Table Of Contents
- 1 Fill out and verify your Google My Business listing
- 2 Categorise your business correctly
- 3 Match and maintain your NAP
- 4 Get reviews on Google and respond to them
- 5 Add photos
- 6 Optimise your description
- 7 Embed Google Maps on your website
- 8 Build citations
- 9 How Google determines your ranking
As a local business, one of the most important things you can do to get found online is to improve your Google Maps ranking. A sound SEO strategy should incorporate Google local Map rankings. When someone near you uses Google to search for places to go, a list of search results will appear. Searchers are unlikely to look past the first page of results.
The higher you can rank in Google Maps, the more locals will find your business online and the more inquiries and foot traffic you’ll receive from Google. Here’s how to improve your Google Maps ranking and appear higher in local search results.
Fill out and verify your Google My Business listing
You’ll need to add or claim your Google My Business listing and fill out all of the information needed. When your business listing it partially completed, you lost out on appearing in relevant search results because Google doesn’t have all the information it needs from you. Have as much information as possible in your Google My Business listing and be sure that it is accurate. Google will find it easier to match your business with searches if your business listing has complete data entered.
Once you’ve added your Google My Business listing, you’ll need to verify it in order for the changes to appear live. Double check your listing to make sure that all the information provided is correct before publishing it. If you end up needing to make a change and delete previous information, it may take up to 60 days for the changes to appear in Google. This is a list of what you may want to include in your Google My Business listing and why.
- Include your business hours. Don’t forget about holiday hours or hours for any special events. Your customers will want to be able to verify that your business is open to visiting your location.
- Verify your business’s location. For your business to appear in local search results or on Google Maps, you’ll need to verify your address with Google. There are a few ways to verify, but you’ll need to fill out your entire Google My Business listing first. You can verify by mailing in a postcard, by phone, by email, or instantly if you’ve already verified your business in Google Search Console.
- Your website and contact information. Include your address and telephone number and be sure to link to your website so that potential customers can learn more about your business or brand.
- Don’t include any duplicate information. Include only one phone number in your Google My Business listing. Google prefers clear, concise contact information.
Categorise your business correctly
During the creation of your Google Maps listing, you’ll be able to add a primary industry category. Each of these categories acts as a keyword that will allow searchers to find you through Google Maps. You should add the main keyword, like restaurant or lawyer, as well as five additional keywords. You should make use of every available keyword in order to appear in more search results.
Try to make your five remaining categories highly relevant to your main category – you can use local SEO keywords by adding your city name to the main category or by further describing your business. For example, if you own a Cafe in Sydney you may want to include “Sydney Cafe” as one of your five additional keywords. Learn more about how to choose categories for your business. Our SEO Services covers optimising your listing for Google local.
Match and maintain your NAP
Your NAP (Name, address, phone number) likely appears in several places on the internet. It’s critical to make sure that this information is consistent in each place it appears. Google will be less likely to recommend your business to searchers if your NAP is inconsistent.
Match NAP information on your own website with the information in your Google My Business listing, on your business’s social media profiles, and in online directories like Yelp.
Maintain your NAP by logging into your Google My Business listing and checking your online citations for accuracy regularly. It’s important to note that anyone online can suggest an edit to many business listings online. This includes your Google My Business listing. By maintaining your listings, you’re making sure that no inaccurate NAP information gets published.
Additionally, use a local telephone number rather than a toll-free 1-800 number. This will help Google discern that your business is truly a local establishment. Use the local number in your Google My Business listing, on your website, and in citations in local search directories.
Get reviews on Google and respond to them
Getting legitimate Google reviews shows Google that your business is real and helps them to be able to recommend your business to people who search for your products or services. Google ranks businesses with a large number of good reviews higher than businesses with bad reviews or very few reviews.
Get as many Google reviews as possible without doing anything against Google’s terms of service. According to Google, unlike Yelp, it’s ok to encourage your customers to leave you an honest review.
To drum up some initial reviews and boost your Google Maps ranking, try asking some of your repeat customers for a Google Review. If you have a social media following for your business, create a post telling your customers that they can now leave you a review and that you’d greatly appreciate if they did so.
You can also create images to post on your social media profiles and website that encourage visitors to leave your business a Google review. Some businesses gather reviews by including text on their business’s receipts telling customers where they can leave a review of their experience. You can create a link for customers to follow and write a review for your business.
The ratings you receive in your Google reviews are important but don’t worry if you aren’t hitting a perfect five-star rating. In fact, businesses with a large number of reviews that are exclusively five stars can have their Google rankings penalised. A large number of five-star reviews without other reviews to balance out the rating will cause Google to assume your reviews are paid for or created by people close to your business. The ideal rating for your business is somewhere between 4.5 and 4.7 stars.
