Google Maps marketing is a great way for businesses to attract the attention of local searches on Google. In fact, studies suggest that roughly 80% of searches with local intent result in a conversion. This is due to the specificity of said searches. When users search for specific businesses near them, they’re likely to have already made the decision to buy something.
Marketing your business online consists of a number of different methods, with each method consisting of multiple stages. Using Google Maps as a marketing tool might not be at the top of your list – but its effectiveness can’t be disputed. In this article, we’ll help kick off proceedings by outlining and simplifying the optimization process for beginners.
Start With Google My Business
If you want to increase your brand’s visibility, Google Maps marketing is a crucial process that will do just that. First and foremost, you’ll need to create a Google My Business (GMB) account – a free service that allows you to set up your own company profile.
Simply go to the GMB page (https://www.google.com/business/) and create a listing for your business. Follow the steps and verify your profile at the end. Make sure you include as much information as possible!
The information displayed on your GMB profile can include any or all of the following:
- Company name
- Company description
- Contact details (phone number, address, business hours, locations)
The idea behind providing such information is to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find your business online. Increased visibility is directly linked to increased conversion. If finding your business is difficult or tedious, users simply won’t bother!
Google Maps Ranking Factors
According to research conducted by Moz, there are eight factors that contribute towards ranking on Google Maps. In descending order of importance, the eight ranking factors are the following:
- Google My Business signals (25%)
- Links Signals (16%)
- Review signals (15%)
- On-page signals (14%)
- Citation signals (11%)
- Behavioural signals (10%)
- Personalisation (6%)
- Social signals (3%)
1. Get More Online Reviews
Reviews have a significant impact on your ranking potential, the extent of which can be seen by the number of businesses training their employees to ask for and respond to reviews once a transaction has been made.
While Google reviews are beneficial for local SEO purposes, their usefulness doesn’t stop there. Studies have shown that 85% of customers read online reviews for local businesses before making a purchasing decision – an enormous figure.
Reviews appear in your Google Maps profile. Being review-oriented, while daunting, incentivises you are your staff to provide a better service. The fear and repercussions of disgruntled customers leaving scathing reviews will have you ensure this doesn’t happen. They also:
- Improve the customer experience
- Helps build and maintain social proof
- Manages your potential customers’ expectations
- Can help to sell your products or services
As far as ranking goes, it’s not just about accumulating as many reviews as you can (although that does help!), there are also many other factors to consider. Constantly ask for reviews, but not too early. Only ask once they’ve had a chance to solve a problem (if there was one). Here are the other contributing factors to your review’s ranking potential:
- Whether there is text along with a star rating
- The specific words of the text (fake Google reviews are easy to detect)
- The overall star rating
- Review consistency
- Sentiment spectrum (extremely negative to extremely positive reviews)
2. Build Local Links
We discussed the basics of link building in our previous article, “Building Links for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide”. Link building directly contributes to ranking on Google Maps, and building ‘local’ links will naturally have a much higher probability of attracting customers to your business.
The process of link building requires an active approach, where the business owners must take it upon themselves to seek out other local businesses. This will help to establish future relationships that benefit both parties.
It must be said that the quality of links takes precedence over the quantity. Google’s algorithm is partial one or two links from reputable websites, compared to several that could have been bought or obtained from questionable sources.
A good place to start would be to contact local businesses that you already have a relationship with; businesses that operate in niches that compliment – as opposed to compete – with your own. Services such as testimonials, guest blogging or even a joint venture could be exchanged in return for a link to your content on their website!
3. Remove Dubious Listings
People will do whatever it takes to get ahead when their potential earnings are threatened. The prevalence of ‘spam’ in Google Maps gives us a look at how your competitors might attempt to cheat their way to a better ranking; fortunately, there are tactics in place to halt their undeserved ascendency.
Fake Google Maps listings might appear legitimate at first, but after taking a couple of minutes to investigate, you might notice that they contain falsified reviews, a website that doesn’t exist or links to somewhere else, or even a non-existent physical address!
Google Maps gives you the option to ‘Suggest an Edit’ to all the apparent fake Google Maps listings, giving you the chance to stake a claim on their spot by altering or removing the listing entirely! Sounds good, right?
If the edit doesn’t work, you can always lodge a formal complaint using Google’s Business Redressal Complaint Form (https://support.google.com/business/contact/business_redressal_form). This form will allow you to supply evidence of spam in much greater detail.
If you want to increase the number of local leads to your business, Google Maps marketing is the way to go. With a thorough optimization strategy, your business could see a consistent drive in local potential customers – individuals with ‘high intent’, who are often more than ready to make a purchase! Don’t pass up the opportunity.