Think of the last time you wanted to find a restaurant for dinner. Did your search start on Google Maps? If so, you're not alone. According to Google, "Near Me" searches have grown by 50 percent since the beginning of 2018.
Businesses need to appear on Google Maps, or they risk losing out on customers. This article will show you how to improve your Google Maps marketing strategy.
What Is Google Maps Marketing?
Google Maps marketing is a form of marketing optimized for Google Maps, a convenient GPS app developed by Google. It combines several marketing tactics, including SEO and online reputation management.
There are two common ways to use Google Maps.
- In the past, most users typed in a specific address or business to find directions to a destination.
- Today, it's more common to type in a keyword like "dog walkers." Google Maps will pinpoint your location and suggest the closest dog walkers to you. You can tap on highlighted businesses to learn more about each business.
This means Google Maps is a crucial tool for local businesses that want to attract customers. As more searches begin on mobile devices or Google Maps app itself, local businesses need to be present.
After getting listed, businesses can add details and photos to their profiles. They can also view and manage Google reviews, which appear on Google Maps along with a star rating.
By using Google Maps marketing, you can make a good impression where it counts most.
Google Maps Marketing: How Do I Get on Maps?
Google makes it easy to manage how your business appears on Maps. There are four simple steps for getting started:
- Create or claim your Google My Business account
- Verify your business
- Enter or update your information
- Check and manage your Google Reviews
The first step to mastering Google Maps marketing is signing up for a Google My Business (GMB) account. This account is a portal that lets you view and update the information that shows up on Google Maps. If someone has already submitted your business to Google Maps, you can claim your listing.
Next, Google will verify your identity. You will have several options for verification, including mail, phone, and email. If you already have Google Search Console, you can select instant verification.
The third step is updating your business' information on GMB. Users want to see essentials such as your address, hours, phone number, and website. A compelling description that includes your unique selling point(s) can also help attract attention. Users also like to see details like ADA accessibility or whether you offer wifi.
At this stage, you should also upload images of your business. Photos are a crucial part of Google Maps. In fact, they drive 42 percent more requests for driving directions and 35 percent more website clicks. Upload a street-view picture of your location, plus images of your most popular products.
The final step is managing your Google Reviews. Every Google Maps listing automatically displays reviews and a star rating. This social proof can help or hurt your business. After all, users will compare your rating and reviews to similar competitors nearby.
Your GMB account allows you to view all the Google Reviews you receive. Every business will get a few negative reviews, but there are ways to turn these to your advantage. To improve your profile, invite frequent customers to review your business on Google.
If you have any questions about GMB, be sure to check out Google's Help Center for tips and answers to frequently asked questions.
Tips for Succeeding at Google Maps Marketing
After you master the basics, you can take your Google Maps marketing to the next level. Optimizing your listing can bump your business up in search results. It can also earn more attention from potential customers, who look for businesses with highly engaged listings.
Earning online reviews from Google's Local Guides may give your business an edge. These verified reviewers write Google reviews that tend to be much longer and much more detailed. Businesses that earn a review from a Local Guide are more likely to achieve a high ranking in search results.
While there is no way to solicit a Local Guide review, the number of Local Guides is growing. (Between 2016 and 2017, the number of Local Guides increased tenfold!) Focus on providing consistent quality, and you'll be ready when one visits your business.
Earning a spot in a Local 3 Pack can also help your business stand out. The Local 3 Pack is the block of three business profiles at the top of Google's first page of search results. This trio of results earns almost half of the page's total clicks.
Businesses that earn a spot in the Local 3 Pack have thoroughly optimized their Google Maps listings. They have detailed information, eye-catching images, and lots of positive reviews.
In addition to these tips, you can improve your Google Maps SEO through other simple tactics. For example, if your business has multiple locations, you'll need separate Google Maps listings for each location. These listings should each link back to a location-specific page on your website.
With time, you can refine your Google Maps profile until it's as specific as possible. Google tends to group businesses as generically as possible, so choosing a narrower category can help you stand out. Similarly, location- and business-specific keywords can drive more search traffic your way.
These tips can help you take the first steps on your Google Maps marketing journey–but there are plenty of other tactics you should experiment with. Download GoSite's free eGuide to learn 5 steps for getting started with local search for additional ideas and insights.