Local SEO Tips: How to Achieve a Higher Google Maps Listing
Increasing traffic to your local business can be a challenge. PPC can be expensive and SEO takes time before you can reach the top -- it's definitely a long-term play.
But, there is a way to get a piece of the local organic traffic if you are able to reach the top of the Google Map results.
Search engine optimization and Google has evolved over the years -- making the "local map pack" a highly desirable -- as it can be a lucrative traffic source.
Local SEO has shifted recently, with the main focus on the map, as it's often what searches with local-intent will display, above the traditional results -- especially if it's a search via mobile voice search.
Here are several tips that can help you improve your local listing -- and occupy the most coveted real estate when it comes to local SEO -- the top of Google map results.
Directories and reviews are the one-two combo punch.
"It requires a combined effort of tactics. I'd have to say the number one tactic we use is to list the company address and additional info into on as many powerful local directory platforms as possible. The company's information has to be accurate across all listings for this method to be very effective.
The number two tactic is reviews, reviews and more reviews. The more reviews you have the better chance you will rank at the top of the local map listings.
Anyone can easily create a listing on these local directories -- it's just a matter of doing it. There are plenty of services that will help streamline the creation of these profiles on the directory websites. Moz Local is a decent option for this. We use Ahrefs to find backlinks on our competitor's websites that have high Domain Quality scores. Then we also use BrightLocal to help create listings on local directories so we can better manage our listings and have them created quickly.
To get reviews, we'll email our clients links to review sites where we want them to review us on. If we have a hard time getting the client to write a review, we'll offer either a gift card or we'll write up a review and send it over to them to post. I know that might sound bad, but we typically write the review on successes that we had with the client and try to keep it as real as we can. The client will review and make changes if they see fit or just post on the platforms we suggest. All I can say is that it works." -- Troy Cartmill, Reap and Sow Marketing
Audit your Google My Business account.
"Auditing your Google My Business account is key to pushing your business up in the local map results. It's an incredibly important, if not the most important, local ranking factor.
Ensure all of your business data is accurate on your Google My Business account and then post on Google My Business once a week with promotional content. Many businesses aren't taking advantage of this feature that Google is offering and it's super easy to do. From your GMB account, click on 'Create post,' select the type of post (What's New, Event, Offer, Product), add an image, write your text (only about 100 characters will be displayed), and add a call-to-action button. Posts stay live for 7 days." -- Nancy Deol, HeartBrain Marketing
"Make sure your Google My Business account is setup correctly with all the required data filled out accurately. Do no skip through any questions. Add as many photos as possible.
Make sure they are good quality images that you own. Don’t use stock photos, cheap cell phone pictures or photos you did no license or take yourself. Lastly, ask your best customers to leave reviews. The more reviews the better.
Following that, make sure you place the same exact mailing address listed on your GMB account onto your website, social media channels and directory listings. The address must be an exact match across the board.
To add or claim your Business Profile, follow these steps:
- Open Google My Business.
- In the top-right corner, click Sign in.
- Sign in to your Google Account, or create one if you don’t already use Google services.
- Enter the name of your business, and click Next.
- Enter your business location, then click Next.
- Choose if you want your business location to appear on Google Maps.
- If you serve customers at your business address:
- Enter your business address, then click Next.
- Note: If you also serve customers outside your business address, you'll have the option to list your service areas as well.
- If you don't serve customers at your business address:
- Enter your business address.
- At the bottom, click I deliver goods and services to my customers and then Next.
- List your service areas, then click Next.
- Use the search field to select a business category, then click Next.
- Enter a phone number or website URL for your business, then click Next.
- Note: You'll also have the option to create a free website based on your information.
- To complete sign-up and verify your connection to this business, click Finish.
- Select a verification option.
- To verify at another time, click More options and then Later. If you’re not authorized to manage the business, find the person in your organization who’s authorized and continue the process.
- Note: If you see a page that says “This listing has already been claimed,” click Request access and follow the directions to claim your business." -- Angelo Frisina, Sunlight Media
Constantly source additional reviews.
"Reviews are extremely important for Google Map rankings, but having fresh reviews on a somewhat consistent basis can accelerate a rankings boost for your business.
