Google Maps marketing is one of the most powerful and intuitive local marketing opportunities there is. Simply put, it helps customers find out about your business by searching through Google and Google Maps.
But you may ask, does Google Maps matter?
Here are some statistics to help answer that question:
- As of the start of 2021, Google got more than 92 percent of the search engine market share worldwide.
- As of February 2021, there are more than 154 million people worldwide who use Google Maps.
- In more than 70 percent of searches on Google, the searchers use the “click to call” function from the search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Between 2015 and 2018, more than 70 percent of searches include the phrase “best place to buy” followed by the product or service.
- “Near me” searches have increased exponentially in recent years
If you aren’t optimizing to be seen on Google Maps and Google search results, you are missing the chance to reach a significant percentage of your potential leads and attract more site visits and general sales.
In this guide, we will show you how Google Maps marketing works and what you can do to secure a top spot in the SERPs.
How Google Maps Works
Imagine you are spending a relaxing weekend, and suddenly you noticed that your pet is having a medical emergency. What would you do? Perhaps you will search on Google for “nearest veterinary clinic” and hope for an answer.
If you are the customer, you’ll probably be relieved to know that the nearest veterinary clinic is just five minutes away.
As a business owner, you’ll be thrilled if Google Maps will show your business in the search results especially if you are on top of the list.
That is how Google Maps work. You would want your business to show at the top of the search results for relevant keyword searches. If you are at the top of the search results, the bigger the chance that your business listing will get noticed. This is particularly true if your business lands a spot in the Local 3 pack which is the main goal of Google Maps marketing.
The Local 3 pack is a prominent Google map listing that shows customers the three businesses that Google considers as relevant to the searcher. The user will also see a pinpointing to your location in the Google map.
Based on statistics, businesses listed in the Local 3 pact receive more than 45 percent of the total clicks. This only shows the potential impact of effective Google Maps marketing campaigns on growing your business.
How Google Determines Ranking
In order to determine the best Google Maps marketing strategy, it is vital that you fully understand how Google ranks businesses in Google Maps. Google uses 3 ranking factors. These factors can affect the position of your business in the SERPs or in the Local 3 pack.
Even though there are hundreds of businesses in a given location if you try to search for keywords like “nearest Italian restaurant” or “laundry services,” Google would know what you are looking for. Ever wondered how it is possible for the search results to come up with businesses that match what you need?
The reason behind this has to do with relevance.
When users or web searchers would type in keywords related to a particular product or service they are looking for, Google will look into the intent of the search query and match the information with the available information about your business.
Under this factor, it’s important for you to have a Google My Business account that’s fully optimized for Google Maps marketing. Your company name, description, address, and business category will help Google determine how relevant your business is to the specific keywords in the searches.
Optimizing your Google My Business listing based on what works for the top listings can have a huge impact on how much visibility you can gain not only on your main operational area but also to the closest cities to your main location. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to focus on optimizing your GMB Listing as part of your Google Maps marketing strategy leading to higher engagement metrics and better conversions.
Another way to ensure that you stay competitive under this factor is to know how your business fares with the rest of your competitors not only from a GMB perspective but also in relation to additional factors, such as site authority, speed performance, etc.
You can do this using GMB Crush. GMB Crush is a Google My Business audit tool that will give you insights into what your competitors are doing with their Google My Business strategy and if Google is rewarding them because of their strategy. Based on the insights, you can then plan your strategy to improve your own action plan to maximize your exposure and beat your competitors.
Google wants to display businesses that are closest to the searcher’s location. If a user has turned the location services on, Google is able to generate even better results with a list of businesses near them. In terms of proximity, we have the feeling that Google Maps will become more assistive and personal with new features that help you figure out what to eat, drink, and do–no matter what part of the world you’re in. That’s exactly what Google Maps is doing with its “Your Match” feature.
Google Map’s calculations are based on machine learning: That means the more places you rate and visit, the more accurate your matches will become. According to Google’s blog, “Your matches change as your own tastes and preferences evolve over time—it’s like your own expert sidekick, helping you quickly assess your options and confidently make a decision.”
It’s important to note that with the proximity factor, Google will base it on the known location of the user and the location of your business. Exponentially with the help of the AI, Google will better define a “match score” for each user, eventually suggesting places and local businesses that best match a person’s profile.
That means that big or small businesses will have the same opportunity with regards to proximity.
