Google Maps for Marketing: What Local Business Owners Need to Know

Natasha Lane

Natasha LaneContent Creator for DesignRush

Thursday, November 28, 2019

As a user of digital technologies, you’re probably more dependent on Google Maps than you realize. But how often do you think of it as a marketing tool?

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If I told you that 46% of Google searches are local ones, you might be interested to know that local search is Google Maps marketing.

Here’s another stat for you: according to this post on Smash Digital 50% of local smartphone searches lead to a store visit in less than a day.

What is Google My Business?

The best way to get featured on Google Maps is to create and optimize a Google My Business profile.

If you already have one, you need to claim it as your own and optimize it further. If not, creating one from scratch is the way to go.

You may also already be featured on Google Maps – in which case you need to do the same thing: claim and optimize.

Your GMB listing will feature information such as your business address, telephone number, opening hours, and customer reviews and ratings.

How to optimize your GMB listing

The objective of Google Maps marketing is to rank higher in local business SERPs. If you just claim your business and add some very basic info, you won’t be getting very far.

Here’s 5 things you need to be doing:

1. Use a USPS-approved address

When adding your address to the Google My Business profile, make sure it’s the same as what the USPS, or your local postal service, has on file. This means adding store numbers, flat numbers, floor numbers, and your exact zip code.

Make sure the address is formatted correctly, and that there are no superfluous digits and spaces; these smallest of things can have a significant impact on the way people find you.

The more data you provide at this point, the easier it’ll be for Google to find you and present you when people are looking for your services near them.

2. Fill out as much information as you can

Google My Business will ask for a variety of other business details so make sure you supply it with as much info as you can, including:

  • Your business hours and workdays
  • Your business website (its correct and full URL)
  • What sorts of products or services you offer

If you make any changes to any of these, make sure you instantly update your GMB listing. If you’re closed for the holidays or for any other reason, make sure you add that in as well.

Adding real-life, reliable, and accurate images to your account will also make a huge difference, helping you to not only rank better, but also help customers understand what kind of business you are.

3. Verify your account

Once all your info is in there, Google will ask you to verify your account. This can be done by phone or email, and you can choose a preferred way for them to contact you.

Once that’s done, you’re all set. You can publish your listing, and it will start appearing in search results – that is, if you’re ranking well enough to do so.

4. Build and manage directory listings

Now that you have your GMB listing, you can start getting listed in relevant directories.

This is important because it will help you rank better, as Google takes these directories into account when evaluating your website.

Make sure you choose these directories carefully: they should look reputable and be relevant to your area and line of business. You can start small and more targeted and build your way up to more general directories as you go along.

5. Encourage Google reviews

People who have done business with you will sometimes want to leave reviews of their experience. The more positive reviews you get, the higher you’ll rank.

Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and make sure you take the time to reply to all reviews (both positive and negative), leave your thanks, and answer questions.

Don’t panic if you get a few negative reviews; you can’t cater to everyone. As long as you handle the comments with respect and try to help the customer, it won’t do any harm to your rankings or potential business.

Final thoughts

Keep in mind that nothing in SEO is set-and-forget – and naturally, the same goes for local SEO. Don’t neglect to make relevant updates to your GMB listing as soon as possible, and always keep an eye out to ensure that the information across directories is accurate. Check if some updates have already been made for you and that the info is correct there as well, and stay on top of your reviews at all times – in today’s customer-centric market, it definitely pays off.

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