It’s no secret that SEO (Search Engine Optimization), or appearing in search results for your desired keyword, is important for businesses large and small. After all, what good is a website if no one can find it?
While most people are familiar with the basics of SEO, there is one lesser-known element that can be particularly important for businesses with a brick-and-mortar location: Google Maps. This is extremely important for potential customers searching on mobile devices as they can get one touch directions or click to call.
Google Maps SEO
Google Maps is a mapping service provided by Google that enables users to find local businesses and get directions to them. It is an incredibly powerful tool, and one that should not be ignored when trying to optimize your website for local search and keywords. It displays your business information including a business description, business hours, and detailed business products and services.
Here’s a closer look at why Google Map matters for local SEO and how you can make sure your business appears when people are searching for products or services in your area.
What is a Google Map Citation?
A google map citation is a citation that appears on a google map. It includes the name of the business, the address, and the phone number. It may also include a website link. A google map citation can help potential customers find your business, and it can also help improve your google ranking. In order to add a google map citation to your business, you will need to create a google my business listing.
You can do this by going to google.com/business and following the instructions to verify your business. Once you have created your listing, you can add a google map citation by editing your listing and adding the appropriate information, including your physical address. This can be done on a desktop computer or mobile device.
The Role of Google Maps in Local SEO
Google Maps appears in two different places on the search engine results page: the main organic listings and the “Local Pack.” The Local Pack is a collection of three local businesses that appear at the top of the page above the organic listings, and it is generated based on the searcher’s location and query, aka keywords.
Getting Found For Local Search
For example, if someone searches for “pizza delivery near me,” they will see the Local Pack results before they see any organic results. This is known as local intent. The basis behind Google’s focus on intent in the recent updates is to provide a better result for their customers or searchers.
Appear in Local Searches
This makes sense when you think about it; after all, what good are organic results if the searcher isn’t even close to your location? The Local Pack, on the other hand, only displays businesses that are in close proximity to the searcher, making it much more likely that they will visit one of those businesses.
Optimize Your Google Business Profile Listing (Formally Known as Google My Business)
In order to appear in the Local Pack for your desired keyword, your business must have a verified Google Business Profile listing. Your Google Business Profile, previously GMB listing is what tells Google your business’ name, address, phone number, hours, website, etc. Once you have claimed and verified your listing, you will want to make sure all of your information is accurate and up-to-date; otherwise, you run the risk of losing out on potential customers who may go to one of your competitors instead.
Reviews Are Extremely Important
Besides appearing in the Local Pack, having a Google Business Profile listing also allows you to collect reviews from customers, which can be displayed on both your GMB listing and your website (assuming you have implemented proper Schema markup). Positive customer reviews not only improve click-through rates—they also help improve your organic rankings over time and help you rank higher on google maps.
When customers leave reviews on your Google Business Profile listing, they are also giving you valuable feedback that you can use to improve your business. Perhaps there is a negative review left by someone who didn’t receive their pizza as quickly as they would have liked. In this case, you would know to adjust your delivery times so that future customers don’t have the same experience.
Respond to Every Google Business Profile Review
Business owners also underestimate the importance of responding to reviews. Responding to Google reviews is a great way to build trust and credibility with potential customers. By taking the time to respond to reviews, you are showing that you value your customers’ feedback and that you are willing to work to improve their experience. In addition, responding to positive reviews can help to boost your business’s image and encourage potential customers to give your products or services a try.
Build Trust and Rapport
Aside from building trust and rapport with your customers and potential customers, responding to your Google Business Profile reviews, whether they are 5 star or 1 star, sends Google a signal that your business is alive and thriving. In essence, you are telling Google that you paying attention.
Give More Information About Your Business Location
This is also a great chance for you to add some valuable information about your business back to your customers. You may tell them about other services you offer, specials your are running and more. Successful review responses often include keywords and geo-locational signals.
