By now, we all know how important it is that our businesses are ranking high on search engines. We’ve pumped up our SEO budgets, started blogs, and built conversion-ready landing pages.
But did you remember to focus on your Google local ranking?
The internet has done so much to connect us to people from all around the world that sometimes, it feels geography is hardly a factor anymore. We do business with people from other states, countries, and even continents.
Does local search really matter?
Very much, actually. In fact, the numbers show that 50% of mobile users visit a business on the same day they find it on Google Maps.
If you’re not showing up on Google Maps, you could be missing out on a lot of real-world visits.
If you don’t think think that Google Maps is important, or if you don’t have the first idea of how to rank higher on Google Maps, read on.
How Google Maps Matters for SEO
When you search Google for a certain keyword, the search engine considers dozens of factors to produce the most relevant results.
One of the most important factors is location data.
For example, let’s say that you live in Bismarck, North Dakota, and you want to find a digital marketing agency.
If you hop on Google and search for “digital marketing agency,” Google will prioritize digital marketing agencies in Bismarck over companies in other locations.
If you ignore your local area though, you will lose out to competing businesses in your city.
Claim and Verify Your Google Maps Listing
Before you can do anything with your Google Maps listing, you have to claim and verify it first.
Granted, your business will probably appear on Google Maps without verifying any information at all. But without that verification, your listing might not be accurate.
It might show the wrong hours, wrong phone number, or even the wrong location if you’ve recently moved.
After you claim your listing, you’ll be able to update the correct information and add photos of your business. If the information is scarce, missing, or wrong, customers might see your listing and skip your business.
Verifying your listing increases user confidence. And since only 44% of businesses have verified their Google Maps listing, it can give you an edge against the competition.
Bonus tip: 80% of businesses don’t bother to verify their listings on Bing, which also misses valuable searches.
How To Rank Higher on Google Maps with GMB Categories
One of the ways that Google sorts through local listings is through GMB (Google My Business) categories.
Google wants to make sure that they offer relevant results for every search, so they catalog businesses into very specific categories. This is why when you google pizza places, you don’t get sushi restaurants in your results.
Select as many relevant categories as you can to help catch Google’s attention. Select all of the categories that you want to rank for.
Just don’t choose misleading categories – Google might end up penalizing you for inaccurate information.
One of the most important – and overlooked – parts of on-page SEO is NAP. This is short for Name, Address, Phone number.
If you haven’t verified your Google Maps listing, Google will add that information based on the NAP information on your website.
If the information on your website is out-of-date or otherwise inaccurate, your Google Maps listing will also be inaccurate.
Make sure the information on your website, social media accounts, and your Google Maps listing are all consistent. If they aren’t it can create confusion with potential customers.
Sync Your Socials
On-page NAP information on your website is vital to creating a successful Google Maps listing. But making sure that information is accurate is only part of the battle.
For years, customers have been looking at a company’s Facebook page before their website.
When a customer finds your company on Google Maps, they will want to check your social media before they decide to visit. It’s in your best interest to make it easier on them.
Syncing your profiles to your Google Maps listening will let them go right to your Facebook, Yelp, or whatever other social media presence your company has.
This will give them a better look at your company before they visit.
Get Customer Reviews
Google Maps is a lot more than an online directory of business information.
It also allows users the opportunity to leave reviews right on the listing.
That’s a big deal for local businesses. 91% of internet users read internet reviews before they visit a business. 84% of those users trust those reviews just as much as a personal friend.
If you have an existing base of satisfied customers, encourage them to leave positive reviews on your listing. Offer a giveaway contest for customers who write reviews.
Respond to every review you get – even the negative reviews. Customers aren’t as interested in negative reviews as much as they want to see how you try to handle it.
Your Google Maps listing will have all of this information readily available, so make sure that your response is sincere, thoughtful, and meaningful.
If a customer sees you engaging with reviews on Google Maps, they won’t just see a mix of customers experiences. They’ll see a company that honestly cares about the people they do business with. And that pays dividends.
Once you figure out how to rank higher on Google Maps, the rest will follow. You’ll start seeing more foot traffic, more phone calls, and more word-of-mouth business.
But if you want to expand your reach beyond your local area, take a look at this article for tips on using Instagram to promote your business!