How To Rise in the Rankings of Google Maps
How do you improve your Rankings in Google Maps Searches?
You’ve probably used Google Maps before. This search function was initially created to help people find their way to a local business matching their search. But over time Google has evolved “map search” into a multi-functional product they call Google My Business or GMB. Now it’s become more of a mini Social Media site with reviews, videos and photos in addition to your address and location. Like all websites, there are plenty of ways that you as a local business can optimize your ranking.
What results are shown in a Google Maps search?
Whether you’re searching for a car accident lawyer, a dentist or a pet groomer, one thing remains consistent in every Google Maps search: The “3 Pack”.
The 3 Pack is the top three organic listings that appear on Google Maps search result for any category of business. Plus, in some searches, Google will include a Paid Ad at the top of the 3 Pack in the Maps section – more on that later. These listings show a graphic map, distance from the search location to the business, hours of operation, the address itself and the online reviews. If you are a local business, your main objective should be ranking among the 3 Pack.
Why is this important?
Simply put, it’s free.
In many categories, such as personal injury lawyers, the top results of a Google search, the PPC Ads (Pay Per Click) can go for upwards of $300 per click! That’s a hefty price to pay for premium-position advertising, but it’s especially costly when you consider your other option of ranking in the 3 Pack for no cost at all.
Additionally, ranking in the 3 Pack can get your company more eyeballs than a regular organic Google search. For instance, the organic search results (below maps) for “Restaurants Near Me” will yield results from Yelp, TripAdvisor or OpenTable. Often, local restaurants’ websites will often not come up in the first ten results. However, the 3 Pack will appear even before these organic listings. If you optimize your Google Maps or Google My Business page, you have the opportunity to appear in that 3 Pack without having to pay a cent.
For local businesses like law firms or medical practices, Google My Business is going to produce a significant portion of your online traffic. It’s important to recognize the power that this tool holds and use it to its full potential.
How do I rank in the 3 Pack?
There are a number of essential To-Do’s that will get your business ranking in the 3 Pack. For your convenience, we’ve included a free downloadable “Google My Business Checklist” and the recorded video of a webinar we prepared on this topic.
For quick reference, here is a brief summary of the topics covered in this article:
And here is a link to the recording:
- Claim your Google My Business (GMB) Profile
If you haven’t already done so, the first step to optimizing your Google Maps ranking is to claim your business. This prompt will appear when you perform a Google search for your business by name.
Google My Business will require you to log in and create an account and then validate your physical location with a code included on a postcard.
Once you’ve claimed your profile, the next step is to fill it out. Add photos, hours of operation, services provided, etc. It’s important that your profile is 100% completed, because these fully-completed profiles get 7 times more results from Google searches than incomplete profiles.
Tip: Keep an eye on your Google My Business page. Google frequently adds new categories for businesses to fill out. Continue to monitor your page and complete these new categories as they appear to optimize your profile.
- Ensure you have a consistent NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) across all online listings
This one is pretty simple, and it’s something that you should do regardless of your intent to rank on Google searches. Make sure that your company’s Name, Address and Phone Number is consistent everywhere that it appears online. For instance, we choose to spell out the number in our name (“Ten Golden Rules”). Because of this, we want to make sure that our company is listed as Ten Golden Rules, not 10 Golden Rules, on all social media and web platforms.
- Develop a program to request reviews from happy customers
One of the most influential ways you can promote your business, and rank high in map searches, is through lots of positive reviews. People like to know that others have found success or have had a pleasant experience working with a business. This promotes trust, which is one of the most important aspects of any business.
Develop a strategy to get reviews from every happy customer you work with. Make sure that these reviews are coming from unique IP addresses, not using your WiFi network, and are attached to real Google accounts. The more positive reviews you have, the more people will trust your business.
There are a few different strategies you can use to secure positive reviews. One would be to ask for reviews. Oftentimes, clients and people in the community who you’ve interacted with will be more than happy to support your business by typing up a few words. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Make it easy. There is a simple link available in Google My Business. Here is our link, and we would really appreciate a review from you! https://g.page/tengoldenrules/review?rc
You can also develop internal strategies to see success in populating reviews. One way to do this is to assign each new client a specific contact within the company, and set the expectation that this person should secure a review once the client has received the promised services. Another approach is to incentivize your team to get these reviews with a cash or gift reward. While you can’t pay customers for reviews (it is against Google’s terms of service), you can offer your team members an incentive for every review they’re able to secure.
