Google Maps listings are essential for local businesses. Having a visible and correct listing can make or break your potential for foot traffic. Ensuring you’ve covered all your bases on your Google My Business (GMB) profile will help listings gain traction in map search. We will review best practices straight from Google and some of our tips, helping your business’s Maps visibility.
How Does Google Determine Local Ranking?
Relevance is how closely your local listing matches what users are searching for. This is the main reason it’s important to have the same Name, Address, & Phone Number (NAP) across all your business profiles, from your GMB page to Facebook to your website.
Users often misspell or shorten your business name or search general local terms. Having a consistent naming convention across platforms enforces your business entity so Google can correlate users’ searches with your business, even if they accidentally misspell the name.
Giving users and Google conflicting information on different sites hinders user experience and makes it harder for Google to understand your business.
How to Make Sure Your NAP is Consistent
If you’re doing a NAP audit manually and feel overwhelmed the good news is: just update your NAP on the most reputable sites first. This includes sites like:
- Social Media Platforms (Facebook, FourSquare, etc.)
- Google My Business (GMB)
- Bing Places
- YP (Yellow Pages)
- Industry Specific Directories
Use Moz’s Local Directory to find the most popular directories in your area and focus on those. If you don’t have a listing, create one!
Pro Tip: Fill out your GMB in its entirety. Add descriptions, pictures, etc. The more complete your profile, the more likely users will recognize your business as the one they are looking for. Your operating hours are one of the most important details outside your NAP so make sure they’re accurate. You can even add special operating hours for holidays.
This seems like an obvious aspect of local search, but your NAP also affects how Google understands your location and therefore your distance from users. If you don’t specify an address, Google tries to understand your location based on the available info it has on your business. This could go very right or very wrong. Don’t leave it up to Google to determine your location.
This factor is how popular your business is in an offline and online world. Prominence includes things like reviews, articles, ratings, and even your web results (so practice good SEO). Prominence affects your local rankings the most so doing everything you can to boost this signal is important.
Tips for Boosting Your Brand’s Prominence
Actively push for reviews. But responding to them is just as important.
Have a review system in place on each review platform. This includes Google Reviews, Facebook, and Yelp. If you receive a negative review, address it. Engaging with reviews makes your business look active and users are more inclined to visit a business they view as current.
Use schema to markup your local content.
Schema is a piece of code that is added directly to the HTML of your site. Use schema to delineate your business name, address, phone number, etc. to crawlers. Schema has an expansive library so there are many options to describe your site content. Adding schema to your local information helps Google parse your business info.
Post on Social. The more local the better.
Search Engine Land revealed that a local business without an active Facebook account performed worse in local search compared to those that had an active Facebook profile, but for new businesses that had active Facebook accounts posting wasn’t enough to outrank established businesses. As your business grows, you won’t have to rely on social to establish your online presence, but for new business social media is an opportunity to reach audiences for free. Write content centered on your locality and share to social.
Use PR to build brand recognition in Search.
According to Google, your general web presence has an effect on your local maps rankings. Try using PR events or create brand buzz to enhance your brand search terms. Host an event and promote it via social. Research what your competitors have done for ideas. The more popular your brand name becomes the more users will seek out your brand in organic search, enhancing probability of higher Google Maps listings.