What is Google Maps Marketing?
In a nutshell, Google Maps marketing is the process of using Google Maps functionality to make your business easier to find. Although this can be very useful (and expected) for large companies, it’s even more indispensable for smaller businesses.
If you can get your business to show up in the top of the maps area you will generate a significant amount of new customer calls & website visits to your business, instead of your competitors. Here is a screenshot from one of our dental seo clients who is benefiting hugely from Google Maps.
Look at all those potential customers just in the last 30 days:
Google My Business
Formerly known as Google Places, Google My Business enables business owners to claim a listing (aka profile page) for their business that may appear in Google search results.
Virtually any type of business (with the exception of certain more risqué establishments) can claim a Google My Business listing, which will display information that searchers may want to know, such as address, opening hours, phone number, website link, customer reviews, etc.
Google My Business (GMB) is a cornerstone of any successful local seo campaign, and it is critical that you understand how to most effectively optimize your GMB profile for maximum SEO impact.
Hint: keep reading and we will tell you exactly what you need to know… Get excited!
Google Maps – you’ve seen it, you’ve used it, and now you will learn to master it (for the benefit of your business).
Google Maps (https://maps.google.com/) is a web mapping service that helps consumers discover, locate, contact & navigate to businesses and places of interest.
However, Google Maps is not just a standalone web mapping service that helps people from getting lost on their way to their destination, it also takes up a massively prominent area of the organic SERPs for any search query that Google deems encompasses search intent that would warrant showing a local business.
For example, if you type “diy desk ideas” there is really no intent there to talk to a local business, because you are basically asking Google “hey Google, I want to learn how to make a desk at home, can you give me ideas?”
So the SERP you get is much more informational oriented. See:
No need for maps or “local results”. However, what if your search was something like “desk stores near me”. Think that SERP will look a little different?
In this search Google knows the intent of the searcher is to get options of stores where they can to buy a desk, the SERP is has more local results. And look at that “Map Pack” – it takes up the entire top of the page! Extremely valuable real estate.
The Importance of Google Maps Marketing
- 72% оf consumers whо реrfоrm a local based search will vіѕіt a business within 5 miles of them.
- 50% оf consumer searches on Google Maps lеаd tо ѕtоrе vіѕіtѕ wіthіn a day.
- 78% of mоbіlе ѕеаrсhеѕ rеѕult іn аn оfflіnе рurсhаѕе.
- Companies wіth complete & detailed information on their Google Mу Buѕіnеѕѕ profiles are 2x as likely tо bе considered rерutаblе by соnѕumеrѕ.
- Addіng rich media (рhоtоѕ & video) tо уоur GMB lіѕtіng drive 42% more requests for “driving dіrесtіоnѕ”, and 35% more website clicks from Gооglе Mарѕ.
Google Maps Marketing Must-Dos
- GMB Optimization
- On Page Optimization
- Authority, Relevance, Trust
- Off Page Optimization
GMB Optimization for Showing up in Google Maps
Getting up in the maps is hugely dependent on the optimization of your GMB.
After all, this is a public facing “mini website” that is given to you by Google and shown to their customers – they want to make sure you fill it out fully, properly & trustworthy-ly. #notarealword
The Google My Business Optimization Checklist:
- Verified GMB
- URLs – main URL, appointment URL, use UTM parameters if you have multiple GMBs to track where things come from
- Business Category(s) – Primary & Secondary
- Operating Hours
- Business Description – Completely filled out with details & keywords
- Images – Keywords in filenames, geotag, EXIF data, etc.
- Google Website
The beginning of all Google Maps Marketing starts with getting your business a verified Google My Business profile. The best way to verify your Google My Business profile is with a postcard.
Sign up for a GMB by going to business.google.com, and submitting all your information. Google will then ask to ‘verify’ that your business actually exists at the address you entered by sending you a postcard with a 5 digit verification code, looking something like this:
When you get it, simply enter the code on the GMB profile you made, and Voila! you’re now verified (and have the ability to show up on Google Maps).
Proper Website URL Destinations for Google My Business
Specify the URL destinations properly. You have 2 spots – the primary website, and the best place for consumers to contact you. I recommend you use two different URLs here.
The first URL should be the landing page that is most relevant to the business location.
