Surprise, surprise! It’s no shocker that out of all the mapping apps out there — Apple Maps, MapQuest, and others — Google Maps reigns supreme. And not just by a small margin either; by a landslide.
Given its popularity, you’d be smart to think about how a Google Maps marketing strategy could help you grow your business. In the same vein, given its popularity AKA “stiff competition,” you’ll also need to give some thought to the best ways to achieve max visibility in local search results. To help you on both fronts, here’s a little crash course on Google Maps marketing.
Google Maps Marketing: How Can It Serve Your Business?
At the core of this form of marketing is Google My Business (GMB). By creating and strategically beefing up this online business profile, you can enjoy several benefits. These include:
- Additional visibility if you rank well in Google Maps results or, even better, in Google’s Local 3-Pack, which shows potential customers the three most relevant local businesses. It’s free advertising!
- More engagement with potential customers (e.g. more visits to your website, inquiries, etc.).
- The potential for more sales since you’ll have more eyes on your business.
- Differentiation from competitors if your profile ranks above theirs, has a higher rating from customers, and is overall more polished and professional.
- Increased trust and credibility since it’s clear at a glance that you care about your online reputation and, more importantly, about the experiences customers have with you.
In other words, your Google My Business profile is like a 24/7 marketing and salesperson for your business. But for it to be a good 24/7 marketing and salesperson for your business, there are some things you have to do.
The Basics of a Google Maps Marketing Strategy
To have any chance of ranking well in Google Maps results, you must do all of the following.
1. Claim What’s Yours: Your Google My Business Profile
Whether you already have a GMB profile or are planning to create one, be sure that you claim and verify your listing. Verification is a simple process and can be done by mail, phone, and various other methods. No matter how you choose to do it, though, it’ll give you maximum control over your profile and, by extension, the results it gets for your business.
2. Add Your Location Data
In Google My Business, there are two types of location data you’ll need to add. The first is your exact physical location such as a full USPS or postal service approved address. (If you don’t have a physical location that customers can visit you at, you can easily hide your address from the public, while still making the info available to Google so that you’re eligible to be shown in search results.)
The second type of location data encompasses the areas you serve. Specify the cities, states, and/or countries you service customers in to boost your chances of being shown to people in those areas.
3. Provide Other Key Business Info
Besides your address and services areas, you’ll want to provide other crucial information too. Add your full business name, phone number, website, and up-to-date business hours. Not only is this a good idea when you’re trying to rank in search results but it’s also the foundation of good user experience (UX). And good UX is essential if you hope to tip the scales in your favor and motivate more potential customers to contact you.
4. Select the Most Relevant Categories
Categorizing your business gives context to what you have to offer. That way, when consumers search for a local business like yours, Google understands that your profile is relevant and is more likely to display it to potential customers.
In choosing from Google’s list of categories, though, just be sure to select only those that are closely related to what you do. Otherwise, you may find that your GMB profile gets views but not much action beyond that because it’s not what people are looking for. It’s important that your profile gets seen by the right people.
4 Additional Opportunities to Stand Out in Search with a Google Maps Marketing Strategy
Up to this point, we’ve covered the basics, the must-dos for any Google Maps marketing strategy. And while the following methods are just as important for your strategy, unlike the previous four, these provide opportunities to stand out from your competition.
1. Pack a Punch With Your Introduction
At first glance, the introduction of your GMB profile is simply an opportunity to explain what you offer. But, in reality, it’s much more than that. It’s your opportunity to:
- Make a memorable first impression since Google Maps only shows a short snippet of the intro in its results (and that snippet has to be eye-catching enough to get people to click to learn more about business).
- Highlight the value of what you provide instead of just listing what you provide.
- Showcasing what makes your business and offerings different from and/or better than competitors’.
If you can do all of the above, you’ll automatically have a leg up on the competition, many of whom likely have drab intros that aren’t truly dialed into what potential customers want to know.
2. Get Glowing Reviews From Your Customers
Both the number of customer reviews you have on Google and your overall rating can impact your business’s visibility in Google search results. So encourage your customers to leave ratings and reviews, even making this request an official part of your process. As the positive reviews flow in, your chances of dominating Google Maps and enjoying all the benefits that come with it rise.
There’s just one caution: Never resort to paying for 5-star reviews or any other shady tactics to make your business look better in the eyes of Google and potential customers. Not only is it unethical but it will always come back to bite you later, undoing the positive results from your Google Maps marketing efforts.
3. Add Photos, Photos & More Photos
Google reported that businesses with photos added to GMB profiles get 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps and 35% more visits to their websites than those with no pics. Those stats speak for themselves.
If you hope to get meaningful results, sharing photos of your products, past projects, team, and physical location is a must. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to encourage customers to submit their photos as well. Not only will it build credibility and trust with potential customers but it’ll also reduce the pressure for you to produce and upload new pictures constantly.
4. Build High-Quality Links
Another key factor that determines your position in search results is prominence, which encompasses all the information available about your business online and how well you’re doing in terms of search engine optimization.
That said, building high-quality links and citations from relevant websites to yours is a top way to boost your Google Maps rankings and even earn a shot at being featured in Google’s Local 3-Pack.
So look out for and create opportunities to earn mentions and backlinks to your site from:
- Local websites and blogs.
- Sites that are relevant to your industry specifically.
- Popular online directories such as Foursquare.
- Business directories specific to your location, service areas, and/or your industry.
This will help you progressively build authority and signal relevance to Google, which can lead to more visibility in local search results.
5. Spend Some Cash on Google Maps Ads
Although it can be a slow climb, earning a good ranking in Google Maps results purely through organic efforts is often an attainable goal. However, if you have money to spend, you may want to couple your organic efforts with paid Google Maps ads. Doing so will position your business front and center in search results for keywords related to your business and location.
It can provide a quick boost of visibility and traffic while you implement the other methods we’ve covered and wait for them to start taking effect.
Google Maps: A Prime Tool for Local Marketing
When it comes to online and, specifically, local marketing tools that can make a measurable difference for your business, there are few more valuable than Google My Business and Google Maps. Not only can you get your business in front of more eyes but you can encourage and enjoy more interactions with your audience, which means more sales opportunities.
To enjoy those benefits, you’ll need to claim and optimize your profile, making sure to include all relevant business info, a captivating intro to your business, and photos. Not to mention encouraging and replying to customer reviews, building quality links to your website, and even investing in paid Google Maps ads when you have the budget to do so. If you do these things, you’ll be well on your way to gaining more visibility in Google Maps search results.