Showing up on page one of Google is important for local businesses trying to make the most out of their SEO efforts. There’s no surprise here considering that’s where a majority of people turn to when they need a service provider.
In the old days, organic rankings were what businesses focussed on. Today, there’s a new sheriff in town that you want to rank for – that’s Google Maps. In order to get in the Google Maps pack, you need a Google My Business page (GMB).
How you optimize your GMB could be the key to a dramatic increase in new business. In this article, we’re going to discuss how you can rank your Google My Business higher in the Google Maps section.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is one of the first things you see when searching for a local business. It highlights the top three companies that are relevant to your search, with the business info the business supplied and reviews from past customers.
A majority of the people searching for local companies turn to GMB to find the best choice. This is primarily because of the reviews. Google My Business is the number one place people go to read reviews to determine the quality of a business.
The three businesses Google highlights is referred to as the “Local Pack”, however, there’s always the option to view more businesses if the local pack doesn’t meet what you’re looking for. Here’s how it looks on Google:
Is Google My Business Important For SEO?
Your Google My Business and website optimization go hand and hand with each other. You can even say your Google My Business optimization is even more important than your website’s since the local pack gets more visibility due to the reviews.
The better you rank in the local pack, the better more business you will likely get. If you can get the most reviews out of your competitors, you’ll be the best looking business on paper.
How Can I Rank My Business Higher In The Maps Pack?
Filling Your Business Info Out Completely:
Use a local phone number instead of an 800 number. Try not to use tracking numbers unless you really want to track how many calls are coming from your GMB. The best practice is to match the same number you are promoting on your website. This match will help the quality score of your Google My Business page and is important for NAP consistency (we’ll get into that later).
If your website isn’t already loading on https, you should make that switch as soon as possible. This makes your website secure and being secure is definitely favored by Google. To be secure you’ll need to buy an SSL certificate from your hosting provider. If you already have one but your site is still loading on http, try this plugin for WordPress sites.
In your GMB, make sure your website is pointing to your homepage or whatever the money page of your business is. If you have multiple Google My Business pages for different locations, a good practice is sending that location to a location-specific landing page.
If you are a single location business, the homepage is the best bet.
Hours are pretty self explanatory. You want your hours to be accurate to the hours your business is open. If you are closed for any holidays or other reasons throughout the year, it looks good to update your hours accordingly.
Your business description is a quick paragraph describing what your all about. You can use keywords for your business in here, but don’t overdo it. Shoving keywords in here isn’t going to help you rank, this should be a message to your audience on why to choose you.
Your business categories are one of the most important parts of your GMB. If you mess this up, you’ll likely never rank for what you want to be ranking for until you fix it. Here’s a list of GMB categories.
Some businesses may only have one relevant category to choose. Others, can have several. For example, attorneys that cover a few areas of law should choose all those they do, Family Law Attorney, Law Firm, Lawyer, Elder Law Attorney, etc.
Make your primary category the one that describes you best and put all other categories as secondary. This will help you rank for all different search queries regarding the category.
Regarding details, you just want to fill out the questions GMB is asking as best as you can. Things like what payments do you take and what was your opening date just further complete your profile. Fill out your business details as best you can to get as close to 100% complete as possible.
Photos are an underrated part of Google My Business. If you can consistently add fresh photos to your business page, Google will love that. If the photos are relevant enough to describe your service, the searchers will love it too.
A before and after photo for carpet cleaners is a great idea for new photos.
You should also have a google GMB Logo and Cover photo that are the sizes Google asks for. This will make your GMB stand out and not be blury.
If your GMB is unverified, you should verify as soon as possible. To do this they usually send a postcard with a verification code to the GMB address to ensure you are really there.
If you don’t have access to your GMB, learn how to get it here.
Reviews are the heart and soul of your GMB page. Any GMB can be 100% filled out and optimized, leaving reviews to be the only differentiator.
It’s no surprise that people are attracted to the business with the most, and the best reviews. Yet again, there’s a lot of other things that go into the algorithm when using reviews as a ranking signal. We wrote a whole blog on how reviews influence your SEO rankings here.
Responding to Reviews
Good or bad, you should be responding to all the customers that take the time to leave you a review. Not only will this send good signs to Google that you’re doing your job, but it will also lead to increased customer retention and winning back customers that voiced their poor experience.
Your response to reviews is also noticed by potential customers which could go a long way.