Finally, you can use an application like BirdEye to automate review requests and optimize the collection of high-star reviews.
- Create a calendar and update content in “Posts”
Google My Business has become the next social media. It has evolved past a business listing feature and now allows you and your patrons to interact on the platform. Your clients have the ability to post photos of your business, answer questions about it and, of course, write reviews.
You can also update your My Business page with “posts,” similar to the posts you would make on a Blog, Facebook or LinkedIn page. You should add at least one post per week linking back to your website, and remain consistent among all platforms.
- Implement Tracking and Analytics
Google MY Business tracks three types of searches on Google Maps - Direct (someone searches for the exact name of your business “Ten Golden Rules”), Branded (someone searches for a brand related to your business “Golden Rules”), and Indirect (someone searches for the category that your business fits in “internet marketing agency”). Your goal is to appear in the 3 Pack for each of these, but new customers will come from Indirect searches.
You can track which types of searches your traffic is coming from by using the Insights feature on your Google My Business page.
Some helpful ways to increase your traffic from Indirect searches are to make sure all of your locations are listed, optimize your listing by showcasing the interior of your office space, and build your website to use Google-optimized coding (called “schema”).
Tip: Use a service like CallRail to track where your leads are coming from. This allows you to see which calls came from your Google My Business listing, which came from social media, and so on.
- Answer questions “Q & A”
As we’ve discussed, the Google My Business platform allows users to ask questions of your business. You should respond to each of these questions in a timely and professional manner. You should also respond to each of your reviews, positive and negative alike, and offer solutions to problems they have listed or thanks for kind words.
Tip: If you have the bandwidth, assigning someone within your company to respond to questions and reviews will ensure that none go unanswered.
- Build links to your GMB and website
Just as you’ve built your business’s profile on Google My Business, you should do the same on other map sites like Apple Maps and Yelp, as well as search engines like Yahoo and Bing. Even though 80% of your searches will come from Google, that still leaves an important 20% that your business can reach on other platforms.
You should also collaborate with other websites to get a link to your website listed on theirs. You can do this by offering content that might be valuable to their readers like a blog post or article. You can also use sites like ZipSprout to increase your links organically. This will increase your ranking on Google and will shoot your business higher in the Map listings.
- Improve Google search engine results through the “ABC’s of SEO”
Websites with strong SEO (Search Engine Optimization) have strong Google Maps search results, and vice-versa. Improving your overall website SEO will increase Maps search results.
Stripped down to the very basics, the ABC’s of SEO stand for Architecture, Backlinks, and Content. Maintaining a strong strategy in these core areas of your website will maximise your Google SEO ranking.
We recently held a webinar detailing the ABC’s and explaining the steps you can take to implement them on your website.
- Ensure all GMB pages have real locations (not virtual office suites)
There are plenty of businesses that try to trick the system by faking a storefront to gain a higher Google Maps ranking in that area. This is a strategy that will not work in the long run, and can actually result in your Google My Business page being suspended or deactivated.
If you’d like to rank higher in a certain area where you don’t have an office space, you can either purchase a small office space or suite in a larger building or you can partner with another business already located in that area.
- Set up Paid Map Ad strategy in Google AdWords
You can link your Google My Business and Google Ad Words accounts to take advantage of the “hidden treasure” in Google Maps: the paid ad position.
Many businesses and consumers alike are unaware that the top position, showcased before the 3 Pack on Google Maps, is available as a paid ad. This ad is highly valuable, as there is only a very small indication that this is not an organic result. Essentially, people think your business is the best in the area even though you are paying for this ad position. It’s proven quite effective, yielding 2 to 4 times the effectiveness as a regular PPC ad listings.
If you have already implemented all of the steps above, then congratulations! Your Google My Business page is well optimized and you should be ranking high in local searches. If you’ve implemented these steps, but aren’t seeing the results, you may still have some work to do. Contact Ten Golden Rules at 561-620-9121 for a free consultation.