When you search for a local product/service, you may notice 3 different sections of the SERPs:
- Google Ads
- Google Maps
- Google Organic
For your reference, it usually looks something like this.
In the Google Maps section, you can see three businesses that Google decided to showcase above the organic search section.
If you’re here, you know that getting in the “Google 3-Pack” can be huge for the number of leads you generate. Businesses that rank #4 and even lower on Google Maps receive significantly fewer calls and website visitors.
This article will discuss Google Maps SEO and the six keys to rank higher on Google Maps.
We distilled it down to six because there is a TON of information usually tailored for SEOs (like me) with nothing better to do than squeeze water out of a rock.
This blog will get you started with Google Maps SEO and put you miles ahead of the herd.
Ranking Factor #1: Proximity
Proximity is the #1 ranking factor for Google Maps.
Since it’s a bit out of your control, we won’t spend much time on this one. However, that doesn’t deny the fact that it is the #1 Google Maps SEO ranking factor.
If you’ve already picked the location of your business, your best bet is to just move on to the next five tips.
If you haven’t, carefully consider where you foresee most of your business coming from.
- What specific neighborhood?
- What income bracket?
- What demographic?
For example, if you run a luxury car repair shop in Atlanta, you may want to situate yourself in a wealthy neighborhood like Inham Park or Buckhead. This obviously makes sense for the drive-by traffic your business will receive and for being close to your clientele. From a marketer’s perspective, it also makes sense, given the importance of proximity.
Let’s move on to the five ranking factors that will always be in your control.
Ranking Factor #2: Website Ranking
Second, on the list of importance is the ranking of your website.
Generally speaking, sites that rank in the top 3 of organic search also tend to rank in the top three of the map packs.
From my experience, this is for two reasons:
- If your site passes Google’s tests and ranks on organic search, it basically gets a free pass in Google’s eyes to rank in Google Maps.
- If you do the necessary SEO work to rank your website on organic search, it’s likely you also did the necessary SEO work to rank higer on Google Maps as well.
Ranking Factor #3: Citations
If backlinks are the votes of confidence that rank your website on Google search, then citations are the votes of confidence that rank your Google My Business on Google Maps.
What is a citation?
A Google citation is your business name, address, and phone number as Google sees it listed somewhere on the internet. Your name, address, and phone number is also known as a NAP.
Why is this important?
Straight from the mouth of Google, they list “prominence” as to how well-known a business is.
This is how well-known a business is in the offline world and the online world. Speaking of the online world, you can increase the prominence of your business by increasing the number of places on the internet it’s mentioned. A few different places can be links, article mentions, and directories.
As far as directories go, you’ll really want to get this one right by using your exact match NAP.
What Is A NAP And Why Is It Important?
As we mentioned, your NAP is your business name, address, and phone number, according to Google.
Google considers your business name to be the exact name you use in your Google My Business profile. This is important because if you use any other variation, Google won’t recognize it. This is how they keep things organized and fair for the millions of businesses using its platform.
For example, our business name is “Flying Lobo”, so naturally, we decided to use the same thing for our GMB profile.
This means that we have to use the name “Flying Lobo” on every directory listing on the internet.
This includes places like Facebook, Yelp, and Yellow Pages.
Even though names like “Flying Lobo LLC’ and “Flying Lobo Marketing” may seem acceptable, they’re not an exact match and won’t be recognized by Google.”
Your address has a bit more flexibility with commas and formatting, just make sure there aren’t any typos.
Your phone number also has room for some flexibility regarding whether you use parenthesis around the area code like this (xxx) or a dash-separator like this, xxx-xxx-xxxx.
Ranking Factor #4: Profile Optimization
If your business isn’t ranking as high as you’d like on Google My Business, one of the quickest improvements you can make is to optimize your profile.
By optimization, we basically just mean adding the correct information.
Another quick thing you can do is respond to any reviews customers have left.
Lastly, add as many photos as you can.
Don’t think you have enough photos? Think again, here are some ideas:
Photos of employees working, headshots, photos during company events, and doing just about anything work-related.
- Photos of completed work
- Photos of inside your office/storefront
- Photos of outside your office/storefront
1. Correct Hours, Website, & NAP
2. Accurate Service Area
If you own a service business and travel to your customers, Google will allow you to hide your address and instead create a service area.
3. Photos... Lots of Photos
We like to aim for about 20 photos, but this benchmark won’t stop us from uploading literally hundreds of quality photos if a company has them.
This will increase your relevance in Google’s eyes and increase the comfort potential customers feel with your business. Remember, nowadays, a lot of the selling is done before you even interact with a customer in person.
Before a customer invites a stranger in their home to fix their plumbing or paint their kitchen, they’ll do their due diligence to see if you are trustworthy. A couple of places they’ll look include your social media profiles, your website, and your GMB profile.
Types Of Photos To Add:
- Inside Your Business (For Brick And Mortars)
- Outside Your Business (For Brick And Mortars)
- Your Staff/Crew Working
- Completed Products/Services
- Happy Customers
- You And/Or Your Team Volunteering In Your Community
Ranking Factor #5: Google Reviews
This one surprises a lot of local business owners we work with. Not that it’s on the list, but that it’s not higher up.
In their mind, it should be the #1 ranking factor for businesses on both Google Maps and Google Search.
And you know what? They bring up a good point.
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t 100% see it that way.
In fact, we’ve ranked businesses #1 on Google Maps without receiving a single review. Ya, I know… It doesn’t really seem fair, but that’s just how the Google game is played.
Still, your reviews carry a good amount of weight. We say, “the more five-star reviews you have, the better.”
Reviews will help a bit with ranking, but they’re going to be the biggest driver of higher CTR’s to your website and the call button.
Here’s a decent example:
I Googled “Plumber Austin” and found that a business with over 11,000 reviews only ranks #3. This goes to show that Google was many other factors when calculating rankings.
If I Google “Plumber Austin” outside of Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning’s office, they’ll likely show up #1 because of the proximity ranking factor.
Ranking Factor #6: 3rd-Party Reviews
In ranking factor #3, we talked about prominence. How many places around the internet are talking about your business? An important way Google calculates your relevance is through 3rd-party reviews on trustworthy sites.
A few of these sites include:
- Home Advisor
- Yellow Pages
The more reviews you have on these 3rd party sites, the better in Google’s eyes.
In our minds, Google is the #1 way to grow a business and get more customers. Every second, millions of people across the world are searching for local businesses online. If your business doesn’t show up, there’s no other way to put it… You’re leaving money on the table.
If you find yourself in this situation, there’s good news.
Google has laid out the rules clearly and made Google Maps SEO an understandable science.