Google Maps isn’t just for figuring out how to get from one place to another. It’s a valuable marketing tool to get your business to show up in Google search results. If someone in your local area searches for something you sell or provide, Google Maps has the potential to show your business in the first place in search results. Marketing using Google Maps is a very powerful tool to boost your business to greatness.
Let’s say you run a dental practice and offer services such as dental checkups, cosmetic dentistry, and dental fillings. Someone four miles away is in desperate need of a dental filling, but they don’t know where to go. So like most of us, they turn to Google for the answer. They search for “dentists near me” and your practice comes up first. The list includes your practice name, ratings, reviews, address, photos, and everything else the person needs to make a decision. Later that day, they come to your clinic with the help of Google Maps. They get a filling, and you get a new patient thanks to Google Maps.
However, this doesn’t just apply to dentists – or restaurants, fitness clubs, and retail stores. From Factories to law firms, all kinds of businesses can utilize Google Maps to drive more direct calls, in-person visits, and website visits.
You may be wondering how it all happens. What matters in marketing using Google Maps is your proximity to the person doing the search, reviews from customers, and an informative and accurate Google My Business profile.
1.What is Google Maps marketing?
Google Maps marketing is about utilizing Google My Business and local SEO techniques to help increase your local search presence for services or products. Google Maps marketing mainly focuses on the following tasks:
- Creating a listing on Google My Business
- Optimizing your listing
- Getting positive reviews
- Adding photos – links and Q&A
- Keeping your Google Map listing up to date
Why is Google Maps marketing so important?
Local searches are huge! Forty-six percent of all Google searches come from consumers looking for local information, and 86% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is Google’s business platform for managing your business presence on Google. Your profile can appear on Google Maps and Google Search. The Google My Business dashboard comes with valuable insights to see how your listing is performing on Google Maps and Google Search, and allows you to post updates or reply to customer feedback.
Understanding local packs
Local pack refers to the top businesses that appear in a local search. The search results display a map, followed by the top three business results. This is separate from the regular organic result items and ads, so you can appear in all three positions.
Why is Google My Business important?
If you want to rank well for local searches, you need to sign up for a Google My Business profile. Many people in the SEO community believe that Google My Business is the biggest contributing factor to appearing in local pack results. According to this Whitespark survey, the most important factors for local pack rankings are:
Google My Business – 33%
Reviews – 16%
Page optimization – 15%
Links – 15%
Behavior – 8%
Citations – 7%
Personalization – 6%
What Your Business Looks Like on Google Search
Local plan mobile display
The mobile search view will always contain a map of local listings for the searched area (or searches around me) and the top three results with a button to see all.
Mobile business view
The mobile view of a business listing contains less information than the desktop view. However, it still includes the company name and important button links, including listing overview, post updates, customer reviews, photos, and company summary.
Desktop view of local packs
Like the mobile search view, the desktop search view will always contain a local listings map for the searched area (or search around me) and the top three results with a button to view all.
Desktop business view
The business panel of your listing appears on the right side of your desktop screen. It contains your company or building name, relevant links, and your business address and description.
This panel often features a “Q&A” section. Consumers can ask the business (or other consumers) questions about the company or location. For example, what services they offer or whether they are open on upcoming holidays. Since anyone can answer these questions, it’s best to answer them quickly so you can provide an official response.
Below the Q&A section are recent customer reviews. Here, the public can leave reviews or upload pictures related to the business or business location.
Google My Business Dashboard
The Google My Business dashboard is the control center where users can manage everything for their business profile on Google. There are many different options available, so we’ll go through the core tabs one by one.
The Home tab is where you will find an overview of the business profile, including:
Recent customer photos
Recent customer reviews
Shortcuts for creating posts
Google My Business Posts
The Posts tab lets you pin the latest updates or promotions to your listings. It’s like posting on Facebook or Twitter, but for Google Maps and Google Search result
With Google My Business posts, businesses can publish the latest information about their brand and promote their business, thus engaging with consumers.
Google currently provides 4 different types of posts:
Notes: During the pandemic, Google is also offering a special type of post called a COVID-19 Update.
Businesses can also include a call-to-action (CTA) on their posts to guide consumers through the next steps.
