These days, most customers interested in offline goods or services use Google Maps to find the shop’s location. Thus, it is important for your offline business to have a strong Google Maps listing.
Your Google Maps listing is a crucial marketing tool for your business. It can help you get discovered by new customers, stand out above competitors, and generate more business – all for free. But these benefits are really only attainable if your listing has strong visibility, and just because your business is listed in an area does not mean Google will automatically rank it for searches in that area.
Why is Ranking High on Google Maps Important?
It significantly supports local SEO, gives you a chance to reach potential customers and clients in your area who are ready to make a purchase. Apart from that, ranking high on Google Maps equals being displayed in top results, on the first page of the SERPs.
This way, you can easily improve your brand recognition. It’s also worth mentioning that Google Maps listings include a number of contact details such as a phone number, an email address, a website URL, and a physical address of your company. This gives potential buyers the possibility to engage and interact with your company in a way that suits them best.
Optimising your Google Maps listing gives you a great competitive edge over your market rivals, and may be an effective tool for boosting your sales, and brand recognition.
So, how can you rank higher on Google Maps?
1. Mark your business on Google Maps
It is impossible to rank higher on Google Maps if you haven’t listed your business on it. Your business can still be on Google Maps even if you haven’t listed it yourself. That’s because customers have the feature to mark businesses as well.
To check whether your business is on Google Maps or not, open the Google Maps app on your smartphone and search your business name. If it doesn’t appear, then, you have to add your business. A simple Google search on your business name will also do!
2. Claim the business listing
If you want to reach higher positions in Google Maps, you need to show Google that you’re the owner of the company. At the stage of creating the listing, you can only fill in information such as name, category, and location.
However, completing the verification process gives you much more possibilities when it comes to the information, and details about your company. As you may guess, the more informative and helpful your listing is, the higher it’s shown in the search results, and the more potential customers it attracts.
But what should you do to claim your Google Maps listing? All you need is a free Google account. Then, find your listing, and look for phrases like “own this business?”, or “claim this business”, and click them. Follow the instructions, and wait for the confirmation.
3. Provide relevant information
Now, once you’ve claimed the ownership of your company, you can proceed to the next step, which is providing contact details. As mentioned earlier, the more information your listing provides, the higher it will rank in results. Filling in information related to your address, telephone number, and website is a must. This will help potential customers engage with your business.
Google Maps ranks businesses it can trust, and one measure of your trustworthiness is the consistency of information about your business across the web. Being consistent with names and addresses works like magic.
Another trick in the book is if you use call tracking, use a tracked number for your primary business phone number and your main number as your secondary number. This will get most of your calls coming in through the tracked line so you can see the efficacy of your listing; but with the main number still in your listing, Google can then match your number with the one on your website and other listings.
4. Add images to your listings
Google loves it when you upload photos to your listing. First, because it signals that you are an active listing worthy of ranking higher in results. Second, because Google’s photo-recognition technology is advancing and Google is starting to show images in local search results. And third, because the SEO rule of thumb is that Google loves what consumers love, and consumers love photos. Plus, if you don’t add photos to your listing, it will show a generic map image.
So, to improve your Google Maps ranking, upload high-quality and compelling photos to your business listing that captures what it’s like to be at your business. You do this by going to the “Photos” tab in your Google My Business dashboard and click on the blue circle with a white plus sign. From there, you’ll be able to drag and drop several photos and/or videos at once. Ideally, you should strive to add at least one new photo a week.
5. Update your hours!
Google Maps business listings tell users if that business is open, closed, or opening or closing soon. Keeping these hours updated signals to Google that you are active and, therefore, trustworthy, and this will help with your rank. It will also prevent customers from making the trip out to your store only to find that it’s closed or closing – which can sometimes spark a negative review, which ultimately hurts your ranking on Google Maps.
6. Requesting online reviews
Reviews act as word of mouth online. They continue playing an important role in ranking profiles on Google Maps. However, the actual benefit of getting more reviews is not solely for SEO purposes. Reviews give a more accurate customer experience, offer social proof, as well as precise management of customer expectations. They can also help interested buyers make up their minds before visiting the shop.
Over 80% of customers online read reviews. So, it is important for a local business owner to understand the impact of reviews on their brand. Since Google understands the importance of reviews in helping a customer trust or visit a particular brand, they have included them in their local algorithm.
It’s not just about having reviews. Google also incorporates other factors such as:
- The text accompanying the stars in a review
- Choice of words when composing the review
- Business’ overall star rating
- How frequent the business receives reviews
Business representatives, both employers and employees, must exercise the conduct of requesting reviews from their clients. It is important for a business to receive reviews regularly. Thus, setting up systems and processes that promote the generation of reviews on a regular basis is vital.
At the same time, don’t make the mistake of asking for reviews too early. Wait for your clients to fully experience the benefit of your service or product before requesting a review.
7. Utilising keywords
Adding relevant keywords to your Google Maps listing is really, really important to reach the right audience. Start by thinking what might your customers Google to find you if they didn’t know about your business name. For instance, a cafe in Conwy should tap below keywords to optimise its Google Maps listing:
- Cafe in Conwy
- Best Cafe in Conwy
- Highest ranking cafes near Conwy
…you get the jist.
Use the keywords in your business title and description as well to rank higher than others on Google Maps. And always add relevant alt text while adding images to your posts.