Local SEO Strategies
So, you’ve got a business that is selling a product or service to a local audience. The keyword is ‘local.’ Your game plan should be to appear in the top three search results of Google Map listings to increase your sign-ups, visitations, and conversions.
This is extremely important for restaurants, salons, clinics, and similar businesses that want more qualified leads. The fact is that most online users search for businesses on Google and pick the top results. Businesses that don’t appear on the top results or don’t have a Google My Business page are missing out big time.
Your business’s position on Google Map listings will become all the more important in the coming months when people will rely more on ‘near-me’ queries or when they use voice search on mobile devices.
Important Statistics You Should Bear in Mind
Did you know that 82% of smartphone searches for businesses online using ‘near me’ queries? 90% of those same users are more likely to click on the first set of results instead of scrolling down. That is how important Google Maps has become. It gives your business the necessary exposure it needs to attract high-quality prospects. All entrepreneurs will agree that gaining exposure is the key to success.
Businesses can gain by taking advantage of their target audiences’ access to Google Maps. It makes your business more accessible, allowing users to make more informed decisions when buying something.
Ranking on Google Maps also adds to your legitimacy and credibility, after all, Google is trusted by users everywhere. If it’s on Google, then it has to be reliable – as flawed as that logic may sound to you, but that’s just how it is.
Getting listed and ranking on Google Maps makes your information easy to find for users. This means they can connect with ease. Google’s ever-evolving Maps has been getting easier for users to use. For starters, you don’t need a degree in programming to get there. You just have to follow the best practices.
How Do I Get My Business on Google Maps?
To rank on Google Maps, you first have to get your business listed there.
To do this:
1. Search for the business in Maps.
2. If the business shows up in results, claim the listing.
3. If the business does not appear, add it as a place to Maps, now claim the new listing.
To claim your listing and make the necessary changes to rank higher, you will need a Google My Business account.
Prepare to give the necessary business information to Google to create your Google My Business Account and claiming your listing. Once this is done, you are now free to control the information about your business name, address, and more. If you find any information to be missing, this is your chance to put it there.
Make sure to enter the URL of your business to give users another outlet to search for information and interacting with you.
Google will verify that you are indeed who you claim you are through its verification procedure. You will receive a PIN that allows you to confirm that it is your business. One of the methods is that Google sends a postcard to the physical address. You may also get a text or phone call for the business. In case your business listing has been validated in the Google Search Console, the verification process is more instantaneous.
How to Rank High on Google Maps
Once you’ve claimed your business listing, you should waste no time in trying to improve your Google Maps ranking. Google Maps will only increase your ranking based on the accuracy and completeness of the listing. Not many businesses take advantage of having a Google My Business listing, make sure you take advantage.
The first thing you should do is to fill in the following details:
- Business Operation Timings
Update the business hours in your GMB page because it will prove to be extremely useful to customers. This information is used by Google maps to let the customer know whether your business is open or closed at the time they searched for your business. This will help the customer decide when to visit you.
- Update Address
Google makes it very clear that you should provide the complete address and will verify your details. Things such as the address, telephone number, and website address assist Google in providing a more accurate picture of your business.
- Don’t Use Duplicate Information
It may seem tempting to use the same information for multiple businesses and locations, but this isn’t a good practice because Google penalizes such businesses. Make sure to not reuse the same old information and to update your details with precise information.
- Add Questions and Answers Page
This works a lot like the FAQ page on websites to answer the frequently-asked questions. These questions help users get answers without having to contact your sales team. You could hire a copywriting service provider to write creative Q/A pages.
- Include Photos
Make sure to include high-quality photos on your Google My Business page to perform much better than business owners and marketers who don’t use pictures. Photos are a great way to earn customer trust and generate more clicks. Try to capture photos of people buying your product or browsing the web. This builds credibility.
Specify the category of your business and details in the description. Make sure to take high-quality pictures of your establishment and upload it. Your business description should include a verified status, profile picture, reviews, and replies to reviews. If you have acquired ratings, make sure to place them in there too.
Beyond the basics, you can follow the seven easy and proven steps to reach the top three spots on Google Maps.
