much point in going after better rankings on Google Maps if your business doesn’t have a listing, to begin with. Therefore, you first need to start by creating a proper Google Maps listing for your business. This process is not as complicated as it might sound, but it still requires a certain amount of concentration. If you are not certain as to whether or not your SEO agency or in-house SEO team created a listing for your company, start by visiting Google Maps and running a search for your business name.
- If you are able to find it in the drop-down menu with a location next to it, you are all set.
- In case your business name doesn’t appear, just follow the “add a missing place” option in the drop-down menu. That option will request you to provide your name, category, and location.
2. Claim your Google Maps business listing
Creating a listing for your business on Google Maps means providing its name, category, and location. However, this is something that anybody in the world can do, regardless of whether or not they own that company or even work for it. On the other hand, claiming a Google Maps listing is much more unique and offers a stronger case for your business online.
When you claim your listing, you can offer more than the basic details about your business (name, category, location) and optimize your listing with additional information. The more information your business listing contains, the better its chances of ranking higher on Google Maps are.
- In order to claim your listing on Google Maps, you first need to have a Google My Business (GMB) account for your business. If you do, claiming your listing is a matter of selecting the “Claim/Own this business” option.
3. Update your Google Maps business listing
Once you have a GMB account and Google Maps listing for your business, you have the base for ranking high on Google Maps. Now, it’s simply a matter of enriching your business listing with additional information through your GMB account. The dashboard there will provide you with an option to update information such as name, category, address, service area, working hours, special hours, phone number(s), website, products/services, attributes, and a description. So, let go into the details of how to optimize that basic info:
Practice consistency in your business name and location
Consistency conveys trust in the eyes of Google. Therefore, you need to make sure that the name and location you provide for your business are precise and unhindered over time. Avoid using variations or acronyms for the name of your business. Instead, focus on making sure that the name is official and identical to mentions of it on other online sources – your website, Yelp, BBB, Facebook, etc. This also applies to your address information.
Local phone numbers make it easier to rank your business higher on Google Maps
Google often associated toll-free numbers with spam. That is why using a local phone number with the area code for your business location is much more certifiable for customers in your vicinity. It offers a stronger claim to your service area and can earn you extra points with Google because of it.
Include both a tracked and your main number
By using a tracked number as the primary phone number for your business, you will be able to track the efficiency of your Google Maps business listing with ease. And by including your main phone number as a secondary one, Google will be able to match it with the one on your website and other listings.
Maintain the details of your working hours
Google Maps users rely on the accuracy of the information found there, such as whether or not a business is open or closed. With unexpected circumstances such as COVID-19 or other events (emergencies, holidays, renovations, relocation), you need to let Google know how this affects your working hours. This is just one of the many ways to ensure the success of your business in spite of the pandemic.
By offering constant updates, you send a clear sign of activity to Google, conveying trust and responsibility for which you can rank your business higher on Google Maps. Additionally, you will prevent customers from wasting time on coming to your closed store on a false basis of your working hours. And that will help you avoid the possibility of negative customer reviews that could hurt your ranking on Google Maps.
Write an informative and engaging business description
Content plays a key role everywhere. The description of your business listing on Google Maps should offer a short summary of what your business offers to visitors, rich with unique attributes and relevant keywords customers can respond to. It should align with your brand, offering a strong foundation to establish a trusting bond with potential customers. Much like the content on your website, the keywords you use, and the quality of your content in the eyes of visitors will be a positive indicator for Google to offer your business a better ranking. And this can go beyond the simple mention of your brand name – to your services and products as well.
Properly categorize your business
If you truly want to rank your business higher on Google Maps, you need to ensure that its category touches upon the very core of what it offers. Make sure to choose a primary category as close to the activities of your business as possible. You can then add secondary categories for any products/services that your business offers but are not clearly part of your primary category. The GMB dashboard offers you a choice of numerous categories, with the added option to input a customized category.
