If you haven’t yet discovered the power of Google Maps marketing, you are missing out on a windfall of free advertising! Google Maps helps customers find you; it sets you apart from the competition, and it can dramatically increase your bottom line. And the best part is — it is all FREE. But most people incorrectly assume that Google will automatically drive traffic to their business just because they are in a specific location.
Physical location is only one of the ways that Google Maps identifies and ranks a business. There are several other things you can do to increase your visibility, but it takes a little bit of work on your part. However, if you do put the time in, the rewards can be well worth it.
Why You Should Rank Higher on Google Maps
According to recent studies, Google Maps is used by 67% of all online consumers. And of that 67%, there aren’t many who will go past the first couple of listings when doing an internet search. That is why it is so important to increase your visibility by being one of the first to show up.
We know that consumers land where they do based on the keywords they’re searching. Keywords help to match consumers 84% more than when they type in a business’s actual name. So embedding the right keywords is one of the best tools to alert Google to match relevant searches with your business.
You also want to rank in the top three Google Maps listings because you get a prominent place just below the map where your information and ratings are displayed. Anything past the top 3 gets hidden under the “more places” tab where consumers need to search further.
How to Rank Your Listing Higher on Google Maps
Adding Yourself to Google Maps
The first step to ranking your business higher on Google Maps is to claim your listing. If you aren’t sure if your listing is visible, or you have not added your business to Google Maps:
- Go directly to the Google Maps app or google.com/maps and search your company’s name
- If you find it in the drop-down menu, then you are all set
- If you can’t, use the drop-down menu to find “add a missing place” and click on it
- You will be prompted to add your business name, location, and category
Anyone can add a business, so there is a chance that even if you haven’t added yours, someone else might have. The good news is that even if someone else has added your listing, they have no way of altering your Google Maps listing or adding information to it. The only time you can do so is if you are the one who added it, and you can prove that you are the owner of a business.
Claiming Your Google Maps Business Listing
Next, to rank higher on Google Maps, you need to claim the listing. When claiming, you have to provide more than just the name, location, and category; more details are needed. The more that you provide, the higher you will rank. But enhancing your listing can only happen after it has been claimed.
You will need to have a Google My Business account to claim your listing. If you already have an account, simply click on “own this business?” or “claim my business,” then follow the instructions.
Adding More Information to a Google Maps Listing
Once your Google My Business and Google Maps business listing are linked, you are ready to begin priming it for more visibility. Remember: the more information you provide, the higher Google will rank you. Log in to your Google My Business account and your dashboard will appear with several tabs.
Click on the “info” tab. It will have your address, service area, name, category, special hours, hours, website, products, phone number, description, and services. Use these tools to optimize your listing to rank higher on Google Maps.
Always Make Sure Things Match Up
Google ranks businesses according to the consistency of the information. Because of this, it is critical to ensure that your business name appears the same on your dashboard as it does on your listing. For example, if your company name is Southwest Healthcare System, any other variation – like “SW Healthcare System” – will hurt your ranking.
Make sure that your business name is exactly the same throughout all of your information. That means everywhere your name appears, including things like Facebook, Yelp, and other forums. Also, pay close attention to your address; the same goes for any street name abbreviations.
Add a Local Phone Number
Google is not a fan of 800 or 877 numbers because they are often linked to spam listings. Always use a local number with the area code included. It is a simple way to rank higher, and it also helps searchers verify that your business is actually located locally.
Include Your Main and Tracked Number
If your business uses call tracking, always use the tracking number as your primary and your main secondary. That way, you can track the calls that generate from Google Maps to see how well your listing is driving organic traffic. Providing both numbers serves a dual function. You can quantify the consumers that are being driven via your Google Maps listing, but Google also has the main number to compare with your website for credibility.