In this example, we are showing our GMB for the SERP Co Seattle location, so we point the GMB to the landing page for SERP Co – Seattle SEO. The second URL, goes to the general/main “Contact” page.
UTM Codes for Tracking Traffic from Google Maps
A UTM code is something you can add to the end of your URL that gives more information to Google Analytics about your website traffic
Primary & Additional Business Categories
You tell Google what your business is all about.
This starts with categorizing your business. Make sure you choose the most relevant Primary Category. You can do this by knowing your business, looking at the category options, and also performing some searches yourself to see what other business are showing up for the keywords you want to be showing up for.
For example, if we Google “seo company los angeles” we will see that all 3 business who are displaying in the organic (aka not-paid) area of Google Maps for this query have designated their Primary Category as “internet marketing service”.
So, if we want to have the Best chance to show up for this keyword search as well it would behoove us to designate our business primary category the same way.
Business Operating Hours
This one is pretty obvious – fill out your business hours completely so consumers (and Google) have an accurate understanding of when you are open.
The business description area is an opportunity for you to succinctly describe (and pitch) your business to potential buyers.
Like all things in SEO, you’ll want to fill this out correctly and completely, using details and keyword variations (both service related, and geo related) to describe your business to consumers, while giving Google nuggets of relevant information you want it to associate with your brand.
Images are huge for local SEO & Google Maps marketing.
Adding images to your GMB helps:
- Give your business more legitimacy, trust & “authority”.
- Take up space on image SERPs.
- Generate impressions & clicks.
- Provides additional opportunities for you to improve the relevance of your business to Google (image filenames, schema, EXIF data, Geotagging, etc.)
Check this out, in the last month alone this GMB generated 100s of image views by customers:
A small, but legitimate win & competitive advantage – give yourself all the advantages you can.
Videos, like images, improve your trust, relevance, authority & web presence.
There are many different types of videos you should add to your Google My Business listing (and have for other digital marketing channels like email, ads, social media, etc.).
These include selfie videos, office tour videos, 360 videos, meet the team videos, etc. We cover all the types of videos you need for your business in depth in our members only group, SERP University (join free).
Your services – these are the lifeblood of your business. Customers have tons of options for solving their problems these days, and to be quite frank – your product may not be unique or special.
However, that doesn’t mean There are not aspects of how you deliver your products and services that set you apart from the competition. After you have identified your Unique Value Propositions (UVP), aka “what makes you different”, Do you want to fully detailed those in the service area.
Use this opportunity to write some unique content about each one of the services you provide, how do you provide it, and most importantly the benefits that a customer will receive from your products and services.
Remember to use SEO keywords, keyword variations & LSIs, long tail keywords, keyword synonyms etc. when talking about your services.
Google gives you the option of generating a free website in a single click. It creates a one-pager with all the information you have added to your GMB profile, which is great.
Pro-tip: Whenever Google gives you the ability to create a web property for free using one of their domains, do it.
Create a free Google business website, and then edit it to drop some links to your website & social properties – lots of good relevance and keywords to be had!
Online Reviews for Google Maps
Reviews are a huge part of local seo. They build trust for consumers, and Google likes seeing that activity as well, as it validates you are in fact a legitimate, active business.
Check out some of these online review stats:
- 91% of millennials trust online reviews as much as friends and family.
- A single business review can lift its conversions by 10%.
- 72% of customers won’t take action before they read some reviews.
So what’s your action plan? Get reviews.
Email all of your previous customers and see if they would write you an honest review of their experience. Remind your new customers that they can leave you a review on Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc. if they would like to share their experience.
Do whatever you gotta do to get those review stars!
On Page Optimization
Now that you have created & optimized your Google Business listing, it’s time to optimize the corresponding landing page. Remember the step about URLs?
Here it is in case you already forgot. The destination of that URL is what we are referring to when we say “landing page”. For most businesses, you will use your homepage as the URL.
However, if you have more than one location (or GMB) you will want to take advantage of local landers (like we did in the example).
- NAP – This stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. Make sure that is is present on the your landing page (and that it exactly matches the information on your GMB).
- Map embed – Get the map embed code from your GMB live listing, and add it to your landing page.
- Driving Directions – Create driving directions in Google My Maps, and embed that on your lander too. You can also get the directions and put the text on your lander as well.