Google My Business posts also have a feature that allows viewers to share your posts on social media or email platforms.
Benefits of Google My Business Posts:
- Build awareness of your brand: Google My Business posts allow you to promote your brand, products/services, special events and other offers for free
- Engage with your audience: Google My Business posts also help you connect with your customers. They can interact with your posts and share them on social media
- Increase phone calls: More and more consumers are finding all the information they need on Google without visiting the site. So writing posts about services, services, promotions or products can help provide enough incentive for consumers to contact your company directly from Google My Business.
The info tab is where you’ll find all your company information. This is where you can update your name, address, business category, opening hours, and other information.
Here you can also create a customized “short name” that you can share with prospects and existing customers.
The Insights tab is where you can find traffic data related to your listings, which is divided into three types of traffic:
- Direct – people who found your listing by searching for your business name
- Discovery – people who find your listing by searching for a category or service or product
- Branded – Customers find your listing by searching for a brand associated with your business. This means they might arrive at your prodil through a competitor’s listing
The Insights page also gives you valuable information about where your listing was viewed (Google Search or Google Maps). Any actions that consumers took, such as calling, visiting a website or asking for directions, can also be found here.
The Reviews tab is where you can reply to customer feedback. You can sort all reviews, replied reviews, and unresponded reviews. It’s a good idea to make sure every review is responded to (especially the negative ones).
On the Messages tab, once enabled, you can reply to customers directly from your dashboard. You can also receive and reply to messages on your phone by downloading and activating the feature through the Google My Business app.
Google allows businesses to upload different types of photos, including profile photos, cover photos, team photos, and interior or exterior photos of buildings.
Adding visuals is essential for your listing. According to Google, businesses that include photos are more likely to receive requests for directions to their location and more click-throughs to their website.
Google photo guidelines
Make sure you follow Google’s guidelines when adding photos to avoid problems later on:
Format: JPG or PNG
Size: between 10kb to 5Mb
Recommended resolution: 20px high, 720px wide
Minimum resolution: 250px high – 250px wide
Quality: the photo should be in focus and well lit, and there should be no significant alterations or overuse of filters. In other words, the photo should represent reality.
Photos to upload
Google recommends businesses upload the following:
At least three exterior photos at different times of the day
At least three interior photos to show customers how the company feels and looks inside
At least three photos of the products/services you offer, especially the most popular ones
At least one photo of each of your public areas
At least three photos of the executive team and employees
The Products tab is for small and medium-sized businesses to showcase their products. Once added here, products can appear on mobile phones and desktop computers in Google Search and Google Maps.
The services tab is where you can add additional services under your primary and secondary categories.
When you click “Add service,” Google will automatically recommend related services to add. If the service does not appear automatically, you can add it manually.
Notes: Added services don’t really affect your ranking position, so there’s no need to spend too much time trying to add every service you offer.
If you don’t already have a website, Google has included a simple website builder into your Google My Business dashboard. This website is already populated with the information, images and posts you’ve added to the listing. It’s a simple way for solopreneurs to get started online, but to really take it to the next level, it’s recommended that you work with a vendor to help design, create, and maintain an SEO-optimized website.
The users tab is where you can add or delete users and change the roles of existing users. The available roles are Owner, Manager, and Location Manager.
Citations and Their Impact on Search Results
What is a citation?
A citation is an online mention of local business information, such as name, address, and phone number. Citations can include local business directories, review sites, and even social media platforms.
A popular place to add your business details is on data aggregators. These are companies that collect business information and distribute it to other directories.
Why are Citations Important for Local SEO?
Google is always looking for the best ways to provide reliable and accurate information to searchers. Google ensures quality by looking for businesses that have a solid and consistent profile across the web.
*According to 2020-2021 local citation statistics, local businesses ranking in the top 10 positions on search results pages have an average of 81 local citations.
The more consistent and accurate the information Google finds across multiple citations, the more confident it will be to display that information in search results. On the other hand, if Google sees conflicting details about your business, it won’t know what to believe. As a result, it is less likely that information about your business will be displayed.
Marketing Tips Using Google Maps
1. Your business name in the real world
After setting up your Google My Business listing, you must first choose a real name for your business. You should also avoid using services in your name. This is a popular SEO hack because it can sometimes boost your ranking, but it violates Google’s guidelines and can get you removed from the list.
