Want your business to show up so local customers can find you? The key is to prioritize local SEO with Google Maps. Local SEO is the act of optimizing a local business so that it ranks for local keywords such as  “Dentists in Seattle.” In fact, 46% of search queries have local intent, and “near me” searches continue to grow in popularity. Google Maps account is one of the main factors for ranking locally. Everyone strives to rank in the top three of local listings also known as the “The 3 Pack.” That is the first three results that show in both the Google Maps and the maps listings with local. When you click the “more place” icon below it, of course, you will get a list of all options.

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Google Maps (Formerly known as Google Places) is managed through the Google My Business platforms which allow businesses to manage their presence through Google.  If you are a local business, with a physical location it is essential to have your business listed.  Besides your websites, it is one of the first platforms I recommend that businesses get listed on. Maps listings are the first to show even in an organic Google Search.  This means that if customers in your area are searching for your type of business, it can potentially show above all organic results and videos in Google Search.

Google Maps Setup

Setup and verification take just a few simple steps and is done through Google My Business.

Head over to business.google.com and sign in to the Gmail account that you will associate with your business. Once you are in you will either choose the “Add Location” or Google will bring you directly to the create section for a new account.  You have the option to search and locate your business name and if not listed, click on the “Add your Business to Google” option. Then follow the steps that you are taken through in order to get more information about your business. It will ask for the category, location address, phone number, website, etc.  For your business’s Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) ensure that it is relevant across all citations and directories. Copy and paste this information so that everything lines up according to “Street vs. St.” or “New York vs. NY” etc.

When it comes to categories there will only be one main service category to choose from a list of Google’s set categories. However, in addition to the main category, you can add more information in the additional subcategories and in the description section. This section allows for 750 characters of quality information about your business.  Using keywords that are relevant to your local area and business products or services will help you rank higher in the local map listings.

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Google Map Verification

Verification can be done via mail or in some cases phone or text messages where you receive a phone call to your business’s local number that is listed.

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If your verification is done via mail, once you receive the postcard from Google you will take the code that is inside and enter it into the verification box in your Google My Business listing. It will then take from 24-48 hours to verify your listing on Google. It will need to be verified in order to show in the feed.

You can look up your business to see if it is claimed. If it is not you will want to claim it. Search your business and in the results look directly to the right of the “Suggest an edit” link, and if you don’t see a second link called “Own this business?” then your GMB listing is verified. If you see that second link “Own this business?”, then your Google Listing is not verified in Google Maps.

Read More: Social Media Strategies For Restaurants

Location Authority

If your business is still not showing it may be because it lacks location authority.  In order to achieve more authority on your business listings, you can do a few things to keep your rankings up:

  1. Add more keywords that describe your products and services. Most people do not necessarily search for your business, they are searching for their needs so by adding keywords that will be searched for you can increase your chance of ranking for those search queries.
  2. Do not use a tracked phone number if possible as you will likely get a Toll Free number and Google prefers local numbers versus 1-800 numbers that are typically used for spam.
  3. Add photos to your profile. Listings that do not have a photo will only show a generic map photo.
  4.  Keep business hours updated. A business that is open is best!
  5. Use Schema Markup with your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number). Schema language adopted Google, Yahoo, and Bing make it easier to determine certain data sets within web pages.  It basically creates an enhanced description for search engines so it is a heck of a lot more desirable for search engines to find your business.  It is also known as direct data and can majorly help with local SEO. By wrapping your NAP in Schema, you can send notify Google and other search engines about the relevance and authority of your business.
  6. Add Your NAP to the Meta Data of your home page. Since you will have your website attached to your Google Maps listing your listing Google will also be looking at your site. In the back end of your homepage if you have a plugin such as Yoast SEO enabled you can add your Business Name, Category of Services, and of course city, address, and phone number.
  7. Ask for Google Reviews.

Google Reviews

Google favors listings with 5-star reviews. It also shows trustworthiness when it comes to the products or services that you provide.  Once your Google My Business account is verified and your Map is visible in local listings you can start to ask for Google Reviews. Reviews help your local maps listings rank above others in addition to a properly completed profile.

Getting reviews from customers can be tricky. Make sure to obtain the link to your Google Review Form and go to your Google Maps listing. Click “more information” and copy the direct link you find there. Share this link via social media and email to encourage reviews.

When emailing customers about their experience with a business I like to add a blurb about their service that gives the option of positive or negative feedback.  Positive feedback leads to the Google Review Page. Negative reviews lead to a contact page or an email to make further inquiries or discuss the situation. This keeps an unhappy customer from heading to your review page and offline.

It is important to know that if you have a new business and a new listing that it will take time overall. These tactics, however, can help the speed of the process and have your business listed within the map results.  If you have any questions or know of any tactics that have helped you with your Google Listing, leave a comment in the section below!

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How to prioritize local SEO with Google Maps