With all the cool apps that Google puts out each year, everyone is bound to have a few in their list of favourites. For me, Google Maps tops that list. Of course, there are tough contenders for that spot. Especially these days when Google’s apps are backed by their extraordinary machine learning expertise. Still, nothing beats the results that Maps offers thanks to the countless hours spent by Google on refining and improving it.
Imagine what we all would do if we didn’t have Google’s omnipresent GPS data to guide us. Probably drive off route for hours because the huge folding paper map showed a road which clearly turned out to lead to a cliff edge. Hands down, Maps is the best tool Google has given to the world. It can even tell you how to avoid paying tolls, remember where you parked, check out ski runs and much more. For the people who get lost easily, stop it, use a map: Google Maps.
Despite my obvious admiration for Maps, it is not just a tool that is a substitute for primitive atlases or paper maps. In fact, Google Maps has become one of the mightiest marketing tools for business. A lot of you might be wondering, Wait what? How?
. Yes, it is true and it is called Google Maps Marketing. This guide goes in detail through the whats and hows of Google Maps Marketing. For marketers new to the concept, you’ll get to find out all the tips and tricks related to Google Maps marketing while seasoned marketing specialists might also learn a thing or two. Let’s start off with the basic question :
What Is Google Maps Marketing?
For a layman, Google Maps Marketing means making your business easier to find when someone searches for you or businesses similar to yours. In a broader sense, Google Maps Marketing involves the understanding of proximity-based Maps results, local SEO marketing, optimizing Google My Business listings and so on, to rank a business higher than its competitors in a geographical area. As with every other marketing strategy, the aim of Google Maps Marketing is to bring more customers to your business.
While it can work wonders for large businesses, it is almost indispensable for smaller businesses. And, it’s not just about visibility. If you are careful and precise, then it can become an integral part of your digital marketing strategy.
Why Market On Google Maps?
This is an easy question to answer. It is estimated that Google processes nearly 70,000 search queries every second. That adds up to 2 trillion searches per year.
There are more than 1 billion active monthly users of Google Maps with more than half of them being mobile users.
Here is something equally astounding, 76% of the people that search for a local business on Maps, end up visiting their store or website.
To top it all off, when the correct procedures for Google Maps Marketing are adhered to, Google pushes your businesses to thousands of potential customers through Google Maps. On the flip side, your chance of being found is exponentially lower if you haven’t employed Google Maps Marketing or have a weak strategy.
Conclusively, it is absolutely essential to market your business on Google Maps.
Ranking On Google Maps
If you are familiar with SEO, ranking in Google Maps refers to your position in the Google Maps results page. As already discussed the highest rank on Google Maps is the ultimate goal for a business exploring Google Maps Marketing.
There are two types of search results where your business can rank. Here is a brief introduction to both.
Proximity-based Search Results
Proximity-based search results show up when a user searches for a specific type of business on Google Maps. Naturally, these results identify businesses that are closer to you or hold prominence due to a variety of ranking factors
, more on that later.
These searches are more common on mobile phones with location data enabled for efficient proximity-based results. Here is a screenshot of what this looks like.
You may also have noticed that while typing your search, Google Suggest prompts you with the search term ‘near me’ at the end of your specified search. Here is a screenshot of the suggestion and the search results that are obtained after accepting the suggestion.
To an imaginative person, it would seem like Google is almost pushing nearby businesses. On the other hand, it also shows the importance of getting ranked in proximity search results.
Ranked Locational Search Results
If you are like me, you might not always have location data enabled or you might want to find a business by a location in some other part of the world. Let’s suppose you were searching for the best steak joints in New York City. Here are the results you will get.
Notice how certain businesses will be ranked better than the others despite proximity not being the prime variable. These are what I call ranked locational Google Maps results and the factors that determine this ranking form the basis of ‘marketing’ in Google Maps Marketing.
So, you might be wondering what variables determine Google Maps to rank one business higher than the other in proximity-based or locational based results. Well, the answer lies primarily in the optimisation of your Google My Business listing and a few other criteria.
