Google Maps Marketing is by far the most vital ranking factor for Local SEO, so that’s why I decided to put together a compact guide to explain what it’s all about.
Before we get into it, let’s quickly go back to my Local SEO: 5 Essentials to Locally Increase Your Search Visibility article and review a few key facts.
- Local SEO is the SEO for small businesses in a specific neighborhood.
- Nearly half of the Google searches are local.
- 72% of consumers visit stores after a local search.
- Google returns with Local SEO 3-pack to such searches.
- An example local search looks like this: Dry Cleaning Long Island.
Also, let’s keep in mind that the buyer’s journey is concise on local businesses.
We are talking about everyday needs, so consumers don’t spend too much time on their consideration stage.
They search for what they are looking for and, soon after that, buy what they need.
That’s why being on top of the local search results for a given term alone can bring lots of revenue for SMEs.
What is Google Maps Marketing?
Google maps marketing is an umbrella term we use in local SEO.
It often refers to leveraging your Google My Business (GMB) account.
Using Google’s local search ads could also be considered Google maps marketing.
Google My Business (Organic)
At its core, GMB is a webpage that includes phone numbers, addresses, working hours, photos, and reviews.
Each time a local search is initiated, the Google algorithm compares all the available businesses within the search range and lists them.
Google Maps Ads / Local Search Ads (Paid)
Google ads allow you to advertise for local search results as well using CPC-style bidding.
This way, you can get more store visits, get more calls, and your customers learn more about your business.
But still, I recommend trying local search ads after properly establishing your GMB.
If you are a new business that needs immediate results or wants all the exposure, for example, in a seasonal campaign, local search ads will serve you well.
6 Simple Steps To Google Maps Marketing – Get The Most Out Of Your GMB!
To initiate your Google Maps marketing efforts, opening up a GMB account and optimizing the core elements are a must.
I will walk you through the most critical profile elements, step by step, to do so!
Also, you will find a few other tricks along the way!
1- Claim Your Google My Business Account & Get Verified
To start using your GMB account, you have to create a business profile and claim that it is yours.
Google usually sends a postcard to your business address, including a verification code.
It might take up to 2-3 weeks to receive your code.
Once you get your code, all you need to do is go to your account, verify your business profile.
Before verifying your GMB account, you will have limited access to Google My Business features.
Also, if you make changes in your profile, these will reflect slower than a verified page.
But once your business is verified, you can start using the platform at full scale.
If you fail to receive your postcard, you might be able to verify using an alternative method such as receiving a phone call or an e-mail from Google.
So if you don’t receive your code soon, go to your profile, click verify now and then change method.
2- Choose Your Business Category & Attributes for Google Maps
Your GMB profile also includes a primary category, additional categories also attributes.
Attributes are amenities such as car parking, toilet, and Wi-Fi.
Try to choose the most relevant primary category for your business because this will send a powerful message to Google algorithm for SEO purposes.
If you are unsure about your main category, you can check out a few high-ranking competitors beforehand.
This will give you an idea of what they have been using in terms of business categories in your niche.
For example, for a shopping mall, the main category would be a shopping mall, and additional categories can be added as restaurant, gym, dry-cleaning, and cinema.
Additional categories don’t necessarily dilute your primary business offering, but your business starts showing up in those other terms as well.
3- Add Your Business Location & Service Areas
If your business has a storefront, you must correctly add your address to your GMB.
The address section at GMB includes country, stress address, postal code, and city.
Service areas are used in businesses, such as delivery-only pizzeria when customers are served at their homes or businesses.
In that case, you would still pick the main business location and additionally mark your service areas.
Once you do that, customers within your service range can see you in the local 3 pack and Google Maps Ads.
Let’s also briefly discuss a term called NAP consistency since it’s a best practice in local SEO.
NAP is short for name, address, and phone number.
NAP consistency is creating a valid format for your name, address, and phone number and using it the same way throughout the web.
To achieve this, first, create the simplest and most accurate format for your business. Next, claim your GMB with this info.
Once your GMB account is verified, copy & paste the same format in other listings, social media, and even your link-building campaigns.
This method is straightforward & effective yet often overlooked.
Sometimes, I audit businesses with local ranking problems, and the first thing I notice is usually the lack of NAP consistency.
So don’t underestimate it and follow NAP consistency once your GMB is verified.
It’s hard to fix this kind of problem once your domain is aged.
4- Optimize Your Business Description
A couple of years ago, Google took out the business description section from GMB, but later it came back in place.
Although, some of my GMB accounts still don’t have a description section.
Nevertheless, if you have a business description section in your GMB, go ahead and optimize it.
The main reason to do that; it affects your click-through rate.
Start with an action-oriented, one-sentence description that includes a keyword and then extend it to a paragraph.
This way, Google might show a sneak peek of this description in the local search results.
Below is a good tip from Google’s business description guidelines;
Published content should highlight what makes your business unique. You can use this field to provide useful information on services and products offered, as well as the mission and history of your business. You should be upfront and honest about the information provided, focusing on content that is relevant and useful to your customers to understand your business. Content that’s irrelevant to your business or has no clear association with it isn’t allowed.
5- Get Reviews & Answer Them
According to a 2017 research by Northwestern University, Spiegel Research Center, displaying reviews can increase conversions by 270%.
Besides, it seems like you don’t always need a dozen of them; having five reviews causes purchase likelihood to increase by a factor of nearly 4x.
That’s why asking for reviews and incentivizing customers in return is an absolute best practice for Google Maps Marketing!
Replying to those reviews with your brand voice is also a great way to showcase your personality as a business and highly valued by potential customers.
6- Add Photos & Videos
You should also add photos and videos to your Google My Business account.
If you are selling everyday goods, adding a few photos, including your storefront, is the way to go.
When users search for your business, photos are beneficial for them to recognize your place, come and find you.
When we talk about more complex businesses, it’s best to add photos for each section.
For example, in a luxury hotel, you might want to add photos to your rooms, common areas, or team sections.
Don’t forget to optimize the name of your photos properly before uploading them to your account.
If your customers mostly find you through GMB, adding fresh content to your account becomes even more essential to outrank competitors.
As you can see, Google Maps Marketing doesn’t always have to be complicated; by following these simple tricks, you can ramp up your local SEO game in no time!