Why Google Maps Listing ?
Today customers don’t go to market & then search for a particular product or services, they search it on Google first, gather all the information & then go to the market to avail them. So, if your business is not listed on Google, your potential customers won’t be able to find you, & you’ll lose business. It’s a necessity to add your business listing in Google Maps rather than an added advantage. And if your competitors are able to perform it in a better way, no matter how good your product or service you offer or beautiful interiors you have, you will definitely lose most of the new & potential customers to them.
Not only listing your business will drive you new customers, but the second things a customer will check are your ratings & reviews, & if it turns out your reviews are negative, customers are likely to skip & look for an alternative option.
You can for, say if you’re having a restaurant, you can provide a “Reserve a Table” button right on the maps listing that will redirect to the reservations page of your website, so they can reserva a table right from the maps listing.
How to setup your Google My Business Listing ?
Go to Google My Business, sign in to Google, & fill in the information requested by Google with very accurate information. If your business is already listed, you will find an option to claim it as yours. After you submit all details, Google will send you a mail physically to the address provided by you with a code, & you will need to enter that code to verify your business. Time taken to reach the mail depends on your physical location. It will take more time to reach if your provided address is a remote location.
After you’ve requested for the verification, a page comes up showing all the details provided by you & how it will be showing in the listing. You can go around & fill in or edit details you think are important. Go to each of the options in the left menu bar & fill in every detail possible with accurate information.
If your business have other branches, you can go to ‘Add New Location‘ in the left menu & add them one by one.
If you don’t have a website but want one, you can go to ‘Website‘ in the left menu & Google will make a website for you. It will look like this “yourdomain.business.site”. Though you cannot change any appearance settings inside that, you can change your information.
How to Optimize your Google My Business Listing ?
If you have an existing website, optimize it or that particular branch’s webpage with city name, local keywords(including Long Tail & LSI keywords) in Title, Meta, Header, body, alt tags (keywords should be added in a natural way & not forcefully stuffed so that it makes sense while going through).
While adding images remember to rename the file from where you’re uploading with keywords so that Google understand what the image is about. It will show up your business from that image name when a customer searches with that or related keywords.
Schema is helpful in a lot of factors when it comes to search engines & helps them to easily track your business & show them in search results.
You can install Schema in a various way, the most easy being with a plugin if you’re using wordpress. You can just install the plugin, fill in the details & you’re done. One such plugin is Schema Pro & many others are available out there.
You can also inject the Schema code in the footer of your website so that you don’t have to enter Schema for every page. For this you can either go to google & search “schema generator for local business” or something similar, click on one of those & enter the details of your business to get the schema code. Next, install a plugin like “Header, Footer & Post Injections” or many other similar plugins available to inject that code into the footer.
Another way to insert the schema code if you’re using wordpress is to go to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets & select text widget in the footer section & insert the schema code & save.
Data highlighter –
Google search for keywords like “best ‘your business category‘ in ‘your city‘”, & you’ll find a lot of directories or websites where you can list your business for free such as Justdial & many others available.
Competitor Analysis – Make a list of your competitors & for each of them google search “competitor’s name” + “part of their address“. This will show many such websites in the search results where they’ve done citations, & you can list your business too in those platforms, so you kind of imitate their citation strategy. If you aren’t finding such results, then that business must not have done their citations or local SEO well.
Google Alerts – Another way to imitate your competitor’s citation strategy is to put their name, address, phone numbers in Google Alerts so that you get a alert whenever they have cited their details anywhere in the web, & you can cite your business details there too.
You can request your customers to review your business on Google or best would be to take down their phone numbers or E-mail & send them the review link so that they can click on the link & review your business easily. Also encourage your customers to review on other platforms as well where your business is listed as Google sometimes checks those websites & pick up reviews & ratings to show it on the maps listing.
If you’re posting fake reviews by yourself, be sure that you post them from different IPs, & maintain a time gap (like you wrote a lot of fake reviews in a short period of time & then there’s no reviews for a long period of time, Google understands that & may penalize for the same) so that it looks natural.
You can ask your customers to review your business & in return you can offer them, say a discount voucher, some special offer, gift cards or something similar to encourage your customers to give a positive review.
If you fear your customers may give negative reviews, you may introduce a pre review technique where as you may have noticed in many businesses, they first present you with a sort of thing like a happy face, a medium face & a sad face buttons. So, basically they’re not redirecting you to their review system first but getting to know whether you are likely to give them a positive or negative review. If you press the happy button, that means you’re likely to give a positive review & will be redirected to the review system. If you press the sad button, that means you’re likely to give a negative review & will be redirected to a form where you can write about your grievances. Hence in this way they filter the negative reviews from coming in front of the world & also get to know their grievances in a detailed way from their customers.
Backlinking is said to be a major factor in local SEO rankings & I’ve written an separate article on it which you can check out here.
Other factors affecting local SEO
There’re a few other factors that you don’t have much control over such as
Location: Google will show the nearest businesses on top from where it is been searched in maps, so if anyone is searching for the same category business as of yours but is not nearby your establishment, it is not likely to show up in the listing, instead the nearest businesses to them would be shown.
Click through Rate(CTR): It depends on how many people are actually interacting with your business listing i.e. clicking on the directions, call button, clicked on the website, gave a review, against all impressions shown in map listing results.
Recent searches: For example, suppose you’re having a restaurant, & if anyone is searching in maps for the nearest restaurant & your restaurant happens to be the nearest one, but your competitors’ restaurant is a few steps away but has more searches, then it may show that restaurant on top of the search results.
Be sure to check your listing more often as any visitor can edit the information provided by you anytime or provide with wrong information which may negetively affect the business rankings.
So, go ahead & list your business in the Google Maps listing in order to not lose any potential new customers further to your competitors, & as i said its a necessity & not an added advantage. As a global economy, more people from different parts of the world would move around to new places & the most popular way to find any of their needs for any product or services would be to google them, & it’s absolutely necessary not only to be present there but also optimize your business listing to the top to attract these new customers.