If your business name already contains keywords (such as lawyer or dentist), you will most likely experience increased visibility in search results.
But if your business name doesn’t have those industry keywords, don’t despair. There are many other ways to improve your Google My Business listing visibility without adding keywords to your business name.
2. Use your keywords
You’ve probably heard people talk about keywords. We recommend including keywords when you write your description in Google My Business. It’s a good idea to include keywords everywhere. When you ask someone to leave a review, when you write a reply, when you write a post – these are all places where keywords should be present.
Try to get into the mindset of your visitor, or even better, someone who knows nothing about your service. Think of what they would type into Google to find you.
Once you have a list of keywords, try to use them in your listings, on your website, and elsewhere. When users find you, they will feel like they have found the solution to what they were looking for in the first place.
3. Choose the right category
Categories in Google My Business are an important part of ranking, so choosing the right category is crucial to getting the most (and right) traffic to your listing. Let’s take a look at Google’s advice for this.
“Choose a main category that describes your business as a whole, and make it specific.”
So, be category specific with your main category. If you have a dental clinic, use that as your main category rather than the broader “dentist”.
If your company has other related service offerings, you can add them to the secondary category section, but don’t overdo it. We recommend limiting secondary categories to about three, as the more you add, the less effective they become. As Google puts it:
“Use as few categories as possible to describe your core business as a whole”
4. Basic Google My Business information you need to fix
One important step in optimizing for local SEO is to ensure that your name, address, and phone number are consistent across all platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Google My Business, etc).
If one or more of the three elements of your business changes over time, you need to make sure to update this information on every platform where your business name appears.
As stated in point 3, the Google My Business category is a very important local ranking factor for your listing on Google Maps. The right choice of categories for your business listing will drastically increase the chances of being found by your ideal customers.
Your primary category is the most important as it has greater ranking power than secondary categories. As a basic rule, you should choose your primary category based on the services your business focuses on the most.
5. Website links don’t always have to go to your homepage
Usually, website links point to your homepage. However, if you have multiple listings and dedicated location pages for each of them on your website, it’s worth testing linking directly to those specific pages. This will provide a more relevant experience to consumers as your location pages should contain specific information about the location.
6. Add ongoing photos to your Google My Business listing
Businesses with more than 100 photos receive 520% more calls than average, according to a BrightLocal survey. This study shows a clear correlation between the number of Google My Business photos and search performance.
However, keep in mind that the number of photos a business has on its Google My Business listing varies greatly by industry.
7.Build online credibility through Google My Business Reviews
Reviews help give legitimacy to a business and build customer trust. In addition, reviews are also a significant ranking factor for Google’s algorithm.
As many as 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020. Not only that, only 48% will use a business that has less than 4 stars. So, if you have less than four stars, you could be losing half of your potential customers.
We recommend looking at how many reviews your competitors have and what their ratings are. Then reach out to satisfied customers to see if they have time to leave feedback on your Google listing. You need to try and beat the number of reviews and star ratings your competitors have.
8. Post regular updates about your business
Post regularly to your Google My Business listing to keep your customers up to date. Having an active listing will also help consumers see your business as an active, interesting and professional company. Remember that posts will only be visible on your profile for seven days, so you should post content about once a week.
9. Write a compelling Google My Business description
The Google My Business description is a great place for you to tell the story of your business, your unique value proposition, and what benefits customers.
In these 750 characters, you have enough space to tell potential customers, in an honest and non-spammy way, about your business, the services and products you offer, and the locations where these products or services are sold.
10. Make sure your quotes are consistent
Consistency drives Google’s trust in your business information, so make sure your business details are consistent across the web. To find citations already on the internet, try typing in “business name” + “your postal code” or “phone number”. Check the results to make sure the address and other details are correct. If not, do what you can to edit them.
Customers can find your business online in many different ways. Google Maps and the Google My Business marketing platform provide an opportunity for business owners to put their best foot forward. Google My Business helps improve local SEO, offers a platform to interact directly with customers, and provides real-time insights to better understand your customers’ buying maps. And best of all – it’s free.
If you need help setting up a Google My Business account to take your Google Maps listing to the next level, we’ve got you covered!