4. Visually enrich your Google Maps business listing with images
Research shows that consumers are less trusting toward Google Maps business listings without any photos attached to them. By uploading images of your business on your GMB account, you boost your ranking on Google Maps in three ways:
- Google receives a clear signal that your business is constantly active with each new image you upload.
- With constant photo-recognition tech advancing, Google is starting to show images in local search results.
- Modern consumers love online images, and Google tends to reward businesses for answering the needs of modern consumers.
So, if you want to rank your business higher on Google Maps, make sure to optimize your business listing with high-quality and engaging photos. You can upload images and videos via the GMB dashboard and should strive to upload at least one new photo a day.
5. Focus on getting as many Google reviews as possible
When you create a business listing on Google Maps, you automatically open your business for online reviews. And since Google puts great value in the rating businesses get from customers, you can rank higher on Google Maps by earning as many positive Google reviews as possible.
Simply having the option for customers to leave reviews is not enough. You need to put in the effort of asking customers for reviews and maintain responsiveness to those reviews. By offering regular responses to online reviews, you encourage more consumers to leave reviews while reducing the harm that might come from negative reviews.
How can you get Google reviews?
- Demonstrate your commitment to consumers by interacting with them through reviews.
- Invite customers to leave reviews through your email campaigns.
- Use social media posts to motivate customers to leave reviews.
- Engage consumers through your blog to offer their opinion of your business
- Offer coupons and discounts to customers that choose to leave reviews, etc.
6. Consolidate your Google Maps listings
One of the worst mistakes a business can make is to overstep. And Google knows that. That is why any attempts to register multiple phone numbers and locations under one business are penalized by Google. So, make sure to avoid creating any duplicate listings or over-optimizing your business listing if you wish to get a chance to rank higher on Google maps.
7. Post regularly to your Google Maps business listing
Think of your Google Maps listing like a news section on a website. You can publish posts there much like on Facebook or other social media platforms. And the more posts you create, the more value Google is willing to give your business listing on the account of regular activity and proactive account management.
8. Make sure your website is responsive
In addition to using your GMB dashboard and boosting your Google Maps business listing, optimizing your website can also help your business rank higher on Google Maps. With a majority of online searches being conducted via mobile devices, having a responsive website plays a crucial role in engaging with modern consumers. By making sure that your website responds well to mobile devices, you avoid losing face with Google Maps that will lead potential customers to your website in the first place.
9. Enrich the content on your website with local keywords
Creating inner pages and landing blogs that use local keywords can help boost your organic rankings for local search results, but it can also help rank your business higher on Google Maps. You can start by optimizing your homepage and inner pages for your primary location, building your content strategy around your service area. After that, there are two paths to follow:
- Focusing on specific locations within a larger service area (state-wide or nationwide) by creating separate sub-pages for each of those locations.
- Expanding your content strategy to target new service areas as your business grows.
10. Embed a Google map on your website
If you want to promote your Google Maps listing through your website, all you need to do is to find your business, click “Share” and choose the “Embed a map” option. You can then copy/paste the link on any of the pages on your website. It might take some formating to customize the map to fit in with the layout of your website, but you can always turn to professional web developers to help you there.
By embedding a Google map for your business on your website, you send a sign to Google that your business is in fact located on that address. By syncing your Google Maps business listing with the address on your website, you are validating your business, making it easier for Google to rank you higher on Google Maps.
The importance of tracking results and GMB analytics
In order to identify any potential issues with your Google Maps listing, you need to remain vigilant in monitoring its efficiency. Tracking results is an important part of measuring the success of any digital marketing strategy, and Google Maps rankings are no different. Luckily, you can use your GMB account to pull analytics data and use it to analyze the performance of your Google Maps business listing.
By using the “Insights” option on the dashboard, you should be able to see things like:
- Which specific search queries triggered your listing.
- How often your listing appeared in Google search.
- How often your listing appeared in Google Maps.
- What kind of customer actions were taken (e.g. visiting your website, requesting directions, phone calls).
- Where customers are requesting business information from.
- Which days of the week get the most calls.
- How many photos have been viewed, and how that number compares to your competition.