Google offers a wide range of tools and services for free, but my personal favorite is Google Maps as it is one of the less explored services by online marketers. Google Maps may not provide keyword research facilities or track website user data, but thanks to its precise location based information, it can help you earn huge revenue through local listings on SERP.
Google Maps is a goldmine
Every business owner, small brick & mortar store owners and multinationals should focus on Google Maps marketing. It is all about using the functionalities of Google Maps to make your business easier to find. However, unlike traditional SEO where ranking matters the most, Google Maps concentrates more on positioning or the location of your business, but not just your store/office location. I will discuss about this later in the article.
Proximity based results: Google offers proximity based results when you search for a specific type of business using your GPS enabled smartphone or tablet. For example, if you search for “coffee shop” right now using Google Search app in your smartphone, you will get a list of results. The list will start with the closest café from your current location and then the radius will increase as the list goes down.
Proximity is not everything: Remember I said at the beginning of this article that location of the business is important, but there are other factors too? Let me explain now. Suppose someone uses a device without GPS facility (old iPad Wi-Fi models), or what if someone is using a desktop computer to search places in Google Maps (not Google Search)? Google can’t track your location in that case and thus shows “ranked” results. For example, if you’re are sitting at Chicago and searching for “cakes in Dakota”, you will see a list of bakeries and this list has nothing to do with the distance between you and the store location.
Here is where marketing part of Google Maps starts getting serious and complicated.
When you use Google Maps to find a business, without providing your location data, then Google My Business listing plays a vital role to decide the ranks. It is not just your location and reviews, but all that matters is how well optimized your listing is.
While many businesses claim their Google My Business listing, some merchants only provide basic information. Due to incomplete information, they fall behind the competitors and can’t take advantage of Google Maps results.
Here is a list of things you can do to optimize your Google Maps listing and boost visibility in both mobile and desktop local search results.
Give accurate address information:
While entering the address in Google My Business page, make sure that all the details about your office/shop is mentioned clearly. For example, if your office is inside a multistoried building, write the floor number, suit number and anything else that may help users reach your office effortlessly. During the form fill up process you will find a checkbox that ask you whether you want your office/shop address to be displayed on Google Maps or not. Don’t forget to say yes!
Specify the areas you cover: Suppose you own a pizza delivery restaurant. You serve pizza at the restaurant and also offer doorstep delivery within 5km radius of your store. In that case, you have to mention the places from where people can send you orders. This way, you will be able to penetrate the market when people from those areas will search for “pizza delivery near me”.
Don’t restrict to broad categories only: You must mention the primary business category while listing your business, but don’t think that mentioning primary category is good enough. The more categories you include the better chances you have to get noticed by end users. For example, we run an online marketing business (broad category) and our sub-categories are SEO, content marketing, PPC, SMO etc.
Optimize business introduction: Write a brief and crisp business introduction in the Google My Business page to help Google understand what you do. If you offer a wide range of services, then use a bullet point list to mention them all. Infuse keywords in your introduction for enhanced search engine optimization.
Add photos: You should upload some images of your store/office in the business listing page and also add metadata to the images to help Google locate your business through images as well.
Request for customer reviews: Your business must receive at least 5 reviews on the Google My Business page because only after that Google Maps searches will show your business information along the reviews. However, you can’t always get positive reviews and you should not feel sad about that. Answer the customer grievances patiently and try to win back their loyalty.
Like any other digital marketing techniques, Google Maps marketing is a time taking process. Your Maps visibility will certainly improve if you follow the guidelines mentioned above, but don’t lose patience as it takes time to beat the competitors when you are based in a locality which is filled with same type of product or service providers. Apply other on and off-page SEO techniques with Google Maps optimization to witness best results.