Think of Google as a business. They are in the business of providing results to their customers, aka “Google Searchers.” If they do not provide the best results they can to their customers, their searchers may use another search engine.
Google has created a complex algorithm, that is ever changing to help display results for each customer’s search query on Google searches. Google uses this algorithm to determine its ranking factors. Responding to reviews is part of this algorithm, along with much of the other points in this blog post.
How to Optimize Your Google Maps Listing for Local SEO
1) Claim Your Business Listing
The first step in optimizing your Google Maps listing is to claim it. To do so, simply search for your business on maps.google.com and click on the “Claim this business” button.
Once you’ve verified your business by claiming your listing, you’ll be able to add important information like your business name, address, including street, city and zip code, and hours of operation. This is especially important if you have a physical location. You’ll also be able to upload photos and manage reviews.
2) Add Keywords To Google Business
Once you’ve claimed and verified your listing, it’s time to start adding keywords. Keywords are the words or phrases that potential customers use when they’re searching for a business like yours and improving your Google Maps Ranking. For example, if you own a pizza restaurant, some of the keywords you might want to include are “pizza,” “delivery,” and “New York.”
Include these keywords in your business name, address, and categories field. You should also use them throughout your description. Remember to use keywords naturally—stuffing them into your listing will not only turn off potential customers but could also get you penalized by Google.
3) Optimize Your Photos
Photos are an important part of any local SEO campaign—especially when it comes to Google Maps listings. Before you upload photos, make sure they’re high-quality and relevant to your business. Then, add captions and tags with relevant keywords. These tags will help Google understand what’s in each photo and could help your listing show up in image searches.
Photo Location Metadata
Photos taken on most smartphones also include location metadata encrypted as EXIF, Exchangeable Image File. Since this information is stored in each photo as readable data, many SEO marketing agencies believe Google can read this data thus receiving geo-locational signals connecting your listing to that place.
4) Encourage Customer Reviews
Customer reviews play a big role in local SEO—the more positive reviews you have, the higher your ranking will be.So how do you get them? The best way is simply to ask! Send an email or postcard to recent customers and let them know that you’d appreciate a review on Google Maps (or wherever else they might frequent).
You can also include links to review sites in follow-up emails after someone makes a purchase from you or interacts with your business in some other way. Just make sure you’re not paying for reviews—that’s against Google’s guidelines (not to mention unethical).
5) Add Posts to your Google Business Profile
Many business owners are familiar with adding posts to social media and blog posts to their website, but did you know it is important to add posts to your GMB profile too?
If you manage a Google My Business profile, you know that one of the most important things you can do is to keep it up-to-date. Regularly adding new posts helps to show potential customers that your business is active and engaged. It also gives you an opportunity to share relevant information about your products, services, and special offers.
Keyword Rich Content
In addition, adding posts to your GMB profile can help you to boost your SEO. When you add keyword-rich content to your posts, you’re giving search engines more opportunities to index your website. As a result, you may see an increase in your organic traffic levels. So if you’re looking for ways to improve your online visibility, be sure to add some fresh content to your GMB profile on a regular basis.
In short, Google Maps should absolutely be part of your local SEO strategy. By claiming and verifying your GMB listing and ensuring that all of your information is accurate and up-to-date, you can help improve both your organic rankings and click-through rates from potential customers searching for businesses like yours online.
Google Maps should be an integral part of any local SEO strategy. By claiming and verifying your Google Business Profile, formally known as GMB listing and keeping all of your information accurate and up-to-date, you can help improve both your organic rankings and click-through rates from potential customers searching for businesses like yours online in organic search. When done correctly, optimizing for Google Maps can help drive more foot traffic through your door—which is music to any small business owner’s ears!
By Kyle TheilPublished On: October 21st, 2022Last Updated: October 21st, 2022Categories: News
Kyle is the owner of Visual Realm a full service marketing and ad agency, specializing in web design, ppc and seo. He has been running Visual Realm since 2005 growing with the ever changing online landscape.