- Interlinks – Interlink your relevant pages together. Add links from relevant blog posts to your landing page. Relevant internal links help Googlebot crawl more easily, and passes link power through your site more freely.
- Relevance – Create as much relevance for your SERVICE and GEO as possible on your local lander. Keep it specific and comprehensive to the service and location you are trying to promote (ie: digital marketing services in los angeles, ca).
- On Page SEO Optimization – Follow proper on page seo optimization best practices to optimize your landing page.
- UR – UR is an acronym for URL Rating, by Ahrefs. It basically calculates how “authoritative” or “powerful” your specific URL is, based on the quantity & quality of backlinks you have. Continually work on link building to improve the UR of your landing page.
Authority, Relevance, Trust
Authority refers to how “powerful” your website is in Google’s mind. Your domain as a whole has authority, called Domain Rating (DR). The individual URL you are trying to rank (remember, “landing page”) also has authority, called URL Rating (UR).
By improving both the DR & UR of your website you will have an easier time showing up in the organic SERPs AND in the Map SERPs. Work on building your DR & UR with link building.
Relevance refers to how closely connected or appropriate you are to the search query being performed by a user. Relevance, like authority, can apply both to your domain as a whole and the individual URL you are trying to rank.
Focus on building relevance by creating content for your website that is relevant to the services you provide. One of the best ways to do this is to write blog content around a specific topic (ie your service page).
Next, add links in the blog posts to the related service. Finally, use outreach link building to acquire links to the blog posts – which will push power from the blog post to the service page. Rinse & repeat this process until you have built enough relevance that your SERP position starts improving.
Prominence is basically Google’s term for popularity. Popularity usually means that a brand has spent significant resources on branding & marketing so consumers are familiar with their product (like Doritos in the Super Bowl, for example).
Google is more likely to rank these businesses with prominence higher in local results, because consumers are more comfortable with brands they know. How do you increase prominence? Well, basically by doing SEO & brand building.
There are alot of brands with very high authority who don’t do SEO simply because their offline strategies have garnered them so much attention (for example, that law firm with billboards and radio jingles you’ve seen & heard the last 10 years – chances are they have pretty good authority even if they neglected SEO).
You don’t need the next smash hit Super Bowl commercial to build prominence, and in reality you aren’t even expected to if you are a small business. Remember, the SERPs are relative.
So if a few legit press releases & community news articles are a big deal in the size of industry & town you’re in that may be all you need to snag those top spots for “dentist near me”.
Proximity to the searcher is definitely an important factor. Google knows people don’t want to travel as far for a gas station as they would for an eye surgery.
So, proximity is industry dependent – but still a factor The type of business you are will determine the proximity filter.
For example, Google knows that consumers will typically not want to drive as far for “coffee near me” as they will for “heart surgeon near me”, simply because one of those isn’t quite as important. I’ll let you guess which one.
Off Page Optimization
Off Page SEO is a huge topic, and we’re not going to cover it entirely in this post, but here is a solid checklist of the things you want to attend to in order to help your business rank in Google Maps:
- Citations – General citations, Aggregators, niche citations, local citations, competitor citations
- Tier 2 Links – Get links to your links
- Google Map Embeds – Get your Google Map embedded on other relevant websites
- Google Driving Directions – Create driving directions and get consumers to request them
For more actionable information about Off Page Optimization for Google Maps Marketing, join SERP University.
Measuring the Success of Your Google Business Marketing
You’ve done all the hard work, and now it’s just about time to bring home the bacon.
But before you kick back and watch your KPIs take off – you gotta make sure you are even tracking them.
Let’s talk about a few quick things you can do to make sure you have enough information to monitor, tweak, improve & track your success with Google Maps.
Google Business Insights
Google My Business insights is a built-in analytics dashboard on your GMB profile that gives you insights about things like:
- Queries used to find your business
- How customers search for your business
- Where customers view your business on Google
- Customer actions
- Directions requests
- Photo views
- Photo quantity
In this post we covered everything you need to know about laying a super solid foundation for your Google Maps Marketing strategy – from creating & optimizing a Google Business profile to the on-page & off-page seo optimizations you’ll want to focus on to get ranked, and even some strategies for tracking your success using UTM codes, GMB insights, and more.