When marketing your brand online, local businesses have a variety of different channels to choose from. For a lot of small businesses, the majority of their potential customer base uses Google search to research and locate local businesses. According to a study by Search Engine Watch, 80% of searches targeting local businesses resulted in a conversion.
With such a large number of potential customers using Google search to find local businesses, companies need to find the best way to get in front of their consumers.
Google Maps Marketing and Why It’s Important
Google Maps marketing is the process in search engine optimization (SEO) where brands optimize their online presence specifically to rank in Google Maps. On average, Google handles nearly 3.5 billion searches a day and accounts for more than 85% of all mobile searches. Additionally, about 75% of local searches result in a store visit within the same day. With that many people using Google every day to find local businesses, optimizing for Google Maps can greatly impact the way Google views your business and how well it ranks.
When marketing for Google Maps, the best way to be seen for local searches is to rank in a SERP Feature called a “local 3-pack”. The local 3-pack is a grouping of the top 3 businesses relating to a local search and is the main target when optimizing your business for Google Maps. In the example below we searched “Sub shops Nashville”:
This SERP feature appears at the top of the results page and has the potential to drive tons of traffic to your site as well as your actual store. Having a spot in the local 3-pack can increase your business’s visibility exponentially in such a competitive online market.
Optimizing for Google Maps with Google My Business
The best way to get your foot in the door with the local 3-pack is to set up a Google My Business (GMB) account. With a GMB listing, companies can provide searchers with the location of the business, the hours of operation, reviews, photos, and a plethora of other important information on your business. Creating a GMB listing is completely free and the best way to manage your online presence in Google.
When Google decides how to rank results, it takes into account a variety of different factors. The main two however, are the geographic distance from the person searching and the business category most relevant to their search. Both of these can be specified in a GMB listing. On the other hand, the most important factor for ranking in the local 3-pack is the overall quality and accuracy of your GMB listing. This could be the tie-breaker between you and a competitor.
Are Reviews Important to My Google Maps Ranking?
In addition to a strong GMB listing, reviews are an important factor when Google decides to show you in the local 3-pack. The majority of consumers tend to read company reviews before they decide to take any action with a business. Since your GMB listing displays your business reviews, it is wise to address all the reviews you receive and reply to them whether good or bad.
Although Google itself doesn’t focus too much on reviews, your customers do. Addressing the reviews you receive allows your business the opportunity to showcase its professionalism and how well you treat consumers who use your business. If someone leaves you a bad review, replying to them and trying to resolve the problem can help with public sentiment and might even turn a bad review into a great one.
Optimization Checklist for Google Maps
To give your business a leg up in local search and the local 3-pack on Google Maps, just follow the list below.
– Create and fill out all information for Google My Business
– Accurately include the area of service and address, hours of operation, and website URL
– Pick relevant and common categories for your GMB listing
– Ensure all business information is consistent on website and GMB
– Add photos
– Interact with both good and bad reviews
– Post promotions, updates, and events in GMB
Following this list will greatly increase your opportunity to rank in Google Maps as well as gain more customers and ultimately more sales.
The Key Takeaway
The best way to increase organic rankings in Google Maps is to focus on your Google My Business listing and making sure it is appropriately filled out with all the necessary information. By investing the time in Google Maps marketing, you’ll be able to improve the number of leads, increase traffic, and increase conversions.