Staying on track with best and latest SEO practices is one of the most important digital marketing ‘burdens’. Keyword stuffing is obsolete. Link-building – pretty much out the window, too.
And all those SEO tools and cheats that used to get attention in the past have proven to be worthless now. In the long run, they could do more harm than good.
Ready to set your watch, right? Focus your marketing strategy on two key things: relevancy and quality.
Fortunately, you can do a lot to conquer both of these (seemingly abstract) grounds with one of Google’s most useful tools: Google Maps. And this guide will escort you through the why and how’s.
New Landscape Burst upon us
With the rise of mobile use for online searches, localization plays a progressively more essential role. You no longer have to compete with everyone who has a website in order to rank higher in search results. And you can do a lot to attract and accommodate mobile users.
Simply put, the Google Maps tool makes it easier for your store to be found. But that’s not all. The Maps give an even better chance for small and medium businesses to rank higher in search results.
The bad news: if your entire marketing strategy is focused on leads towards your website, you are missing out. Especially so, if your business has a store (or an office).
Some Useful Statistics
The tech-revolution during the last years has made a huge impact on online marketing. According to a study by BIA/Kelsey, mobile local ad spending will outdo mobile national ad spending in the U.S. by 54 percent by 2016.
GetListed’s online use analysis shows that:
- 50% of mobile and 20% of desktop queries have local intent;
- 5% of online searches include city or state name and 0.5% use zip codes.
And, here are some worthwhile findings of a Google smartphone use study:
- 79% of smartphone users shop via their phones – comparing prices, product info, as well as locating a store;
- 88% of those shoppers take action within a day;
- 59% of those searches lead to visiting the local business.
All trend analyzes and statistics above make one thing crystal clear: adapting your online marketing strategy on a local level has a higher chance of reaching and attracting new customers.
Thanks to Google Suggest, online search results give priority to user’s site. Even if location data is disabled on a certain device, the Google Maps listings often rank higher than the organic ones, prompting shoppers to click.
And, thanks to Google My Business, you can take advantage of that and immensely improve your online position and visibility.
Google Maps Marketing in 3 Steps
Higher rank in local searches comes down to the two key elements mentioned above: relevancy and quality. Proximity and convenience are, of course, crucial. But there are more factors that could help you stand out on Google Maps that you have control of, like business profile optimization and user reviews.
#1 Set Up Your ‘Google My Business’ Account
Google My Business is essentially a single dashboard, allowing you to connect all your business info shown in search results. That is why, when setting up your business profile, the more data you offer, the better.
A. Claim your address
Provide as many details as you can for your business address, including full zip-code, floor, room, etc. to make it easy to find.
Make sure the same address is registered everywhere else online and it is written exactly as it is on your website. It may sound trivial, but even formatting differences may interfere with your ranking later.
If you don’t have a physical space to meet customers, you can hide your address later. But, in order to verify your business ownership, you still have to provide correct contact information.
B. Define your business category
Listing a broad business category only equals a missed optimization opportunity. Narrow down as many relevant categories as you can.
C. Business radius
If your business serves a wider area – via a delivery service, for example – it is important to define it. You can add multiple areas to your business account and each one of them will get a separate Google+ page.
D. Get verified
The verification process of your Google My Business listing can take a while. Sometimes you can do that by phone, but you will most likely have to wait for a unique PIN posted to the physical address listed in your profile
#2 Optimize Your Listing
Once your business info is verified, it is time to stand out. You can improve and update your contact information, business description, open hours, etc. as often as you like. And here are a few things to pay special attention to:
A. Open hours
Google displays open hours in the search results, so take advantage of that.
B. Business description
Your business account introduction is a summary describing your products and services. Many underestimate the value of this description and miss out on even more leads from organic search results.
C. Enhance your profile with images and/or videos
Don’t forget that Google Maps is a visual platform. High-quality images will certainly make your listing stand out. You can optimize them even more by adding relevant metadata such as location and keywords. (Read here more on visual content to drive your marketing)
D. Double check everything
Make sure there are no duplicate listings for your business on Google. Deal with those on time to avoid ranking penalties.
#3 Get Reviews
When making shopping decision, most people rely on social proof. That is why generating positive reviews are crucial.
It is important to know that you need at least five reviews before Google displays them alongside your listing. Here are a few things you can do to encourage your customers to write reviews:
- Ask them upon successful service/product delivery;
- Make it easy for them by providing simple directions and scoring;
- Offer an incentive in form of a discount or even a gift;
- Interact with your customers and respond appropriately to every given feedback;
- If you are given a negative review, make sure to investigate the situation and work to resolve it.
Just like any other digital marketing method, Google Maps is not a magic wand that will make your sales jump over the roof overnight. It takes a while before you see any results.
Nevertheless, it is a tool that is worthwhile using. And even more so when localization can be used as such a great advantage.