When I’m looking for a company that can provide exactly what I need, be it groceries or office supplies, I use Google Maps. I know the search results give me enough information to choose the best option; B. Reviews, ratings, photos and location information.
I am not alone in my preference for Google Maps as it is six times more popular than other navigation apps. Given its popularity, it’s important that you optimize your business so that it shows up in Google Maps search results.
This article covers the basics of Google Maps marketing, best practices for optimizing your Google My Business for search results, and marketing tactics to improve your local SEO.
What is Google Maps Marketing?
Google Maps marketing is a process by which companies add relevant information to their Google My Business profile, such as: B. Opening times and customer ratings to rank higher in the search results. A higher ranking in the search results, in turn, increases the visibility of the company and increases sales.
Google Maps Marketing is beneficial for large and small businesses alike, especially due to Google Maps Local 3-Pack. Local 3-Pack are the top three companies to appear in search results that Google considers most relevant based on a user’s current location or the location they’re looking at.
The image below is an example of a local 3-pack for a Cambridge, MA restaurant query. These three companies are most relevant to Google based on the search query and where the search is being conducted.
You can think of it this way: If your Google Maps marketing strategy is geared towards optimizing your Google My Business profile for search results, Google will take note of this and display your company in the local 3-pack for relevant questions about your business. This increases visibility and increases the likelihood that consumers will visit your business and make a purchase.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool for business owners that allows them to manage and optimize their company’s profiles on Google Maps.
A Google My Business profile usually includes your company’s name, location, and hours of operation. The image below is an example of a typical Google My Business profile from one of the top restaurants from the image above.
If you claim your business using a Google My Business profile, you can optimize your Google Maps presence by ensuring that customers only have access to relevant, up-to-date information.
You can also use your profile to interact with customers as they leave reviews and to track Google Maps Ads insights to understand how customers are interacting with your profile.
Google Maps ads
While marketing on Google Maps is free, local search ads can improve your business visibility in Google Maps search results.
By using these ads, your business listing will appear at the top of searches for keywords relevant to your business. Google Maps ads use location targeting so they only show up for location-related searches. These ads appear in desktop and mobile searches (see below).
When creating ads for your business, you can track their performance to get a sense of how customers are responding to your ads and take other action, such as: For example, you can use your address to get directions from Google Maps or click on the phone number provided to call you.
How to optimize your Google My Business account
In order to appear in the Google Maps results, you need to optimize your Google My Business profile so that it contains the latest information. Let’s go through the profile elements marketers should focus on in order to perfect their Google Maps marketing strategy.
Review your company
The first thing you want to do is claim and review your business. This means that on Google Maps you claim a business as your own business. So you are the only person who can change information on your company profile.
This verification process is done through Google, and most companies can do it through the mail.
Highlight relevant categories and attributes
Categories describe your company and the services you offer. Customers often come across businesses on Google Maps by searching for categories such as “pizza restaurant” or “cafe”.
Google recommends that you select a main category that describes your overall business, e.g. B. “Pet Groomer”. Another best practice is to use additional categories that customers can use to learn more about your company’s offerings. So if you’re continuing with the previous example and you’re a zookeeper who also sells pet supplies, you’ll want to add an additional category for “Pet Supplies”.
Attributes are the amenities that a company offers, such as accessibility features or outdoor seating. Google recently added attributes to indicate when black-owned, female-owned, and LGBTQ-friendly businesses are. Google recommends companies choose the most relevant attributes to display on their profile.
Location and service areas
If your business has a branch, using the right address is crucial to optimizing your profile. Google recommends using a USPS or Postal Service approved address that contains all relevant information, such as room or suite number and a nine-digit zip code.
If your business services customers are at home or in business such as a housekeeping service, you will want to provide an address for your main location and add specific service areas where you do business.
One of the most important optimizing factors for your Google My Business profile is a streamlined introduction that gives customers a summary of your business. These introductions should be short and contain relevant keywords that users can search for. Brief descriptions of your company will appear in the tile search results (see below).
Longer descriptions will appear when a customer clicks on your company (see below).