While you can’t directly influence this factor, you have control over growing your location authority and relevance. Make sure to be consistent with your business address across the different online channels.
3. Brand Prominence
Prominence is perhaps the most difficult ranking factor to work on. Brand prominence doesn’t happen overnight and it takes a lot of effort to build it.
One of the factors that Google considers under this factor is how well-known your business is, both online and offline. One of the things that Google takes into account under this criteria is your reviews. A review could either have a negative or positive impact on your business. Needless to say, a positive review can help you rank while a negative review can pull you down.
Since positive feedback can help establish your prominence, it’s a good idea if your Google Maps marketing efforts will take this into consideration. We will discuss more how to get positive feedback in our optimization tips.
Additionally, brand prominence is also based on other information that Google has about your business from various sources across the Internet, including articles, outside links, and directories. The more efforts you put into link building, the better the local position you are building for your business.
Now that we have a good idea of how Google ranks businesses in Google Maps, you can then layout your Google Maps marketing plans to optimize your listing.
4 Effective Google Maps Marketing Strategies
These strategies can help improve your rank on Google Maps and ultimately increase the organic traffic to your site and improve your conversion rate.
1. Optimize your Google My Business listing
One of the effective strategies for local optimization and Google Maps marketing involves optimizing your Google My Business listing. This listing is what Google will show your target audience when your business appears through Google Maps.
But before you can optimize your listing, you should first claim your business. You can claim and add your business through Google Maps or directly through Google My Business.
After you claim your business, you also need to have it verified. You can only manage your business information if your listing is verified.
It’s after the verification process that you can already start with the following marketing optimization strategies:
Tip #1 – Add your complete name, address, and phone number (NAP).
Once you’ve claimed your business on Google My Business, you can start optimizing your profile by making sure that your business name, address, and phone number are correct and consistent across the different platforms online. If someone sees your phone number on Facebook or any other online directory, it should be the same phone number you listed on your Google My Business account. Being consistent in your contact information will not only help avoid confusion but also tells Google about your relevance.
If for example, you have a storefront that has a different address than your business mailing address, use the former if it is where you want your customers to visit. Once your account is fully set up, try to search for your business on Google Maps and see if your business address is showing on your Maps listing, if not, return to your profile and tick the box that lets you list your physical address.
Tip#2 – Select the right categories for your business.
This step is very important as it helps Google identify your relevance to specific keyword searches. For your listing to be fully optimized, don’t limit yourself to choosing only one category. Your business may fall under multiple relevant categories and you want your business to show up on any of those categories’ keyword searches as well.
If you aren’t sure which categories to choose, you can also utilize our GMB Crush tool.
With GMB Crush you can identify the additional categories your competitors are using as well as how those categories are ranked. You can use this vital piece of information to make the necessary updates to your business listing.
Tip #3 – Add a URL link to your business website.
When completing your listing, it’s vital to add a URL link to your website. The URL should take your customers to a page where they can take an action such as book a service, buy a product or subscribe to your newsletter among others.
Tip #4 – Upload photos
Another optimization strategy to help your business gain visibility on Google Maps results is to add relevant photos that show more the personality of your business. Photos will help them get to know your business such as the activities and events you hold, products you offer, your community service, and more. Google’s guidelines state the photo should be in JPG or PNG format.
Tip #5 – Add more posts
Adding more posts to your listing can also help gain good results from your Google Maps marketing efforts. Google loves businesses that are up to date with their posts.
In your Google My Business account, you can add different types of posts including events, specials or discount offers, and announcements. Make your post short but detailed. And if you have to add photos or videos, make sure they are of good quality and follow Google’s guidelines.
With the free GMB Crush Audit feature you can analyze a single GMB Listing, and retrieve the following parameters:
- Business Title
- Main Categories
- Hidden Categories
- Amount of Reviews
- Total GMB Post count
- GMB Post Publishing Frequency in the last 90 days
- Post dates
- Competitor`s Post Count & Publishing frequency
Analyze your top 3 competition`s post count and publishing frequency over the last 90 days. By knowing your competition`s publishing frequency and post count you can adjust your content strategy to overtake your competition!
Tip #6 – Optimize your GMB Description
One of the most crucial aspects of Google Maps marketing and SEO has to do with your business introduction or description on Google My Business. Your description or introduction will not only help your potential customers learn about your business but it will also help Google identify your relevance to a search.
