Every search for a local business on Google is an opportunity for you to bring in a new customer. If your small business shows up on the results page, your business is very likely to see a boost. Search Engine Land reports that location qualifier searches (i.e.: “near me” and “nearby”) doubled in 2015 and Google says interest searches have multiplied 34x.
As customers become increasingly mobile, showing up when they are searching for a “nearby” local business is essential. While the results they receive are influenced by many different factors, Google’s algorithm will give preference to local businesses that are within a certain distance of the searcher’s location — and show the top three local businesses in Google Maps.
How to show up in the top three on Google Maps
Getting your small business into the top three on Google Maps is important because it tells consumers where to shop and gives them the contact information for each business (making it that much easier for the searcher to take an action).
As you can see in the smartphone screenshot, the listings I am shown for the query “coffee shop near me” have reviews, categories, price points, brief descriptions and photos, giving the searcher crucial decision-making information. Each coffee shop is within walking distance to the physical location where I am conducting the search.
Other information that Google Maps will show about local businesses*:
- Phone number
- Hours of operation
- Street view
- Inside tour
*It’s important to note that the information shown to searchers is dependent on their device, location and search query. While a local business can’t control the query, you can control the information Google has about your business by using Google My Business.
Google does give you the option to see more than three listings, but you must click the “more” button at the bottom in order to view them. If your local business isn’t showing up in the top three on Google Maps, keep reading to learn how you can increase your ranking and visibility with local internet marketing strategies.
Create a content marketing strategy
Whether or not you realize it, you are probably already using content marketing — you just call it something else.
Do you have..
- A website where you regularly blog?
- Social media pages where customers follow you?
- Tutorial videos on YouTube where you show customers how to use a product?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions (or have other material you created to promote your business to customers), you’re using content marketing.
Google’s search algorithm looks at your entire web presence (such as backlinks, mentions, shares, etc.) when deciding how your business will rank on maps. Businesses with a stronger web presence tend to rank higher.
To grow your web presence, you should create a steady, consistent stream of content. You should be regularly blogging, engaging your fans on social media, interacting with other businesses and be listed on other local sites.
Not doing these things? Now is a great time to get started!
Claim and optimize business listings
Google’s algorithm scans the entire internet to determine rankings. In addition to finding information that you publish about your own business (your content marketing strategy), Google’s Map algorithm also takes into account the information that other websites provide.
The largest group of authoritative websites that will have information about your business — and provide it to Google — are online directories (such as yellowpages.com, local.com and Bing).
To show up in the top three on Google Maps, you need to claim and optimize your business listing across all online directories. Unfortunately, claiming and optimizing your business listing is easier said than done.
Since online directories pull their data from many different sources, it isn’t always consistent or correct. If online directories don’t all have the same information about your business, it will negatively impact your chance of showing up in the top three of Google Maps.
Unless you actively monitor each of these directories to ensure the information is correct, there may be mistakes. This incorrect information will be read by Google and the algorithm will drop your ranking because it is receiving inconsistent data, so it can’t be sure which information is the right one to display.
If you are a LocalVox customer, you can rest easy knowing that we have taken care of claiming, optimizing and monitoring your business listings across hundreds of online directories.
If you aren’t a LocalVox customer, you can still run a free SEO report to see how your business is listed in online directories. Once you’ve identified the problem, you can either visit the offending directory and update your business’s information or enroll in a service, like LocalVox, that does it for you automatically.
Reviews are important
Google has recently gotten into the review game. Many speculated that it was to compete with Yelp, but (in true Google form), it was part of a much larger strategic plan.
Google now displays reviews alongside your business’s listing, presenting searchers with all the information they need to make a decision on the spot. With 89% of people trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, having a solid set of positive reviews is extremely important if you want to convert potential customers into paying ones.
You may have noticed that Google doesn’t display phone numbers and exact addresses in the top three Maps results, but kept information like price, reviews and awards. This was not an oversight and tells us something important about what you need to do to be part of that group: ensure you have a high volume of good reviews on Google. If you want to start getting more online reviews, check out this article.
Once you’ve got a solid library of content, fixed your directories and have a good amount of positive reviews, you’ll be on your way to breaking into the top three positions on Google Maps. However, getting to the top three is only half the battle; you have to work to stay there. One of the best ways to stay on top of local search results is to build backlinks.
Backlinking is where another website that has authority (such as the Better Business Bureau or your local Chamber of Commerce) links to your website.
Google’s search algorithm likes backlinks because they are essentially endorsements from other websites. For example, I can tell people that my restaurant, Catherine’s Cafe, makes the best New York bagels in town. However, Google isn’t going to take my word for it until other websites, like Zagats or Eater, verify that fact and say, “yes, Catherine’s Cafe does make the best New York bagels in town.”
If you are a LocalVox customer, you’ll have access to NearSay and the ability to build up these types of endorsements.
Use Google My Business
Google My Business is a tool that allows you to manage all of your business’s information in one central location. Google created this tool that so you don’t have to login multiple times for each account (Maps, Search, Google+, reviews, etc.) to make updates to your pages.
By using Google My Business, you ensure that potential customers receive your correct business information and increase the likelihood that your business will be included in the top three on Google Maps.
Google Maps is just one part of Google My Business. To learn more about everything the solution has to offer — and how your business can take advantage the features — download our free ebook.
If you’re still struggling to get your business on Google Maps, Vivial has marketing experts that can help you. As a Google Partner, we have the benefit of receiving training and know-how directly from the source. Send us your contact information and someone from our team will get in touch with you about different strategies you can use to increase your online presence.
Getting your business on Google Maps is achievable, even for small businesses on a modest marketing budget. While it might not be extremely expensive, it does take some time, effort and expertise — and this is where Vivial can step in and help you. Contact us today and we’ll help you get your business on Google Maps.
from Local Marketing Blog – LocalVox http://localvox.com/blog/get-your-business-on-google-maps/