SEO Tips: Ranking on Google Maps

Google Maps rankingEarlier this week I wrote a useful blog about the good resources for small businesses on the Google My Business section. But the most important tool in that section in Google Maps. Local search is important if you are a small business looking to improve your SEO. Whether it’s locals or tourists more people are using Google Maps rather than traditional search.

Why are more people using Maps instead of a normal search? As most of you know I travel a ton for my broadcasting work. When I travel I almost always use Google Maps as my go to navigation tool. I use Google Maps because I can get quick directions and a GPS function to almost anywhere. But just as important, Google Maps provides me with the ability to find things around the location that I’m visiting. So if I want to research the area around my hotel for shops, attractions, places to eat, etc. Google Maps provides that with the click of a button.

I even use it around the areas I live or visit to help research restaurants. Google Maps not only provides the business’ location, but a ton of info about the business, such as hours, customer reviews and a link to the website. As more people use mobile apps and ditch traditional search it’s important to take Google Maps serious. Your potential customers already are looking for you there, so how do you rank?

The first step to ranking well on Google Maps is to have a proper address. If you have a home business (like I do), yes you can use your home address. It’s important to have something listed as your business address so Google Maps can find you. In most cases this isn’t a problem for a business, and you may try to find your business on Google Maps to discover that Google already created  your business for you. All you have to do is claim it.

Claiming a business requires you to verify the listing, which is pretty simple. If you have Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools set up with your Gmail account Google should recognize this and once you claim your business listing it will automatically see you are linked with the website URL and verify it. If not, all you have to do is request a postcard to be sent to the address of the listing. If the address listing is wrong you can update it and then request the postcard. The postcard will contain a few digits you can enter and usually only takes about a week to arrive.

Once you have a verified business you are likely to see some improvement in your SEO when you search locally. Next you have to start to work your existing customers. Encourage them to post reviews on your Business page. Those reviews will help you move up the search results. Google ranks companies higher on Google Maps with more reviews because that information is useful for people searching for you. You can even start a raffle to encourage people to review, like “each person that reviews is entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card!” Be creative and it will help motivate customers to take to Google in droves!

When you are listed on Google Maps, you have to make sure the information is current in the My Business section of Google+. Make sure the correct business description is listed on the page. If not, write a few sentences about the business and include keywords that people will use to find you (i.e. “Boston best pizza”). Usually you want to pick one rather than trying to flood the description with multiple keywords that Google will see as spam.

Google will also give you the opportunity to list your business in a few different categories. Make sure you pick the right categories for your business. Again, don’t try to spam. If Google already set up your listing, double check the categories are correct.

Backlinks are an important step in any SEO, including ranking higher on Google Maps. Quality links to your website with a focus on local will help give you a boost on Maps. Links from other local businesses, chamber of commerce’s, city government websites or media websites are all examples of high quality backlinks.

Following these tips will help you improve your search rankings on Google Maps! Make it easier for locals and tourists to find you and you’ll see a spike in business! Please feel free to email me anytime to find out more how I can help improve your SEO!