Google Maps Marketing 101: What to Know

What You Must Know About Google Maps Marketing

Your Google Maps listing is a critical marketing tool for your business. Not only is it an entirely free service, but it will also help you get discovered by new customers, generate more business and stand out from your competitors.

But why is Google My Business (GMB) so important anyway? For starters, Google Maps is the most popular navigation app, with 67% of consumers choosing it over other apps. This means that the majority of online searchers trust GMB when it comes to finding businesses online.

On that note, the average business receives more than 1,000 customer searches per month, with 84% of these coming from discovery searches (where a consumer looks for a search term related to your business and your listing appears). That's 1,000 qualified leads that are looking at your business listing! Not only that, but roughly 83% of businesses appear in discovery searches more than 25 times per month, and around 34% of businesses are seen in discovery searches more than 1,000 times per month.

Comparatively, around 79% of businesses receive more than 25 direct searches per month, while roughly 13% receive more than 1,000. This is where potential customers are inputting your business' name directly into Google, and it's likely that at this point they're already considering hiring your services or purchasing your products.

Essentially, without a Google My Business listing, you're putting your company at a serious disadvantage. As all savvy business owners know, the future of marketing and commerce has migrated to online—compared to traditional avenues. That's why it's more important than ever to ensure you're optimizing all available online resources—particularly Google My Business.

However, as many benefits as Google My Business offers, it only works if you know how to optimize your listing for the best results possible—or if you have an expert digital marketing agency handling your Google My Business listing on your behalf.

To that end, the experts at Digital Shift have put together this blog post. In it you'll find a guide to all things Google My Business—so that you're not left in the dark wondering how to make use of this fantastic online tool.

How Google Maps Works

Essentially, Google Maps works by matching your GMB listing to a local search query. There are a few different ways that the software pulls up search results. Both are designed to be most convenient and useful for a searcher—which is where Google Maps marketing comes in. GMB marketing is the process of preparing your listing so it stands out to Google as useful, authoritative and legitimate. These listings are more likely to draw customers, so they are what Google suggests during a search.

Proximity Based Search Results

How often have you typed in “coffee shop near me,” or, “gas station near me,” when looking for a service? Google knows your location, based on your smartphone's GPS. It will subsequently pull up results it knows are near your geographic location, and it does its best to pull up results that are inline with what you are looking for.

From a business owner's perspective, this is a huge benefit of mobile search for your business. Searchers in your area will be able to connect with your business due to their physical location. This type of search is becoming more and more common because it's incredibly convenient, and usually consumers don't like to go too out of their way to find a service. This is a benefit if you work in the home service industry, because you're likely catering to clients near your business location anyway.

Ranked Google Maps Results

The second way Google Maps pulls up results is by ranking them. This is for a few reasons. Not all consumers have their location turned on—particularly if they're using a laptop or tablet to search rather than their mobile device. Also, most consumers around the globe can look at GMB listings anywhere—even if they are not close to them. Lastly, even within one area there may be a number of similar services offered—especially if it's a competitive market—so organic ranked results help a consumer make an informed choice.

But how does Google rank different businesses?

Based on their reviews. The search engine takes into account both the positive and negative reviews your listing has, as well as the total number of reviews, and creates an average. This number in turn influences where a business appears on Google Maps.

Google Maps: Organic Search Results

There are a few ways to increase your organic search results with GMB. It's important to optimize your online efforts to rank organically with a comprehensive SEO strategy. Keep in mind that your goal should always be to wind up within the top three spots of your respective Local Map Pack. These are the results that will automatically appear on Google after a search is put in related to your business.

The Local Pack receives 32% of clicks on SERPs—without Local Services Ads. In other words, these results are obtained organically and you can't buy your way to the top. Continue reading to discover how you can maximize your GMB listing organically.

Verify Your Business

Permitting you've already created a Google My Business listing, the next step is to claim or “verify” that listing. But what's the difference? When you create your listing you can essentially only provide the name, location and category that your business belongs to. On the other hand, when you claim it you can provide many more details about your business. This is important because the more information you include about your business, the higher it will rank on Google Maps. Also, without verifying your listing you'll be unable to optimize it—which is the point of this guide.

To claim your listing, all you have to do is sign-in to your GMB account, pull up your listing and select the option to “Claim this Business.” It may also appear as, “Own this Business?”

Select All Relevant Business Categories and Attributes

Categories are what describes what type of business you operate and the services you provide. For instance, “plumbing company,” or “public library.” These are important search terms because they're often what consumers input into Google when seeking a service.

Google suggests that you choose a primary category that best describes your business. However, you should also choose additional categories to give potential customers a better idea as to what your business is all about. Ensure you select relevant services. For example, as a plumber you may add “drain cleaning.”

You can also select relevant attributes for your business, such as if you have outdoor seating or are wheelchair accessible. You should also add these to your business listing.

Keep Your Information Consistent

Google Maps ranks businesses it feels are trustworthy, so it's important that your business' info is the same across all your online platforms—and we mean exactly the same. This includes your business description, website, third-party listings and any social media platforms you have. For example, writing N.W. instead of Northwest when it comes to your address. These little details matter.

