How to Rank Better on Google Maps
Posted by Nikki Wardle on Jun 7, 2019 10:55:00 AM
Way back in the ’80s, if you wanted to go check out a new restaurant or hair salon, you had to pull out the phone book and look up the business’ address. If you were lucky, you knew the general area where the business was. If not, you had to get out a map or call and get street by street directions to write down. Then, of course, if the business was closed for renovations or due to a holiday, there was no way you would know until you drove up to the location. I lived it, and yes, it was rough.
Thankfully, now I can ask Siri (or Alexa or Google) where the closest burger restaurant is, check out who is around me and who is open. I can even get Siri to give me turn by turn instruction in my car to get me there. It’s all so convenient.
But what about that incredible burger joint I pass by because it wasn’t listed as one of my options to choose from? That restaurant just lost an opportunity to get a new, loyal customer. Now imagine if that same scenario happens 10 or more times a day. OUCH! That is a lot of lost business.
Local Competition Matters
As portrayed in the example above, getting the leg up on the local competition is no easy matter. That’s not a news flash. Getting listed as one of the first few results is critical. Consumers aren’t likely to look at results on the second page, especially not in Google Maps. We’ve stated this before: the best place to hide a dead body is the second page of Google search results.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's answer a few basic questions.
What is Google Maps?
Google Maps is one of the amazing free tools in Google's suite of apps that gives locations of products or services around you. They provide satellite, aerial, and street views of the area you are interested in, and it also gives you directions. There is usually more than one route option to choose from and an estimated commute time.
You can see why it is so important to be one of the first few results to pop up on potential customers' search results, especially if that potential customer is using their phone.
How to Claim Your Location on Google Maps
Your Google Maps locations are controlled from your Google My Business account and is relatively easy to set up.
First, you need to have a Google account. You can either set up a Gmail account or set up a Google account using your existing (non-Google) email address. Once you have logged into your Google My Business (GMB) account, you can now claim your location by following these instructions. Google provides detailed support documentation on how to claim your location
While you wait for the verification code to arrive in the mail (yes, snail mail), get a jump on adding all the necessary information:
- Phone number (local numbers work best)
- Website address
- Business description
- Business categories
- Product or service images
- If your business delivers, including the delivery area
There are also additional fields to populate, if they make sense for your business. The more information you provide, the better your chance of Google listing you on a result when your potential customers are near.
Google also provides the code to add a visual map location right on your website. It is clickable and will make it easier for your customers to get directions to your location right from your website.
Keep Updating Your Google My Business
Setting up your GMB/Maps location is not a set-it-and-forget-it task. You need to continually update your location with:
- Holiday business hours
- New products or services
- New location announcements
- Interior and Exterior Images
These are all things that are easily and quickly communicated through your Google Maps location to customers and potential customers.
An average review rating for each location is also displayed as part of the maps search results, so make sure you are getting reviews! Be strategic and non-spammy when asking for reviews. After all, you want the good ones!
Respond to ALL reviews, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Consumers are pretty savvy; they understand that people can have a bad experience at an otherwise fantastic business. When a potential customer reads a 1 or 2-star review and sees that the company commented back to resolve the issue, it’s at least a partial win for that business.
And don't skimp on the details in your responses. Google uses all this content as more context about what you do. If someone leaves a great review for your mountain bike rental company, respond that you are happy the reviewer was able to explore the foothills on a mountain bike and enjoy the views of your city.
Google My Business Posts
Since the slow and quiet death of Google+, GMB now offers posting capabilities so that you can create posts for events, special offers, and general announcements. It’s an additional free promotion tool for your website and your business. I recommend you post at least once a week with useful articles, blog posts, or featured products or services you want to spotlight.
Google Maps and Google My Business are amazing tools to get in front of your customers with the information they are looking for. Getting found on Google Maps is not a passive luck of the draw, but instead requires effort to make sure Google has all the right information about you to put you in the top search results.
Written by Nikki Wardle
Nikki has a degree in Marketing from Boise State University and has been an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Tribute Media since 2014.