Google My Business
Google My Business, formerly known as Google Places is a free online tool that lets you create a business listing that appears in Google search results. Creating this list serves two purposes. Firstly, it lets Google know that your business exists. Secondly, it enables searchers to find the information they are looking for like business addresses, operating hours, and customer rating and reviews.
For local business owners, a Google My Business listing will play a crucial part in driving customers through your doors. Listing your business in Google My Business is essential if you want customers to find you online. Below are some of the ways that customers will be able to find you.
Google My Business Panel
The Google Maps Pack
The Generic Google Maps Results
Creation And Optimisation Of Google My Business Listing
This section will cover a step-by-step guide on how to create a Google My Business Listing and optimise it from the start so that customers can easily find you when they search for your services or products. So, let’s jump right into it.
Step #1: Create A Google Account
This step is super quick and it is free. If you already have a Google account, just log in. If you don’t have a Google account, you are going to need to create one to manage your listing. For that, go to Google.com and click on the ‘Sign In’ button on the top right-hand side. Then click on the ‘Create Account’ link. In the drop-down, choose the ‘To manage my business’ option.
Now you will be required to enter your personal details. You can opt to create a completely new email address for your business or if you already have an address, you can use that. To use an existing email address, click on ‘Use my current email address instead’ and paste in the address. I suggest you use this option to avoid the hassle of having multiple email addresses. Finally, create a password and click ‘Next’.
Now you will be required to verify your email address to move forward. Then, you will be required to add some more personal information like your phone number, date of birth and gender. After filling this information click on ‘Next’. On the new page, click on the check boxes at the bottom of the page to agree to Google’s Terms and Conditions and then click on ‘Confirm’ and you are done.
Step #2: Check If Your Business Already Exists On Google
Even if you haven’t created a Google My Business listing, there is a possibility that your business already exists in Google. This is highly possible if you have been operating for many years. It is important to check if this is the case, otherwise, there is a risk that you might end up with two listings for the same business which could be problematic later on. The easiest way to do this is go to Google and search for the following combinations:
- Your business name and your location, as can be seen below
- Your business address
- Your business phone number
Try these combinations in both Google search and Google Maps. After searching these combinations, there are three scenarios that you will be faced with.
1. No Listing
This is the ideal scenario where no results come up for your business i.e. your listing has not been created yet and you can safely create the listing.
2. Listing Unclaimed
Your business is already listed, but is unclaimed as shown in the image below. You can tell if the business is unclaimed if you see a link that says ‘Own this business?’ under its details. You can claim this business easily by clicking on this link and following the same procedure that is used for creating a new listing, which we will cover in step #3.
3. Listing Already Claimed
Your business has already been claimed, let’s say by a former employee. In this case, try reaching out to them and ask them to transfer the ownership of that listing to you. If that fails, you can go through the Google My Business ownership request as described on this page.
Step #3: Create Your Listing
Now it’s time to create your listing. If your business is not already listed on Google, go over to this link and click on the blue button ‘Manage now’. Click on ‘Add your business to Google’ and follow the steps as described in the following chart. For more information, contact our Local SEO agency.
Step #4: Optimise Your Listing
While you are waiting for your postcard verification to turn up, I strongly suggest you optimise your listing to hit the ground running as soon as your listing is published on Google. Here is how you can do that.
Sign in to your Google My Business account using this link. On the dashboard, click the ‘Info’ option on the left-hand side menu. Here you will get a recap of the information you added while creating your listing. You can modify any section by clicking on the pencil icon next to an option. Now follow this checklist.
- Make sure you are using the correct name for your business without any additional information like keywords, business location etc.
- Make sure your primary category is correct. Use additional secondary categories that you think are relevant to your business.
- If you deliver to customers, make sure you have added your service areas.
- Add your business hours and don’t forget to add what Google calls ‘Special Hours’ which cover holidays or days where your operating hours might change.