To make getting reviews much easier, we recommend the following:
- Enter your business name in Google's PlaceID Lookup tool
- Copy the "Place ID" that Google provides in the result
- Paste the ID at the end of this URL: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=[PASTE YOUR PLACE ID HERE]
- Go to https://bitly.com and paste in the URL above to get a shortened version.
- The shortened URL you now have should open directly to the "write a review" modal on Google. You can share this in your email signature, newsletter, or to current/past customers to drive past your competitors." -- Brandyn Morelli, Tilt Metrics
Make sure your NAP information (name, address, phone number) is consistent.
"In order to rank locally, businesses need to make sure that their NAP information (name, address, phone number) is correct and exactly the same across all of the places their business is found online.
For the biggest impact, brands should make sure that their NAP information is found on at least the 3 biggest local sites that send off the strongest local SEO signals. They are Google My Business, Bing for Business, and Yelp Business Listing. These show up at the top of the search engines and will have the biggest impact on local presence. Including a few photos and supplemental information will be helpful too. These sites will likely try to sell you ads too, but business listings are 100 percent free. Ads are optional." -- Marissa Ryan, VisualFizz
Focus on these three factors.
"There are a number of signals that impact search rank but our agency is focused on a couple of factors including; unique citation/link building, social activity & reviews signals. We start by submitting optimized business information to niche review focused sites, directories, GPS systems/maps, and social sites. We focus the rest of our efforts on the natural growth of reviews from existing and new customers. More reviews, more often, in more places, with relevant content and natural responses.
From our experience reviews have a 15 percent+ impact on search rank. When combined with social activity -- namely Facebook Recommendations and Google Reviews/GMB activity like driving directions, calls etc. -- the impact can be 20 percent or more. In combination with citation/link growth from high authority niche review sites that have optimized and consistent business listing information, the impact can be 35 percent or greater." -- Jeremy Lessaris, irevu
Suggesting an edit on listings that are in violation
"The best local SEO tip is likely going to get me in trouble with the SEO crowd who say 'snitches get stitches.' However, when it comes to Google spam/fake listings or keyword stuffing businesses that go against Google's terms of service -- all is fair in love and local listings. Suggesting an edit on listings that are in violation -- they don't exist, have titles that don't match the business -- can have nearly instant rankings boost for those businesses that are below them. Use this form for mass reporting for spammer's who have multiple listings.
Make sure you read the guidelines or you can get in trouble -- can't report as much (remember the boy who cried wolf). Here is the guideline link. A great tool for seeing local results is Local Falcon -- we're not affiliated with them but they have a very user friendly basic local search function.
This has a huge impact on local ranking by cleaning up the local search results for actual local businesses who play by the rules." -- Jason Eland, Eland Consulting
Attract and earn authoritative inbound links.
"My best SEO tip for small business owners looking to increase their local map results ranking is to get authoritative inbound links to their site from relevant and strong websites. This goes beyond the basics of simply filling out your Google My Business profile, and is a real difference maker. Link building is hard for you and your competitors, so doing this well will give you the edge. A 2018 survey from Moz found this was the main differentiator, according to local SEO experts.
The best way to achieve this is by reaching out to those willing to link to you. There are a hundred ways to do this, but you want to think about a positive exchange of value. They'll only link to you if it helps them out.
A few quick ideas: you can partner with related companies to get on their recommended businesses page, offer guest posts to sites to help them get traffic to their site, or help out at local events and get recognized on their site. Think creatively and you can build links." -- Joe Robison, Green Flag Digital
Don't try to game the system -- there are no shortcuts.
"The best tip that I can provide to a small business looking to get exposure on Google Maps is to not try anything deceiving. Every few months we are hired by a small business that thought it was a good idea to start creating multiple Google My Business locations in order to get additional map placements. When reviewing the client's activities and GMB accounts, it quickly becomes apparent they were utilizing a friend or family member's personal residence, which is just going to lead to confusion by potential customers, not to mention issues with Google.
There was even one situation many years ago that a tree service company utilized USPS locations as the physical address and somehow got listed on Google with that address for nearly a year before having all of their fake locations and even their real location pulled off." -- David Wurst, WebCitz, LLC