When prospective customers search for a business, they will likely use Google. When looking for local businesses near them, they often turn to Google maps. This is why creating a Google maps marketing strategy is critical for the success of your local business.
Not only does Google maps act as a search engine, but it also directs customers to the front door of your business when you are one of the top search results related to the user’s search. Let’s talk about how you can increase your visibility and be your customers’ first choice on Google Maps.
What is Google Maps marketing?
Google maps marketing is as simple as optimizing your presence on Google Maps so that you will rank higher in search and gain more customers. The more your business is optimized on Google Maps, the more likely you are to be discovered by potential customers.
This is important for small and big businesses alike, but it is critical for local businesses. The search term “near me” is often used when searching for a business or product on Google maps.
The businesses closest to the customer and most relevant to what they are searching for will be among the top recommendations by Google and the most likely to be found by that customer. This is why optimizing your local business on Google Maps is essential.
Why Google Maps matters
Google Maps matters for a straightforward reason: it’s one of the most popular ways for new customers to discover your business.
When you do a “near me” search for local businesses, you’ll see results like these.
With mobile search becoming more and more prevalent, these types of searches are becoming more and more common.
Google ranks businesses on Google Maps based on three factors: distance, relevance, and prominence.
- Distance: This metric takes into account how close a potential search result is in comparison to the location of a search term from a user on Google Maps. If your business is one of the closest to a potential customer, you have a higher chance of showing up on Google Maps.
- Relevance: This refers to how closely related a local business profile is to the search term entered by the user on Google. The more detailed and accurate information you can provide to Google, the more likely your business will show up on Google Maps for your industry’s related search terms.
- Prominence: This simply depends on how well known a business is. For example, certain landmark destinations like museums are likely to have a high prominence on Google maps. It can also be affected by information gathered by Google like articles, links, and positive reviews.
Claim your Google Business Profile
The first step to marketing your business on Google Maps is setting up and optimizing your Google Business profile. Your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) controls how you appear to prospective customers on Google Maps. Your profile is free to claim and register.
To start, claim your Google Business Profile profile if you haven’t done so already. Most existing businesses already have a Google Business Profile. Go ahead and follow a step-by-step process to claim your Google Business Profile.
Having a Google Business Profile profile will help your business get discovered by more customers. According to Moz, Google Business Profile is the #1 factor determining your local search ranking. You have a significantly higher chance of ranking at the top of search results by claiming your profile and adding relevant information.
How to optimize your Google Business Profile listing
Remember, the more information you provide on your Google My Business listing, the better chance you have of ranking higher on search.
The key here is to keep in mind the three main factors of distance, relevance, and prominence. Here’s some business information that can help you with these three factors.
Add an accurate business description
Google allows businesses to give short descriptions of businesses that are 750 characters or less. This is a great opportunity to give customers and potential customers relevant information about your business.
Try not to stuff a bunch of keywords into your business description, but make sure that you’re giving your customers relevant information about your services. This is the place to tell customers who you are as a local business.
Remember, one of the three factors that Google ranks your business on is “relevance”. That makes it important that you’re claiming all the relevant categories for your business.
At this point, you can add up to 10 categories, with the initial category having the greatest influence on your potential rankings. Then, you can add more categories based on your business’ important search phrases and categories your competitors are using.
So, if you are a local dentist, your primary Google Business profile category might be “dental clinic.” But, maybe a nearby competitor is well-known for their dental implants – a service you also provide. You could include “dental implants periodontist” as another category to increase your visibility for that service and compete with nearby dental clinics too.
Include high-definition photos
Customers form first impressions of your business based on your Google Business Profile profile. Make sure that their first impression isn’t a badly-lighted picture of a blurry storefront. According to Google, businesses with photos get 35% more clicks to their website.
With a third-party app, you can also add metadata to your photos. This information will help Google’s bots “read” your photos and help visually impaired customers know what is in your image. Here you can add relevant information about the services that your business provides.
Increase visibility with Google Maps marketing reviews
- Collect authentic customer reviews
Remember, Google trusts reviews. The more reviews you have, the better chance you can collect customer reviews and bolster your prominence on Google Maps.
So here are a few tips to help you get started collecting reviews:
Send review requests via text or email
Chances are that you have a lot of customers out there who would be more than happy to leave a review. The only problem is that most of them aren’t going to be proactive and try to find your profile on review sites. By sending review requests via text and email, you can make the process easy for your customers.
Send review requests to all of your customers
More reviews are always better, so be sure to send review requests to all of your customers. Chances are that you might get a few negative reviews. That’s nothing to worry about. A few negative reviews can convince potential customers that all of your reviews are authentic.
Claim your Google Business Profile shortlink
While reviews from industry specific review sites like Avvo or TripAdvisor are important, Google prioritizes the reviews posted on its platform. So, when you’re sending review request texts and emails, you can include your own custom GMB short review link to get Google reviews. Here’s a guide to claiming your short review link. But, with Birdeye, you actually don’t have to do this. Our integration with Google, easily sends your customers straight to Google from the review request email or text.
2. Respond to customer reviews
Remember, the story isn’t over when the customer has written the review. Make sure to respond to all of your customer reviews.
While responding to reviews helps you to build customer loyalty, it can also help you turn users into loyal customers. Google has confirmed that responding to customer reviews leads to a higher ranking on search and Maps.
Want to know how you can start responding to both positive and negative reviews? Download our free guide “Review Response Templates”.
3. Use Google Business Profile posts
Google Business Profile gives you the option to make posts. These posts are temporary updates that will appear on your Google Business Profile for seven days.
These posts are a great way to promote time-sensitive information. Google Business Profile Posts is an easy way to share discounts, promote upcoming events and news about your business.
4. Keep track of Google insights
Google Business Profile provides you with insights that tell you how your business is performing in important metrics like direction requests, times for phone calls, and how many customers have seen your listing information. You can use this information to see how customers interact with your business.
5. Paid advertising on Google Maps
If you’re willing to spend, paid advertising on Google Maps can help get your business more visibility. Local search ads help your business appear on Google Maps more often. You’ll be required to pay every time a potential customer clicks on your ad.
How Birdeye Can Help
Remember, reviews are one of the most important factors determining your brand’s prominence on Google Maps. But, keeping track of your online reviews is hard to do manually. Business owners typically don’t have time to send review request texts and emails every day and respond to reviews across hundreds of sites.
Luckily, Birdeye can help. With Birdeye’s all-in-one reviews platform, you can automatically send review requests to all of your customers. This gives you the opportunity to garner more authentic reviews from your satisfied customers and improve your visibility on Google Maps.
Birdeye makes responding to customer reviews easier than ever. You don’t need to switch between Google, Facebook, and the hundreds of other review sites on the Internet. Birdeye aggregates reviews from 150+ sites within its dashboard. When you type a response, it will appear on the site where the review originally appeared.
Try Birdeye, the #1 Review Software
Don’t fall behind on Google reviews. Birdeye gives you all the tools you need to collect authentic reviews and leverage them for growth. More than 80,000 businesses use Birdeye to collect authentic reviews, improve customer experience, and drive revenue.
Originally published Oct 28, 2019 3:55 PM, updated Aug 19, 2022