This kind of rating means that your business consistently functions at a high level and that the reviews are likely legitimate. Almost every business will receive some bad reviews, no matter how much they focus on customer service and product quality.
When you start getting reviews on Google, respond to them in a timely manner. Everyone who comes across your Google Maps listing and your Google reviews can view the responses you give to your reviewers. Don’t show your current and potential customers that you don’t care enough to respond to their complaints and compliments.
It’s especially important to respond to the negative reviews you receive. Remember that these responses are public, so you’ll want to provide excellent customer service and attempt to resolve the issue is at all possible. Apologise to the customer and thank them for taking the time to leave you a detailed review. Then, attempt to remedy the problem. If possible, invite them back or offer them an exclusive discount or another special offer. Your responses to negative reviews can actually be a way for you to win customers over depending on how you handle the situation.
Add photos to your Google My Business listing to stand out in Google Maps and search results. Be sure to choose a photo that accurately represents your business or product. If you’re a restaurant, you may consider uploading a photo of one of your most popular dishes instead of a picture of your storefront. You can use multiple pictures in your Google My Business listing. Choose photos that will help the searcher decide that your business is the one they want to visit by only selecting your most relevant and visually appealing photos.
Optimise your description
Use relevant keywords in your Google Maps description and in Google My Business. To find ideal keywords, think locally and try to imagine what someone would type in if they were searching for what your business has to offer. If you’re a coffee shop in Detroit, you might consider “Best coffee in Detriot” or “Detroit coffee shop”. The more specific you are, the more relevant your business will be deemed by Google to people who search for the keywords you include.
That being said, if your keywords are too specific, you may not appear in as many searches. Try using the Google Keyword Planner tool to check keywords for monthly search volume and compare your choices against each other before creating your Google Maps description.
Embed Google Maps on your website
Search for your business’s name on Google Maps and click “Share or Embed Map” and then the embed map option to grab a section of code that you can use to embed Google Maps on your website. This will help Google verify that your business actually exists at the location provided and add an extra layer of legitimacy to your Google Maps listing. Try placing the map on your contact page or in your website’s footer.
Creating and maintaining online citations for your business is a lot more than Google, Yelp, and Facebook. You’ll want to submit your business to as many credible local and national directories as possible. Each website you get listed on adds another way for Google to verify your business’s contact information. We have already touched upon the importance of maintaining consistent NAP information – make sure that all of the information in your various listings matches up.
Here is a basic list of websites to create and manage a listing for your business after your have completes your Google My Business listing.
- Apple Maps
After creating listings on these sites, you’ll want to delve into industry-specific platforms and geo-specific websites. For example, if you own a restaurant, you’ll want to create a presence on popular websites like UrbanSpoon.
Hotels and hostels will want to use TripAdvisor. Look for local business associations and community hubs to get listed locally. Be sure that the websites you creating listings for your business on are authoritative and credible. Building citations on low-quality websites will likely hurt your ability to rank high in search.
Some of these websites will allow you to create a listing for your business for free, while some of them will require payment. You’ll need to create a strategy for managing your listings and reviews on each platform. You may want to track your listings in a spreadsheet and check on them bi-monthly, for example. You may prefer to hire help and get your citations created and managed for you.
How Google determines your ranking
There are three main factors that determine where you stand within local search results. Each of the eight steps we just covered is related to one or more of these factors. Google’s local search attempts to find the most helpful results for a user who searches for their keyword of choice. The three factors Google uses to determine search results are prominence, relevance, and distance. A top SEO agency will not only help you rank in Google SERPs but also help you rank higher in Google local listings.
The more well-known you are online, the more prominent you are in Google’s eyes and in the eyes of your potential customers. Your business will enjoy higher rankings if you have created a large online presence for it. Steps number four, five, and eight on this list will add to your business’s online prominence. Here are some additional things you can do to improve your business’s prominence.
- Increase the traffic to your website.
- Grow a large social media following.
- Get more reviews on Google and other review websites.
- Get more links back to your website and your business citations.
- Increase your position in web search results.
Google wants to make sure that the suggestions provided to its users are near their location. If a user doesn’t search for a specific location, Google will use what it already knows about the user’s location or ask the user to turn location services on. Making sure that your business NAP is consistent is a large part of helping Google verify your location. Steps number three, seven, and eight from this guide will help Google discern your business’s distance from Google users.
Relevance is a major part of what determines whether you show up in search results. Google wants to deliver the best suggestions to its users. Filling out all of your business’s information, being as detailed as possible, and utilizing keywords will help Google decide that your business is relevant to a user’s search. Steps number one, two, five, and six will help your business’s relevance.
In summary, begin boosting your Google Maps ranking by completing your Google My Business listing. Work through the rest of the list and focus on thoroughness and accuracy. Each step you complete will help boost your ranking. Improving your Google Maps ranking takes substantial effort, but it will pay off when you begin showing up on the first page of search results.