Implementing local SEO for small brick-and-mortar businesses is one of the most affordable, yet effective tactics to get more conversions.
When a business is listed on the top 3 of Google Maps ranking, simply more and more people will ask for directions for this business, call the business directly from the search result, and even make purchases.
So, in this guide, we will learn about how we can improve our Google Maps ranking through local SEO. First, let us discuss the key factors that will affect your Google Maps ranking.
The Important Factors That Affect Your Google Maps Ranking
While there is always much debate regarding the ranking factors affecting Google Maps ranking, according to Moz’s report, here are the most important ones:
- Your business’s position. The closer it is to the searcher, the better (provided you also win in other factors).
- Your Google My Business listing optimization: how accurate and complete your information is, keyword usage, optimizations on categories and description.
- Backlinks, the more inbound links from high-quality sites, the better.
- Quantity and quality of reviews, as well as diversity. In short, the more positive reviews you have on Google Maps and third-party sites, the better.
- Technical on-page optimizations from keyword usage, NAP optimizations, load speed, mobile-responsiveness, and so on.
- Citation: the number of times your NAP is mentioned by other sites online. Consistency of NAP information across all the different sites and directories is also important.
Based on these six factors, here are what we can do to rank higher on Google Maps.
Google Maps is tied to your Google My Business account: the more optimized your GMB listing is, the higher you will rank. So, here are the key steps to optimize your GMB listing:
1. Register and verify your GMB page
Before we can optimize the Google My Business listing, we must first register for a listing. The registration process is fairly simple, and you can follow the steps here.
After you’ve registered a listing, you will have to verify your account, which will unlock a few extra features (for example, Google Posts). Usually the verification process is done via a postcard: a postcard will be sent to your physical business address, which will contain a PIN you can use to verify your listing.
2. Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP)
Pay extra attention to your NAP, because this will be your business’s main identity not only on Google Maps, but on your site and other third-party platforms. Make sure to use an accurate, up-to-date NAP information.
Your NAP information should always be consistent, whether when you are listing NAP information on your site or when building local citations (more on this later). Information inconsistency can significantly hurt your ranking.
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You can use more than one categories, as long as they are relevant to your business. Remember that this is about what your business do and not what you are selling.
Categories are also a good opportunity to reach out to various types of audience, so think carefully and choose as many categories as you can, as long they are relevant.
4. Keyword Density
Include your target keywords and search phrases in your GMB listing. You can especially use the “description” section to optimize for your target keywords. Remember that the main principle here is not to focus too much on optimal density, but rather to include your keywords naturally and make sure your content is comprehensive for human audience.
You should also optimize your website for keywords, as your website URL will be listed in your GMB listing.
5. Optimizing Images, Photos, and Videos
Businesses that use photos will get more engagement compared to those who don’t.
According to Google’s own report, businesses that display photos get 35% more site visitations and 42% more direction requests. In short, well-taken photos will boost conversions.
Generally, these are some types of images that should be included in your GMB listing:
- Your logo: the identity of your business. Make sure it’s well-displayed and engaging.
- Cover photo: the landscape image featured on the very top of your GMB page. Use this opportunity to highlight unique values of your business or to set up an overall mood for your page.
- Various photos: you can technically display all kinds of photos, but Google might (and will) review them for quality, appropriation, and relevance.
- Profile photo: pretty self explanatory. You can also use photos tagged by other people as your profile photo.
- Videos: you can display videos up to 30 seconds long.
If you want to further optimize your images, you can optimize them with EXIF metadata.
6. Accurate Business Hours
Make sure to display accurate business hours on your listing. Whenever you made any changes to your business hours, make sure to update your GMB listing.
Google does offer the option to customize business hours for special events and holidays. Use this feature to automate some of your work.
Remember that accurate business hours are also important information for your customers, so make sure they are up-to-date.
7. Using GMB Insights and Analytics
Google offers powerful insights and analytics tools within your GMB dashboard. Use it to find various information and further optimize your listing when necessary. You can find information such as:
- How and where your customers find your listing, including what keywords they are using on Google search
- Whether they have viewed and have taken a specific action after viewing your photos and videos
- The actions they took when they found your listing (asking for directions, calling your number, and so on).
Remember that your end goal is not solely to rank higher, but to satisfy your customers and get more conversions. Use the Insights feature to your advantage.
8. Building Local Citations
As mentioned further above, citation quantity is one of the strongest ranking signals for Google Maps ranking.
The main approach when building local citations is to list your business on various online directories. You can start by listing your business on major platforms according to your niche. For example, you can list your business on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other major platforms. You might want to check out this list by Hubspot to get started.
Next, you can look for various online directories according to your location, business type, and industry. Use these lists as your starting point:
The important principle here is to maintain information consistency across all of your listings, especially your NAPs. So, if you, for example, move your business address, you will need to update all of your listings.
The keys to success here are quantity and consistency. Building local citations can be tedious, but will have a long-term, sustained effect.
Now that you’ve learned about the essential tools and tactics for local SEO, it’s time to start your journey to rank higher on Google Maps. You can also reach out to SEO experts like Mike who offers affordable local SEO services for small businesses.
Remember that the key here is consistency. Continuously monitor your progress, make sure your to always keep your information up-to-date, and maintain consistency.