Google recommends replying to online reviews of your business so new people can find you online and to show existing customers that you value their feedback. You can ask satisfied customers to leave reviews or motivate them in return with a voucher.
Having reviews on your profile is also a great way to create social evidence based on a psychological idea that says that people determine what is good by figuring out what other people think is right. Reviews help build social evidence as consumers value the excitement of other consumers and spend 31% more when a company has positive reviews. Consumers also trust User Generated Content (UGC) like ratings that are 9.8 times higher than paid advertising.
Still, if someone leaves a negative review, it is important that you respond. To learn how to respond to a negative review, see Google’s guidelines.
In search result summaries, ratings are displayed as star ratings in a company profile (see below).
When a user clicks on the company they’re interested in, reviews appear at the bottom of the company profile. Anyone can read these reviews, view reviews, and leave their own. This is shown in the following GIF.
According to Google, companies with photos receive 42% more requests for directions to their location and 35% more click-throughs to their website. In order to optimize your account for search, it is important that you provide pictures of your physical store and pictures of your products or services.
Customers can also upload photos. This is another form of UGC that they can benefit from in business reviews.
Best Google Maps Marketing
Let’s take a look at two examples of companies in the Boston area who have successfully optimized their Google My Business profile for effective Google Maps marketing.
When I searched for “bakery” in my area, one of the first results was Flour Bakery. Flour Bakery has used all the optimization options from Google My Business to expand its Google Maps presence. They contain a brief summary of their services, exact location, opening times and links. They also used the Google Attributes feature to highlight relevant aspects of their business, such as: B. women’s leadership and LGBTQ friendliness.
They also contain relevant photos and allow customers to leave reviews.
Flour Bakery also responds to reviews, showing existing and prospective customers that they care about the customer experience and are ready to address issues should they arise (see below).
Blue Nile Restaurant
Let’s say you’re looking for a black-owned company to help out with your next meal. When I ask for the words “in black possession”, the Blue Nile Restaurant appears.
You have successfully optimized your Google My Business profile and selected an attribute that can be used to easily identify you (black-owned). They’ve given an exact address, opening hours, and phone numbers, and given customers the chance to leave reviews and add their own photos (see GIF below).
Marketing strategies to improve local SEO
Google Maps is the most popular navigation app after a landslide, accounting for 67% of total navigation users. After Maps, Waze ranks with only 12% of all users.
This means it is an important tool in making sure local consumers can find your business.
Google Maps can help strengthen your online presence in local search results. This shows your legitimacy and relevance as a company. If you had closed months ago, you couldn’t get number 1 for “nail salons near me”. Additionally, a high search ranking will ideally convince consumers to choose your business over a competitor.
Try these three tactics to improve local search engine optimization:
Get links back to your website from local businesses or bloggers.
To improve your local SEO, you should develop a strategy for getting backlinks from other local businesses. You can create a business by linking to it in exchange for a link from another company page.
Alternatively, depending on your industry, you can reach out to local bloggers to ask for reviews. For example, if you run a bed and breakfast, you can ask travel bloggers to stay free in exchange for an online review.
Submit your site to local corporate directories.
Try submitting your website to local business directories like Yelp, Local.com, and Superpages and make sure all of the information on each website is correct. The more websites referring to your company, the better.
For example, to submit your website to Yelp, go to https://biz.yelp.com/signup_business/new and fill out the form. Once the website has been reviewed and approved by the moderators, you will receive an email on how to claim your company page.
Track performance with Google’s Insights tool.
After you’ve created a Google My Business profile and optimized it for Google Maps, you’ll want to track the analytics using Google’s Insights tool.
To access Insights on a desktop, sign in to your Google My Business account, open the place you want to manage (if you have multiple locations) and click Insights from the menu. On mobile devices, open the Google My Business app, click More, then tap Insights.
Insights can help you see the number of times people have seen your business information, the number of times people have requested directions to your location, and how customers can find your listing.
Optimize your Google Maps presence
Ultimately, a streamlined Google My Business profile is another addition to your digital marketing strategy that will add more visibility to your business, especially in Google Maps search results.
A company profile that includes an accurate address and phone number and has a significant number of customer reviews is likely to attract new customers and help you expand your reach and increase sales.