You can create a compelling description of your business without overstaffing it with keywords. In the description, mention the products or services you offer together with some keywords or keyphrases that you think web searchers will use when finding your business. For example, if you are offering dog grooming services, include keyphrases such as “dog groomer.”
Completing and optimizing your Google My Business listing is vital for SEO and Google Maps marketing. With a complete and optimized listing, you’ll have a better chance to rank higher on Google Maps results.
2. Solicit Reviews
People loved to read unbiased reviews from other customers. In many cases, reviews help customers in making a decision on whether or not to get your services. While it’s not clear as to how the Google Maps algorithm uses reviews to rank businesses, one thing is for sure: if you have more quality and positive reviews than your competitors, your business will be a lot more competitive and that is good for your local SEO and digital marketing as a whole.
When we say reviews, we are not talking here about reviews on your Google My Business listing only. The more positive reviews you have from various review platforms online such as Yelp, TrustPilot, and Facebook, the more Google will consider you as prominent and well-known. And as we have learned, prominence is one of the ranking factors that Google uses on the Maps.
Tip #1 – Ask
There are different tactics that Google considers as acceptable when soliciting reviews, but one of the simplest ways is to ask. Now, timing here is important. If you’ll ask a happy customer to leave a review after you provided good service, you have a good chance of getting one.
Tip #2 – Make it easy for your customers to leave feedback
Another way to solicit reviews is to make it easier for the customers to leave a review for your business. If a customer will have to go to the review website and search your business on the platform, that’s too much effort on their part which reduces your chance of getting feedback. On the other hand, if you just provide a single link that automatically redirects to the page where they can start typing their review, you will increase your chances of getting more feedback.
Tip #3 – Respond to reviews promptly, even to the negative ones
Apart from soliciting reviews, it’s also important to respond to reviews whether they are positive or negative feedback.
For positive feedback, you can give a short and sweet thank you response.
On the other hand, for negative reviews, don’t reply with a personal attack. Instead, be courteous and thank the customer for their honesty. If applicable, address the concern of the customer so that other people who will read it will understand the background of the situation and they will not take it against you. Your timeliness in responding to reviews is good for your local SEO and Google Maps marketing campaign as well.
3. Get Quality Backlinks
A local SEO strategy designed for Google Maps will not be complete without getting backlinks from other websites that are relevant to your industry. Backlinks affect how Google sees you as relevant and prominent.
To improve your local SEO, you need to plan your strategy on how to get quality backlinks. You could start by asking around if you know a local blogger with a well-visited site. You could also collaborate with other local businesses for them to add a link to your site and in exchange, you will do the same for their website.
If you are keen to participate in community events, that’s also a good opportunity to be featured in local publications and earn a link from them. Another effective strategy would be to submit your site to local online directories. Local directories would usually add the details and NAP of your business with a link to your website.
Quality backlinks are good for Google Maps marketing for two reasons. One, you could increase the organic traffic to your site visits, and the second is it increases your relevance and prominence in the local scene.
4. Keep track of your performance and of your competitors’ listings
After all your Google Maps marketing campaigns, it is just right to also monitor if your strategies are really working. There are various insights tools that you can use for this purpose. Google My Business can also give you insights into how your business is performing in the Google Maps app and Google search engine. What’s more challenging is to keep track of your competitors’ performance.
Knowing how Google ranks your competitors’ business listings will help you assess how much effort you will need to beat the competition. From there, you can start planning your next step to improve your online presence and increase your organic traffic. Fortunately, GMB Crush can also help in this area.
GMB Crush will give you insights into your competitors’ listings, particularly on how they utilize and optimize their Sitelink, Google My Business accounts as part of their local marketing and SEO efforts.
You’ll be able to see their number of posts for the next 90 days, the categories they used to rank, and how they write their descriptions (such as when they overstuff their descriptions with keywords), and much more!
Knowing what your competitors are doing and how Google rewards them for their effort would make you want to emulate the strategies that work for them and avoid the mistakes they do.
GMB Crush Takeaways
In this day and age when more and more people are using Google Maps to find places, products, and service providers, it is just right that your business should start focusing on your Google Maps marketing and SEO tactics. More and more entities are now into digital marketing so if you don’t take any action now to improve your online presence particularly in Google Maps, you are missing many potential customers.
When it comes to Google Maps marketing, GMB Crush can help you by reverse engineering your competitor’s Google My Business success. This way, you will have a better chance of landing a top spot on Google Maps.
SEO Lover, my motto is Action Over Words.