Keep Hours Updated
As we start to recover from COVID, hours will likely change for many businesses. Make sure that you keep up with your hours listings. Or if you were temporarily shut down, make sure that you update your listing so people don’t assume you are still closed for business. Also, when you keep your hours of operation up-to-date, Google assumes that you are an active business.
Another reason you always want to make sure that your hours are listed correctly is if someone goes to your establishment due to your posted hours and you are not open, that is likely to leave a poor impression. And it might provoke them to leave a negative review, which can severely impact your Google Maps listing.
Write a Description
Make sure to provide a detailed description of your business listing and all attributes that apply. When writing it, stay on-brand to build brand awareness and to create consistency. Keywords will be a critical part of your description, because Google Maps ranks according to your business’s name and also your services or products.
Categorize Your Business Correctly
The way that your category is listed is essential to visibility. Use the primary category to describe the core of your business. Then, check to see if any secondary or additional categories might apply. There isn’t an option to add your own category, but as you type a prearranged set of categories will show in a drop-down menu, which can sometimes be useful.
Both consumers and Google love images! It not only signals to Google that you are active; Google is starting to use images that show in local searches. One thing to keep in mind is that Google typically loves what consumers do, and potential customers want to see what you have to offer in real life. If you don’t add photos, your image will appear completely blank and unexciting.
But only use high-quality and engaging photos. Go to the “Photos” tab in your dashboard and look for a blue circle with a plus sign. Once you click on it you can drag your photos and drop them. The same is true for videos. Your goal should be to add a new image or video daily to really increase your Google Maps visibility.
Reviews are a Must!
Consumers want to know what people think about your business, and so does Google. When you open your Google Maps listing up, Google automatically allows people to add reviews. But having the ability to add them – and actually getting people to – are two separate things. Make sure to ask your customers to review your business on Google Maps. When – or if – someone leaves a poor review, you need to respond.
Customers want to know that you care about the quality of your service or product, and answering a negative review is the best way to show that you do. It can seem risky to ask people to review your business in case someone isn’t exactly pleased. But the good reviews typically far outweigh the not-so-good, if you care about your customers’ experience.
Only Have One Google Maps Listing
There are occasions where there will be multiple listings for your business. Make sure to verify that you only have one. If you find more than one listing, make sure to consolidate and delete all but one. And then go over the information to verify that it is all correct.
Posting to your Google Maps business listing is one of the best ways to enhance your visibility and ranking. It shows Google that you are active, and it also gives consumers more information about your business.
Using Your Website to Rank Higher on Google Maps
There is a lot of crossover from your business listing to your website. Therefore, your website can be a great tool to enhance your listing.
Your Website MUST be Responsive!
A responsive website functions the same on any screen size or device. Google Maps business listings have a link that goes directly to your website. And research tells us that as many as 60% of internet searchers use a mobile device. A consumer looks unfavorably on websites that make them pinch and zoom, are slow to load, or have broken links. If they have to work harder to see your info, then that can decrease your ranking significantly.
Keywords are Critical on Your Website
If you are a local business, use targeted local keywords to boost your ranking. It will also help to rank your website higher. Using location-specific keywords on your landing pages is important. Incorporate them into your About Us page, homepage, Contact Us page, and even blog post pages. Don’t just add them to your page titles, but also your image tags, URLs, body text, headings, and captions for maximum effect.
Include an Embedded Google Map on Your Website
On your contact page – or elsewhere – make sure to add a Google Map. It is an excellent way to tell Google where your business location is. Just make sure that your address matches your Google Maps listing. The way to embed a Google Map is to first search your company’s name in Google Maps. Then, click “share” and then “embed a map.” Simply copy and paste the Google Maps link to your contact page.
Google Maps listings are quickly becoming the most common way that people find a business. It is a place where they not only find you, but they can find out about you. If you are diligent about posting and follow the above tips, you will likely find yourself in the top 3 and gain a lot of advertising, and all for free. For more great tips on how to increase your traffic and bottom line, contact Fu Dog Media — we want to help you dominate the web!