It's also critical to include all relevant information possible. For instance, you should include:

  • A USPS or postal service approved business address; it should be accurate and written as a postal service would list your address.
  • A local phone number with a local area code; 1-800 numbers don't look very trustworthy.
  • Updated hours of operation; ensure you stay on-top of any changes to your operating hours—especially during holidays.
  • A business description that gives potential customers a run-down of what services/products you offer.
  • Include what areas you serve; this helps Google know what areas to pull up your listing for and is also helpful for consumers in your service areas.

Maximize Your Introduction

Your GMB introduction is essentially a summary about your company, the products/services you offer and what makes you different from your competition. We've seen it time and time again where a company neglects to fill-out their business profiles on GMB—which is to miss out on an excellent opportunity for optimization.

In your local citation, be sure to include any pertinent information a consumer would need to know, including business details like links to relevant pages on your site, relevant keywords and keeping your tone on-brand.

Keep in mind to avoid the pitfalls of black-hat SEO tactics, such as keyword stuffing or including too many links. Google frowns on practices that are not geared towards the consumer.

Solicit Customer Reviews

Online reviews are crucial for your GMB listing's success online. Not only does your customer rating help the search engine decide where to rank your listing on Google Maps, but it's also a key marketing tool for encouraging leads. Most consumers trust online reviews as they would an in-person referral. Before hiring your services or venturing into your location, a customer is going to look at your online reviews first.

There is another reason why monitoring your online reviews is so incredibly important. It helps with brand reputation management. Perhaps you're one in a million and your company only has 5-star reviews. While you should be replying to each customer review anyway, where this step really shines is with negative reviews. By addressing negative comments and feedback, you're able to get the situation under control, demonstrate that you care about making your customers happy and possibly even flip an unhappy client into a happy customer. Customer engagements are key for encouraging prospective customers to choose your business over your competitors.

Include Optimized Photos

Like most things online, Google Maps is a primarily visual platform. Think about the companies you've seen on Google Maps that have stood out to you—did they include photos of their interior, or perhaps of their products? By including relevant photos, your listing will be inherently more appealing than just the picture of a map—which is the default.

Google Maps: Paid Advertisements

While organic search optimization should be a key aspect of your overall marketing strategy, there are a few other ways that you can boost your business' listing online: paid ads.

There are multiple types of paid ad campaigns that you can use on Google to reach customers and generate leads. However, not all of them populate on Google Maps. Before we dive into Local Search Ads on Google Maps, let's take a look at the range of ad campaigns you can invest in on Google:

  • Search Campaigns: Let you reach consumers while they are searching on Google.
  • Video Campaigns: Enable you to place video ads on YouTube.
  • Display Campaigns: Let you place ads on websites and apps across the internet.
  • App Campaigns: Enable you to find new app users and increase sales within your app.
  • Local Campaigns: Place ads on search results, Google Maps, YouTube and display campaigns to bring customers into your physical business location.
  • Smart Campaigns: Google takes care of handling your ads while maximizing your time and budget.
  • Shopping Campaigns: Ads to shop your products will appear in search results and on the Google Shopping tab.

Local Search Ads on Google Maps

A key aspect of Google Maps advertising, Local Search Ads (which can be part of an overall Local Ad Campaign) place your Google My Business directory on the top of a Google Maps search result page. For example, if you search “plumbers near me,” regardless of your company's ranking it will appear at the top of the Google Maps search results. Note that this does not work on the Google Maps Pack, only in the search results.

Because of their localized nature, Google Maps Ads are highly effective at reaching consumers who are more likely to visit your physical location. It also brings awareness to your business, in the event consumers didn't know that you existed. If your business is nearby and has a high rating, they are more likely to be interested in visiting your location or hiring your services compared to your competitors.

Utilize Online Directories

Your Google Map listing is by far the most important online listing your business will have. It shines above the competition because of its trustworthiness and accuracy. In fact, many consumers will cease vetting a business after they read its GMB listing—yet, there are other online directories out there that you should be optimizing as well. Ensure you fill out business listings on third-party websites such as:

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Yellow Pages
  • Appropriate Niche Directories: TripAdvisor, Angie's List etc.

Maximize Google Maps Marketing Today!

Without Google Maps and an optimized Google My Business listing, it's nearly impossible for businesses to stand out online and convert more searchers into paying customers. It's absolutely critical that you take the time to verify and enhance your listing so that it shines above your competition, encourages qualified leads and ultimately directs more customers to your location.

If you don't have the time, tools or marketing insights to begin optimizing your Google My Business listing and establishing your Google Maps marketing strategy, let our team of experts handle it for you. Not only do we have years of experience learning about search engine optimization and developing SEO strategies that work, but we're also truly invested in our clients' success.

In fact, to help you get started today we're offering a free consultation where we will analyze your local business' current digital marketing strategy, and let you know where you have gaps and what you can do about it. Call us at (888) 380-2260 to get started today!

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