Why is Google Maps SEO important? If you own a small business in the 21st century, you should care about Google. There are, after all, billions of Google searches every day, and the company dominates the online search market.
Over 92% of online searches are done using Google, so for businesses trying to reach the most customers, it’s important to optimize for Google’s search engine. One of the best ways in which to do this is by looking at Google Maps SEO.
You can attract potential customers near you by creating a Google My Business (GMB) listing and adhering to Google Maps SEO best practices. To do that, it’s important to understand how to get your GBM listing and how Google ranks local businesses in search results.
Helping Your Customers Find You
Google Maps is the most frequently downloaded map and navigation app in the U.S. — it was downloaded more than 25 million times in 2021. It helps businesses inform the casual user of a Google search not only that their business operates in the area, but it shows exactly where they are physically located.
If your business is not on Google Maps, you are not on the radar of many potential customers. If your business has a GMB listing, however, you are ranked and perhaps rated there. Both your GMB ranking and your GMB rating will be a crucial nugget of information for customers, some of whom are already in their cars and just about to make a choice of where to drive and with whom to do business. After all, a lot of decision-making happens exactly that way.
The Growth of “Near Me” Searches
As of March 2019, mobile searches including the terms “on sale + near me” increased by 250% over each of the preceding two years. Such growth in “Near Me” searching has allowed Google to customize search results and rankings with greater precision.
For example, when looking for a dry cleaner, a customer might Google “Dry cleaners near me,” without bothering to include a location as part of their search. The result is a customized map with a curated selection of local businesses.
Get Your GMB Listing
To increase search visibility and appear as one of the selected businesses in a local search, you’ll start by adding your business to Google’s knowledge base. To create your GMB listing, you should:
- Visit the Google My Business homepage.
- Click the “Manage now” button and follow the instructions. Be patient, there are a lot of steps to Google’s form.
- You will be prompted to list your address. To prevent fraud, Google will mail a verification postcard to the address listed. Most postcards arrive within 14 days. Admittingly, the postcard might seem like spam at first glance, so make sure to inform the person who sorts through the mail that a Google postcard is on the way.
- After you get your postcard, log into your business account and enter the five-digit verification code listed on the letter.
- From here, you’ll be able to add business hours, photos, posts, and more.
By following these simple steps, your business profile will be visible to users on Google Search and Maps. Keep in mind, however, that just because you have a GMB listing, you’re not guaranteed to rank on the first page — especially in highly competitive environments.
How Does the Ranking Work?
To best explain how Google Maps ranking works, let’s use a local dry cleaner as an example. In Austin, Google Maps discloses, that there is Reid’s Cleaners & Laundry near Mayfield Park, to which Google has awarded 4.4 stars (out of five).
The rating is the average number of stars given to Reid’s Cleaners & Laundry by patrons. The business’s ranking is its position on a list of local dry cleaners and determines whether or not it appears on the first page. Google Maps SEO rankings are important, as casual searchers are not likely to scroll down far or click on the second page of search results. When it comes to rating and ranking, corporate SEO services concern themselves with both.
Looking at the ranking specifically, this is customized to a particular search from a given device and location. A local ranking is based on three factors:
For example, Google’s algorithms may determine that a business somewhat farther away from a querying customer is more likely to have what that customer is looking for than a closer business. Relevance may trump distance, so the farther business may rank higher in local results.
A business’s prominence is based on information that Google has gathered from links, articles, directories, and other sources around the web. In general, the more networked you are with your business peers — who are also on Google’s radar — the more prominent you will be.
How To Improve Your Ranking on Google Maps
Although you can’t do much about how distant from you the prospective customers are when they perform “Near Me” searches, you can apply Google Maps SEO tactics to impact the other main factors in a high Google ranking.
Whether your product is relevant depends on how carefully you have defined it in your listing. A digital marketing agency like Motoza can help you rework your listing to improve your relevance for customers that use Google’s local search feature.
If you are in direct competition with Reid’s Cleaners, for example, you might want to focus your efforts not merely on ranking (appearing ahead of their listing), but you may also want to get more reviews of your business in the hopes of outperforming their 4.4 stars.
Your business’s rating will depend entirely on customer reviews. Notoriously, customers who are unhappy with their experiences are more likely to leave an unprompted review than satisfied customers. A business that is wise in the ways of Google Maps SEO will work to maximize the feedback from happy customers.
If you’re a B2C company with an e-commerce component, you may simply follow up transactions with an email that includes a review link.
If you run a B2B entity, a more personal approach is available. You should see to it that your account teams are well aware of the significance of online reviews from customers. You can directly ask your clients for a review, and there’s a higher likelihood of personal contacts leaving positive reviews when you have an established relationship.
Take Your Listing to the Next Step
Instead of wasting resources marketing to everyone, focus your efforts on Google Maps SEO. We’re here to help you increase leads with optimized local search marketing. is a provider of enterprise SEO services based in Austin, Texas with a user focus, offering quality techniques aimed at stable long-term results. Request a free consultation today.