If Google's threat to pull its search engine from Australia has you worried for your…
If you’re a local brick-and-mortar business, you need to make sure you’re listed on Google Maps, and to make sure that listing is as visible, accurate and detailed as it can be.
When you do a quick search for your target keywords on Google Maps, does your own business have pride of place in the local search results? Do you at least show up?
Follow these steps to improve your visibility and put your business on the map.
Why you need to be on Google Maps
These stats from Google should convince you how important it is to rank in local searches:
- 90% of purchases are still made offline,
- 80% of consumers use search engines to find information about local businesses,
- 50% of people who perform local searches on mobile visit the business within 24 hours,
- Twice as many purchases are made as a result of local searches compared to non-local searches (18% vs. 7%).
As Google controls 95% of the mobile search market, getting your business listed on Google’s platforms should be your priority.
Google Maps is now the world’s fourth most popular mobile app, according to comScore’s 2016 US Mobile App Report. That makes it even more popular than Google Search – and Google Map results can still show up in regular search results too, even if you don’t use a local keyword.
How to get on the map
Google explains in simple terms how to add your listing to their map:
1. Open Google Maps and make sure you’re signed in.
2. Zoom in to the map where you want to add your business.
3. In the bottom right, click Send Feedback.
4. Click Add a missing place.
5. Drag the marker where your business is, and add any relevant information.
6. Click Submit.
However, just as being listed on Google Search doesn’t automatically mean visibility for your website, being listed on Google Maps also doesn’t guarantee you’ll stand out. Even if you’ve verified and optimised your listing through Google My Business, you might still notice that you’re not ranking very well in search results for your local area.
Worse, you might click through pages of local map results trying to spot your listing among competitors, only for the map to zoom out and start listing companies from the wider area. This is especially common for younger businesses that aren’t well established yet, but it doesn’t have to be like that.
How to get noticed
Visibility in local search and map results is about more than just targeting keywords in your profile. According to Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors, even a perfect Google My Business listing will only account for around 20% of how your business ranks in local searches.
Almost 50% of ranking factors are related to how third-party websites and users interact with your business, through inbound links, reviews, social shares and actions such as click-to-call and online check-in.
While it can seem intimidating to be so reliant on external factors, this is actually great news for small local businesses. It helps to level the playing field against large brands and franchises, and even a new business has the chance to earn the recognition it deserves by providing quality service and keeping customers satisfied.
Those third-party websites aren’t completely outside your influence either.
Claim your third-party listings
If your business shows up on local sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp or True Local, you should verify your listing and make sure it’s as accurate and detailed as your own profile.
Verifying your business listing can make it twice as reputable to search engines.
Get active on social media
Do you want people to talk about you on social media? Help them out by creating shareable content.
Brands that post fresh and engaging content on a regular basis are rewarded by Google with higher search rankings. For a new or small business, you should aim to post updates at least daily.
Promote every location
If you have multiple locations, it’s important to note that Google judges every listing on its individual merits. If you focus all your attention on promoting your main branch, this will have little to no impact on the others, which could remain in obscurity.
You can help these other locations to get noticed by making sure they’re accurately listed on third-party sites, creating location-specific content in your marketing campaigns, and trying to get write-ups from local media and reputable blogs.
If you’re stuck for ideas, see where your competitors are mentioned online. There are plenty of local guides and directories that are always on the lookout for new and accurate content about local businesses.
Make sure your website’s mobile-friendly
Most local searches are now carried out on mobile devices, and this is becoming ever more common.
Whether you have an e-commerce site or you’re just giving customers the information they need about your local store, your website needs to be responsive for people reading on their phones. If they have to pinch and zoom on a site designed for a desktop monitor, they’re likely to look elsewhere – and Google will penalise you too.
Make sure you’re set up for mobile users with our tips for designing your mobile website.