Who does not use Google Maps at least once in a while? Google Maps have progressively become more visible in google search results in recent years, for a variety of search queries. Given its focus on location and proximity, it makes sense that when users look for an Italian restaurant near them, google displays a map at the top of the search results, with a few pins representing nearby restaurants offering Italian delicacies. As this is clearly convenient and useful for the users.
It is this emphasis on location and proximity combined with the rise of mobile phone usage in the past decade that explains the success and prominence of Google Maps. Mobile traffic has surpassed desktop traffic or all other types of traffic combined, and keeps on rising. As people always walk around carrying their cell phones, it is no wonder that they are interested in getting search results near them, and Google Maps is a perfect fit to satisfy this demand.
Google Maps get plenty of online traffic, which is estimated at more than one billion visitors per month. As one can imagine, the marketing potential for any business is gigantic, and not just for Italian restaurants. As people get more familiar with Google Maps, they search directly from Google Maps itself for any service or product, not just fine European cuisine.
All kinds of local businesses, as well as large corporations, can benefit from this new form of online traffic. But this is still somehow uncharted territory, as millions of business owners want to jump on the bandwagon. Google Maps remains a new and evolving platform that Google keeps on upgrading, and business owners need to learn how to best use it. That’s why we show below 5 tips to better understand and benefit from googling my business and Google Maps.
1/ Check your competition
The first step in optimizing your maps listing is to have a look at your competition. Enter the search term you want your business to be found for, such as “accounting services” or “real estate agency”, and look at the top results. By checking each listing one by one, you will be able to gauge how tough or easy ranking in your market will be, and what it will take to surpass these listings.
Are there many strong established brands, or do you see mostly weak listings at the top? Do they have many reviews? What is their average rating? Do they have 1-star reviews and what do they say? Do they have many photos? Do they have a website? As you need to stand out in that crowd, study the landscape within Google Maps, so you can define your marketing strategy accordingly.
2/ Add nice photos
As the old adage says, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. In our modern Instagram age, people are used to seeing images everywhere on the Web, and a listing without nice photos does not stand a chance. First, you need photos, and any listing without then will be ignored for the most part.
But not any photo. You require a variety of images. Photos showing your brand and product and depending on your niche, you can use pictures of your office, your employees or the work you do. Such pictures need to look professional so that you build trust with your potential new customers.
You also need to have photos from your customers, which they have posted themselves within their review, and we discuss more to that in the next paragraph.
3/ Get customer reviews
It is crucial to develop a mechanism to get a regular flow of fresh customer reviews to your listings, including some with images taken by your clients. This will achieve a number of purposes.
First, the higher your review count is, the more trust you will build with your visitors. Imagine a listing with 1, 10, 100 or 1000 reviews. Which one would you trust more?
But reviews achieve more than just increasing the review count. From an SEO standpoint, reviews from varied customers will add content to your listing, and such content is perfectly on-topic. This is a free content, and it cannot be more perfect as far as on-page optimization goes than the one generated by your customers, even more so with the rise of AI that can comprehend topicality.
Last but not least, a regular flow of recent reviews will add freshness to your listing, another signal that Google likes to see.
4/ Engage with your customers
One more feature that Google likes to observe is engagement. This is a general SEO concept that applies to any online platform, not just googles maps. In maps, there are different ways to engage.
First, you can answer customer reviews, especially negative ones. This will show that you care, and it will help negate the effect of those negative reviews, as visitors can see what you have to say about the particular issue raised in a bad review.
Second, you can make so-called posts, which are like promotional or news content pieces, similar to a blog post, but short-lived. Use posts to your advantage depending on your business, you can have seasonal announcements or herald a new product launch, among other things.
5/ Rank your website
Your website is directly related to your google my business listing. Your Google my business listing has a field for the URL of your website, and you must make sure your site is in it. On the other hand, you can also link your map listing URL from your website via an embedded map. This way, both of your online properties are interlinked, reinforcing your brand’s authority in the process.
In our experience, organic rankings have a direct influence on map rankings. So the more you work on your website, the more you make it rank well in Google organic search results, then the more this will help your Google Maps rankings. Both go hand in hand.
Google Maps are there for the taking. As this is still a novel online platform for most users, and Google is still building this channel, opportunities abound. If you are a business owner, a consultant, or an SEO agency, make sure you understand Google Maps well. This should be a weapon in your marketing arsenal if you want to succeed in online marketing in 2020 and beyond.