1. Use SEO in Google Maps
This is extremely important and will determine your Google Maps ranking. If you want more customers to connect with your business, then it is important to use the right keywords with your business. It’s like SEO for your website, but it is more refined and specific to your GMB page. You can list local SEO keywords because they will boost your Google Maps and Google Places ranking.
You can also use your website to your advantage. This can be done by using local keywords and embedding a Google Map on it. Your website should be responsive and functional as well.
2. Add Credibility Through Reviews
Companies with positive reviews can rank higher on Google Maps. You can encourage your users to fill up the Google review form by clicking on “More information” in your Google Maps listing to get a link. These links should be shared on social media and your landing page to increase the probability of reviews.
If you get a negative review, don’t fret. You can still turn this around if you handle it quickly and politely. Make sure to stay calm and refrain from giving false promises. It is very important to handle things professionally if you don’t have the answer. If you don’t know what went wrong, it is better to admit defeat. Try to refund the product or provide a free replacement as compensation.
While positive reviews are good, a few negative reviews can’t hurt your business. If anything, negative reviews make your positive reviews more believable and trustworthy. After all, everyone knows you can’t please everyone and there’s always going to be ups and downs.
3. Create Citations and Local Relevance
A citation is a record of your NAP, which is a collection of your business name, phone number, and address. Google relies on citations to validate your business location. In many ways, citations are the equivalent of backlinks in SEO. The more relevant citation sources you add to your business, the higher it will start to rank.
The best place to start is to find directories and websites that are specific to your area or the ones that target your specific business. For example, if you’re a restaurant in New York, then publishing your restaurant on sources specific to New York restaurants would improve your overall location authority and relevance factor.
The more location authority you have, the higher you will rank in Google Maps. It is also important to fill out the business category. You can further refine your ranking by using subcategories in Google Places. This is a good idea if your business sells several products in different categories.
4. Markup Your Google Map with Schema
Another important step is to include NAP for your business on the website. It is important to make the address compatible with the Schema language. This is the structural protocol adopted by most search engines, including Google and Yahoo, to determine certain datasets in web pages.
Optimizing NAP details with Schema lets you send a high-quality signal to search engines about the authority and relevancy of your businesses’ location. This is one of the fastest ways to climb up Google Maps in rankings.
5. Use SEO Optimized Content
The same rules of SEO apply here. You have to make sure any links you add to your GMP page are relevant and contribute to user experience. This means that your landing page should be authoritative as well. Use appropriate keywords, related geo modifiers, relevant keywords, geo-tagged images, and LSI keywords throughout your page multiple times.
6. Acquire More Social Signals
Social signals are used as a cue by search engines and Google Maps to increase your ranking on listings. These include the number of likes your website has, its overall shares, how often people talk about, and whether you’re running any ads on different platforms such as Facebook. Try to create posts on Facebook that encourage discussion about your products and services.
This sends a high-quality signal to Google that your business is sparking debate and discussion. It could go a long way in boosting your ranks.
7. Optimize Your Website
Prospects will visit your website before making a purchase. This makes it important to use a good dashboard and interface that makes user interaction worthwhile. Basic things such as loading speed and easy-to-use menus will affect your rankings as well. This also helps drive traffic to your blog.
Here are a few elements you should optimize on your landing page:
H1 Tag: The H1 tag should say your business name, category, and the area where you are operating out of. If you run a restaurant in Los Angeles, your landing page should have an H1 header as follows: “Los Angeles Restaurant: Restaurant Name in LA”. This title tag is a great way to help Google decide the relevancy of your page.
Description Tag: Moving on from the H1 tag, the next key element is the description tag. It is important to use the basic rules of SEO. A good example would be the following: “Top restaurant in Los Angeles cooking delicious food with fresh ingredients. Get in touch with us now to ask questions!” Notice the use of the term ‘restaurant’ and ‘Los Angeles’ in the description?
You can further refine the Meta description so that it resonates not only with your audience but also gets picked up by Google.
Onsite Content: Your website should give a fully fleshed out experience to users visiting it from the GMB page. This means having an active blog that shares valuable information and tips with users. If you are a restaurant, don’t be afraid to share tips about food and recipes. Consider hiring professional blog writers to handle this bit for you.
Build Strong Backlinks: Your website should have a good number of high-quality backlinks. This sends a strong signal to Google that there are enough websites with high domain authority that are willing to link back to you.