For a brick-and-mortar business, maximizing local reach is the key to sustainable growth. And, in this digital age, Google maps marketing is the engine that makes this possible.
Google Maps is the platform more than 86% of consumers use to search for a business location. With it—and the proper local SEO strategy—you can improve your online visibility and SEO rankings.
But what does a comprehensive local strategy look like?
Here’s what you need to know to shoot to the top of local search.
Table of Contents
- What is Local SEO?
- What Is Google Maps Marketing?
- How to List your Company on Google
- How to Optimize Your Google Business Page
- Google Profile Best Practices
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your digital business presence so that your website appears in both local search queries and Google Map searches. Done correctly, it makes it possible for the business page to get chosen for the coveted Google 3-Pack, also known as the “snack pack.”
Whenever a customer searches for a local business on Google, the “snack pack” (i.e., the first three organic business pages listed) is displayed above other search results. Naturally, this is prime virtual real estate, seeing as it’s the first thing a customer will see and highlights important information about your business, including:
- Type of business
- Hours of operation
- Contact information
What Is Google Maps Marketing?
Google Maps marketing falls within the umbrella of local SEO. At its essence, this strategy focuses on increasing the location’s visibility whenever a user searches for a business using the maps app.
- For mobile users – Typically, when a mobile user performs a search on Google Maps—particularly a vague one like “Mexican food near me”—the businesses will often be ranked according to proximity to the user.
- For desktop – Oftentimes, desktop search won’t be as focused on proximity. Instead, it will provide a ranked view, which is impacted by customer ratings and the on-page optimizations for that business location.
To excel at this aspect of local SEO, you must list, optimize and leverage your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business profiles).
List your Company on Google
To get found on Google Maps, your business must be listed on a Google Business Profile. This free service is dedicated to local businesses that want to share their contact details and location information, interact with customers and receive reviews.
As Search Engine Journal notes, by claiming or adding a listing, you can:
- Inform a potential customer that you sell what they’re searching for
- Confirm that you’re a legitimate local business
- Provide social proof via reviews
- Tell customers how to find, contact or shop your business
- Improve search results rankings
Claiming your business
If your business is already listed on Google Maps, but you don’t control the listing, you’ll need to claim it. Doing so will allow you to manage and optimize the page. For that, follow these steps on your computer:
- Open Google Maps
- Enter the business name into the search bar
- Select your business name
- Click Claim This Business, then Manage Now
- Follow the verification steps
Adding your business
If the business isn’t already listed on Google Maps, you can add it there in one of three ways:
- Enter your address in the search bar. Click Add Your Business in the Business Profile tab.
- Right-click the map, then select Add Your Business
- Click Menu, then select Add Your Business
Once you have done that, follow the instructions for setting up the account.
Optimize Your Google Business Page
Simply setting up a Google Business Profile won’t drive your location to the top of local searches. That requires optimization to ensure the page is as helpful and relevant to would-be customers as possible. Optimization strategies include:
Post high-quality photos
According to Google, “Businesses that add photos to their Business Profiles receive 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.” Posting high-quality images of the interior and exterior of the building and showcasing your products and services lets potential customers see who the business is and what it does.
Provide complete and up-to-date location and contact information
This may seem simple, yet many businesses get this part wrong. You need to use the exact address information that postal and delivery services use to deliver items to your store; this should include the entire nine-digit zip code. After entering the details into the fields, double-check to verify that they’re accurate.
Enter an optimized business description
Google provides a space to enter a brief business overview. This is your chance to sell the company to a would-be customer. A well-crafted snippet compels customers with a snapshot of the business’ history, service or product offerings, unique value propositions and mission. And it should include relevant keywords that users are likely to use in a web-search.
Write a brief introduction
The profile also allows you to enter a short—5 to 10 word—description of the business in a small field.
Specify your service areas
Although you may operate at a physical location, you could service a much wider area. For instance, if you’re a plumber, you should provide the geographic radius you typically operate in.
Check off relevant categories
When setting up a page, you’re required to select a primary category. However, you should also list any side categories relevant to your business and its service or product offering. That said, padding your Business page with irrelevant categories will downrank you for inaccurate information.
Deploy Best Practices
Once the page is up and running—and your brick-and-mortar location is now searchable on Google Maps—the real work begins. By following these strategies, you can further optimize your listing:
- Ask for reviews – Reviews play an essential role in your location’s organic ranking and reputation. Naturally, the more high-quality positive reviews a business receives, the better it will likely rank. But most people won’t volunteer a review—especially a positive one—unless you ask in person or send an SMS request. Therefore, you should be intentional about soliciting reviews from your customers.
- Respond to reviews – When customers do leave a review, it’s your job to respond. Doing so demonstrates that your business is responsive and values customer feedback. If a review is positive, thank the person for their kind words. And if the post is negative, provide a personalized message that responds directly to their critiques.
- Post on the page – Google provides a Google Post section for driving customer engagement and visibility with strategic keyword usage. This is a place to:
- Directly communicate with local customers
- Provide relevant information
- Promote sales, specials or events
- Engage customers with pictures and videos
- Discuss what’s new
- Use ads – Last year, Google incorporated a local search ad section on Google Maps to help drive more visits, calls and clicks. This paid service works similarly to other Google PPC ads, except you bid on location. If your ad is selected, it will appear above the three businesses in the snack pack.
Using Local Maps Marketing to Drive Local Business
For brick-and-mortar businesses, Google Maps can (and should) be your best friend. By setting up a Google Business Profile, optimizing it, and adhering to best practices, you can ensure your business appears in local search results.
But customer reviews remain the most important piece of the puzzle. The more positive reviews your page has, the better.
And if you’re looking for a way to generate more reviews, Textedly's Online Review Management Software is the solution for you.
Simply put, SMS and MMS are the most effective ways to reach customers and request a review. With our powerful platform, you can easily send SMS messages to your entire contact list with but a click.
Want to speak to locals near you? Send them a text.
Search Engine Journal. What Is Local SEO & Why Local Search Matters. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/local-seo/what-is-local-seo-why-local-search-is-important/#close
Search Engine Journal. How to Use Google My Business to Boost Your Content & SEO. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-my-business-content-seo/370717/
Google Business Profile Help. About Google Business Profile. https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038063?hl=en&co=GENIE.Platform%3DAndroid