Google Maps is now a significant feature of Google online marketing. Local businesses with a brick-and-mortar location need to rank highly on Google Maps for potential customers to easily find them. The feature can be one of the best ways to attract new customers as they might search your industry in your area without having prior knowledge of your existence.

For example, say you wanted to try a new cuisine but not sure which one or know which place is the best in your area. You would type the cuisine in Google and search the Maps listing to find the top restaurants of that cuisine in your area. It is highly likely you would choose the one that is ranking well and has solid customer reviews.

You can then easily view the restaurant’s menu, order online or by phone and have the directions to pick up the food. This is just one of many reasons why it is important for businesses to rank well on Google Maps.

Given that Google Maps owns about 63% of the market share, you might want to start thinking about how this feature can help your business increase conversions.

And here’s how you do it.

 

Build a complete Google Maps listing 

Google uses location information to display comprehensive maps. So, even if you don’t enter your specific area but search for a product or service, Google will still be able to tell you those businesses that operate in the area from your location. Therefore, being one of the businesses that appear in Google Maps SEO when someone searches your product or service should be at the top of your priorities list.

The way to get started on making this happen is by creating a complete Google Maps listing through Google My Business. As we all know, Google loves information. The more information you provide Google, the more likely it is to rank your Maps listing highly. This is because Google, like us, wants to know that a business is legit. Google wants to know that if you go to, say, a cafe you’ve searched, you will be greeted by friendly staff and good food, and not a big “FOR SALE” banner covering the window.

Therefore, it is important to register the following information on your Google Maps listing:

  • Company logo
  • Business type and categories
  • Business address
  • Phone number
  • Website link
  • Opening hours
  • Business description
  • Images
  • Services Provided

For hospitality businesses, it is also good to include menu images as well as delivery options like Menulog, DoorDash etc.

 

Reviews, good & bad, are your friend 

Google Maps allows customers to review their experience with your business. This comes in both written and star rating form. When a customer finds your business on Google Maps, they are able to see an overall rating of your business based on accrued customer reviews as well as any individual reviews. We all know how important reviews can be for attracting customers, and therefore it is important to pay attention to these reviews and reply where possible.

If you receive a positive review, thank the customer and let them know that you look forward to having them back. Receiving positive reviews is great, but it’s also important to know what to do if for some reason you receive a negative review. No business is perfect, and you’re bound to experience an unhappy customer from time to time, and relax, Google know this and you won’t be penalised.

However, many business owners are stubborn and refuse to acknowledge a negative review, and this can act as a deterrent for potential customers. The best way to go about handling a negative Google Maps review is to engage with the customer constructively and request that they contact you directly so that you can rectify the situation.

This is simply a much better look for potential customers looking to find a place that listens and cares about what they think. You may also learn from this and it also provides you an opportunity to run your business even better.

 

 

Optimise your website to impact your Google Maps listing 

It isn’t just your Google Maps listing that affects its own ranking: your website should be optimised to positively impact the listing, too. There are numerous ways this can be done, including:

  • Create a responsive site: Ensure your website is responsive across desktop, mobile, tablets etc. as people will find your website through Google Maps via searches on all devices. The website they find has to respond with their device.
  • Add local keywords to your website: You have to target your website for local search. Use location-based keywords that will not only improve your search engine ranking but can also indirectly improve your Google Maps ranking.
  • Add a Google map to your site: This acts as a link between your website and Google Maps listing, telling Google that your business is located exactly where your listing says it is. 
  • Add schema accordingly: Add structured markup that tells Google your business information such as name, address and hours.

Google Maps is a powerful tool that when utilised correctly can provide awesome benefits. Fill in the blanks, respond to your customers and add local elements to your website and you should see great improvements in your Google Maps ranking.