Nowadays, Google Maps’ results are so prevalent for people looking for local businesses near their location. A lot of people are using “near me” search queries on their mobile phone, and if your business can show up on the top results, you can get a significant boost in conversions.
Here, we will discuss 5 most important optimizations you can implement to improve your ranking on Google Maps, starting with the first one.
1. Complete and Consistent Information
Google will use the information you place in your Google My Business account to determine whether your business is relevant for their audience. If so, they will recommend your business and push your listing up the rankings.
So, make sore to input accurate, up-to-date, and consistent information especially for these:
- Your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number), arguably the most important pieces of information for local SEO.
- Your site URL. Google will crawl your site and check for its credibility, which can impact your Google Maps ranking.
- Business description. The key here is to remember that this section should describe what your business is and not what you sell. Optimize this section to include your target keywords naturally, but remember that it should be comprehensive for your human readers.
- Business category. Similar to description, fill out the respective categories according to what your business does. You can use more than one categories—in fact, you should—. Use this opportunity to attract as many relevant audiences as possible.
- Attributes. You can inform your customers about your unique values, for example you can inform your audience if your business offer outdoor seating.
It’s also important to maintain consistency if you list your business on other platforms (Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.). Information inconsistency can significantly impact your ranking. So, if for example, you recently change business address, you will need to update it on all your listings.
2. Quantity and Quality of Positive Reviews
Reviews are a very important ranking signal for Google Maps, and we can’t also deny that reviews are a strong influence affecting many people’s purchase decisions.
86% of customers nowadays read reviews before deciding on a purchase, especially when considering brick-and-mortar businesses.
Google actually encourage us to get as many positive reviews as possible, so the question is, how can we encourage more reviews? Basically there are two main approaches we can take:
- Offering incentives. We can offer discounts and even freebies for those who are willing to leave reviews.
- Responding to existing reviews. People are more likely to give reviews for businesses that frequently respond to reviews. They will feel that the business will provide solutions when they have issues, and will show appreciation for positive reviews.
So, handling negative reviews is also an important aspect here. Respond to bad reviews quickly and politely, and don’t offer any false promises. Also, remember that valid negative reviews always have its underlying issue. If you don’t fix this issue, you’ll keep getting similar negative reviews.
Also, recognize “fake” reviews with malicious intents. If you have sufficient proofs, you can ask Google (or other review platforms) to take out this particular review. You might want to pursue legal actions depending the severity of the case.
3. Optimizing Images and Videos
According to Google themselves, businesses that feature photos get 40% more request for directions. Well-taken photos and professional-looking images can significantly boost conversions, which can indirectly affect your ranking.
In Google My Business, you can feature four different types of media:
- Regular photos: basically any kinds of photos, but remember Google can review your images for quality and appropriation. Other people (including your customers) can tag you with their photos.
- Profile photo: quite obvious. You can choose any of your photos to represent your business’s identity, including those tagged by other people.
- Cover photo: a landscape image on the very top. You can use this to show interesting qualities of your business.
- Videos: you can upload videos with a maximum length of 30 seconds. Use this opportunity to attract customers with engaging, relevant videos.
4. Use Google Posts To Engage and Attract Customers
Google Posts is a fairly new feature, introduced by Google in late 2017. With Posts, you can “post” content related to your business listing, which will show on your Google Maps’ search results page.
These posts can include content such as:
- Announcing new products and/or services with interesting photos and images.
- Inviting people to join an upcoming event.
- Informing your audience for any information.
- You can use interesting Gifs to attract and engage audience, and you can also include various CTA buttons from “learn more” to “buy”.
The more engagement you get on your Posts, the better Google will perceive your business, which can boost your ranking.
The “Posts” button should appear on the left of your Google My Business sidebar, but it’s only available for verified Google My Business account.
When using Google posts, here are some important things to consider:
- The maximum number of words allowed in a single post is 300. If you use CTA buttons, however, only 70 characters will be displayed on mobile devices.
- Don’t always aim to sell. You can engage your audience with various content types and information. Your main goal here is also engagement, not solely conversion.
- Google does provide a very useful insights and analytics feature. You can track your posts’ performances and adjust when necessary.
- A single post will stay for a week (7 days) an you can set a shorter time period. So, it’s important to post time-specific content.
5. Building Local Citations Effectively
In local SEO, local citations have the same values as backlinks. In short, a very important ranking factor.
A citation, in a nutshell, is any online mention of your business’s NAP(Name, Address, Phone Number), and the more citations you have, the better Google will perceive your business.
The main approach in building your local citations is to list your business in online directories according to your location and niche. Start from major ones like Yelp and Facebook Places among others. Then, do a quick Google search to find local online directories according to your niche.
You can also use these lists to help you out:
The key here is to build as many citations as possible while maintaining consistency of information, especially your NAP.
Building local citations can be a rigorous work, so this might be the area where you’d want to get help from agencies specializing in local SEO.
The main considerations when optimizing your Google My Business listing are complete and accurate information; quantity and consistency of local citations; as well as the number of positive reviews.
While technically, it’s not too difficult to execute yourself, maintaining consistency can be a tough process in the long run. However, all these hard work will pay off in the end, as ranking on the Google Maps’ 3-pack can significantly boost conversions and revenue.