- If you haven’t added a website, add one now. If your business relies on appointments, make sure to add the link to your contacts page or your calendar.
- In the services option, describe what services you offer in detail up to 1000 characters. This option will only display in Google Maps app.
- If you offer things like wheelchair access, restroom etc, be sure to select them in the attributes section.
- Make sure to add a business description of up to 750 characters. Don’t use this space to add a lot of keywords, links or hashtags as it will not help you rank. Instead, use this space to tell people about your business and why they should consider visiting you.
- Add the date your business opened.
- A picture is worth a thousand words and that is so true for your Google My Business listing. Bring your listing to life by adding photos consisting of your logo, the interior and exterior design and your team members. I also recommend that you add relevant videos to your listing.
After following this checklist, your profile will be 100% complete. Now all that remains is the postcard verification. Congratulations, your business listing is complete and optimised.
Some Additional Tips For An Efficient Business Listing
Have The Right Business Name
Make sure that your business name is a true representation of how your business is seen in the real world. Many local businesses add keywords to their business names to rank higher in Google Maps. This does not work.
As an example, if your business name is Pam’s beauty salon and you are located in Nottingham, then you should add ‘Pam’s beauty salon’ in the listing rather than ‘Pam’s beauty salon Nottingham’. Google’s guidelines also prohibit including unnecessary information which could result in your listing getting suspended.
Optimise Your Business Address
A correct business address is necessary for ranking on Google Maps. Many businesses do this wrongly. Make sure that your business address is the one used by your local postal service.
This includes the room, floor, office number or anything that makes your business easier to find. Be sure to correct errors in formatting or extra spaces as these will interfere with your ranking.
Specify Service Areas
While selecting your service areas, be sure to specify each area as fully and as clearly as you can. Specify nearby cities or towns that you serve. Also include geographic radius.
Optimise Your Business Categories
Selecting the right primary category for your business is a really crucial step. Google Business categories are very important ranking factors when it comes to showing your business in Google search results. It tells Google exactly what your business is about and it will be visible on your listing.
There are many categories to choose from and picking the wrong one will be detrimental to the traffic yousite will get in Google search results. So, choose wisely.
Get A Free Website
If you don’t have a business website, Google also gives you the ability to create a free business onebased on your information which you can access and modify through Google My Business later on.
Complete Your Business Profile
From the dashboard, you can see how complete your profile is. The more complete your profile, the easier it will be for searchers to find you. A completed profile also ranks higher than a half-completed profile.
What Can Advertising Do For You?
In addition to creating an optimised business listing, Google also gives you the ability to run local search ads.
This paid service can help you appear at the top of Google search page whenever someone searches for a service that is relevant to yours.
For businesses that can’t wait for organic traffic to come in, local search ads are a fast way to bring in customers. If you need help with running these ads, try our Local SEO agency.
Many businesses have found success through efficient local search ads on Google; they complement organic ranking efforts.
How To Track Your Google Maps Marketing Performance
You can always track how well you are doing on Google Maps by taking a look at the analytics offered by your Google My Business account. Following are the metrics that you should pay close attention to or optimise for better performance.
- Pay close attention to the type of searches that direct customers to your website. This will give you information on how users are finding your business i.e either via your business name or keywords relevant to your brand, services or location.
- It is also important to know where customers view your business on Google. Is it through general search or map listings? Focusing on getting traction for one of these two will help with better customer response.
- The ‘customer actions’ graph will show you what actions customers take when they come across your business listing i.e., visit your website, call your number or message you. For successful business performance, do work on customer engagements and interactions.
- You will also get to know how well your photos and videos are doing, see how many times they have been viewed compared to your competitors.
Google Maps marketing is a continuous process. You can just create a listing and forget about it. If you do that, you will start receiving negative reviews within a couple of months.
If you keep your information up to date, your reviews will be positive
And do remain patient while the Google genies weave their magic on your behalf. If you are looking for help with your Local SEO, contact our team of experts.