Google My Business now has the opportunity to post updates from the business. If you have any new products or blogs you want to showcase, here would be a good place.
GMB Posts show you’re active to Google and could be a great way to help your rankings.
Questions & Answers
This is something new Google is playing around with. People are able to ask you questions about your business through your GMB. By staying ontop of them and answering questions accordingly, you should be viewed as a more quality business than those who don’t.
Notice The Trend?
As long as your doing what Google wants you to do on your GMB and giving all the requested information, you’ll be in a better position than the other guy. You’d be surprised how many of your competitors are ignoring many of these components, so taking advantage here could be your golden ticket to higher rankings.
Optimizing Your Website For Maps:
Normal SEO practices are favorable to rank better in the maps pack. Some of the things to pay attention to are:
- Embed a map
- Mobile Responsive
- Local Business Schema
- Niche Specific Pages
- Location Specific Pages
- Website Speed
Let’s break all of them down.
Keywords are important to have on your website. Your best keyword is probably “[niche] + [location]”. For example, carpet cleaner Tampa, Florida.
Having this keyword on your site along with other supporting keywords will help your organic rankings as well as maps rankings. Here’s a guide on using keywords.
Embed a map
Having a map embed of your Google My Business page will help with sending signals to Google that you’re located where you say you are. Placing this in the sidebar or footer of your website is a good idea to get more local relevance.
If your site isn’t mobile responsive, it may be time for a change. More than half of your website traffic is probably coming from mobile devices and that number is only expected to rise. It’s no surprise that Google rewards mobile responsive websites over those that aren’t.
Local Business Schema
Schema is a code embeded in the head or footer of your website. It basically marks of the information shown on your site to tell Google, “This is our company name, this is our phone number, this is our address, these are our reviews” and more. Google likes schema markups, so having them will further your efforts in ranking locally.
Here’s a guide on marking up your data.
Niche Specific Pages
Having supporting pages with your sub-niches will help rank for those searches. For example, if your a pest control provider, you should have a page about bed bugs, fleas, and other pests that you help exterminate. These will help you when people search for “bed bug exterminator near me”.
On top of that, it’s a good idea to have a blog, and write about different topics involving the niche. How Do I Get Rid Of Bed Bugs? Can I Get Sick From Bed Bugs? How Do I Know If I Have Bed Bugs?
When Google indexes these pages, it will think OK – this site is definitely a bed bug extermination company.
Location Specific Pages
Ontop of the niche related posts, you want Google to know that you are definitely where you say you are. If you’re located in Tampa, Florida, you may have blogs such as: Things to do in Tampa Bay, Famous People Who Live In Tampa, Best Restaurants in the Tampa Area. Get the point?
The purpose of these blogs is to send more local relevance to Google so you rank for Tampa related searches.
The speed of your website is important for all ranking desires and conversion purposes. People want fast loads, so Google will give them that. It may be worth the investment to hire a professional that can get your website to top speed You can check how fast your site is on Pingdom.
Off-Page tactics to help rank your GMB higher:
As a local service provider, you want your business to be listed in every online directory as possible. This is important not only to be found by potential customers who are using these directories to find a business, but also to help your GMB rankings.
Each listing your in consists of a link back to your website which will help with GMB rankings as well as overall organic rankings.
To influence your rankings more with local listings, you want every data to have accurate information across the board. The most important things are you Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP). That means no more call tracking numbers.
The more consistent these are, the more Google will trust your site. There has definitely been many correlations between NAP consistency and increases in rankings. If there’s one thing you take from this post, this should be it.
Backlinks are one of the fundamentals to SEO. You want to generate a variety of backlinks to important pages on your website to increase the overall authority of your website. You can either buy backlinks from a provider, or manually reach out to sites who have content that can link to your page.
For more info on getting backlinks, check out this article on banklinko.com.
Get Better Ranks in the Google Maps Pack
To get better ranks in Google Maps, just simply do what Google asks you to do. Don’t do anything spammy, and don’t break any of their guidelines.
- Make sure your entire GMB is filled out with the correct information.
- Start getting consistent reviews.
- Stay on top of responding to reviews and questions asked.
- Get your business listed in every directory you can with accurate info.
- Optimize your website for speed.
- Markup your business data with schema.
- Embed your GMB map on your homepage.
- Start generating backlinks.
For help with getting reviews, you can always count on 2 Step Reviews. See how we get our customers reviews every day below.
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