This is especially true ever since Google released the pigeon algorithpigeon algorithm update in July of 2014. This update gave first preference positions to listings like Yelp and other local directory sites. Because of that, Yelp now ranks above most local listings in local SERPs.
For example, if you search Google for a local listing (Oakland bakeries, for example) you have to scroll past three map listings and four organic listings before coming to the first local business listing.
Very few customers are going to scroll down to slot 7 or 8 before deciding on a bakery and, as such, it behooves businesses to optimize their map listings to show up in the top few slots of a local search query.
- Get on to Google My Business
One of the biggest steps you can take toward map listing prowess is to set up a Google My Business account. This service allows you to create listings or claim listings that have already been made. It is one of the best way for brick and mortar businesses to ensure that their web listings are complete and accurate and, best of all, the service is free to use.
- Start Using Yelp
Create or claim your business listing with Yelp and update your information, if needed, to ensure that it’s current. Once you’ve done that, you can use Yelp to respond to online reviews, upload photos related to your business and keep your information accurate and up to date. Since Yelp s the most popular customer review site on the web, it’s wise for companies that want to appear in Google maps listings to start using it as early as possible.
- Categorize Yourself Correctly
Google Map listings are designed to help Google users find exactly the type of business they want, so ensure that you’re categorizing yourself correctly. Choose specific categories rather than general ones (“used book store” vs. “book store” for example) and ensure that you categorize each of your businesses individually for maximum search visibility.
- Get Customer Reviews
An ample number of customer reviews will help you stand out from the crowd and rank higher in local SERPs and Map listings. For this reason, it’s important to gather as many reviews as possible. Consider offering customers a small incentive to write reviews for you or simply putting out the call for customers to review your services. Keep in mind, however, that Yelp and many other review sites discourage activity that could be interpreted as solicitation, so it may be wise to just provide great customer service and wait for the reviews to roll in naturally. Consult your review platform of choice to be sure.
- Optimize Listings with Great Descriptions
Once you’ve gone to all of the trouble of ensuring that you actually show up online, you want the content that does show up to be the best stuff you have to offer. With this in mind, ensure that you write a great business description that draws people in and makes them want to visit your company. Your description should give customers an accurate picture of who your company is and what you do while also including your value propositions and targeted keywords. Beef up your description by including your location somewhere within it in order to ensure that it stands a better chance of ranking for local search results.
- Include Great Photos
A digital marketing firm released a study that looked at eye movements in people searching Google Maps listings. The study found that, while people initially read the text of maps listings, they quickly switched over to exclusively viewing the image on the right-hand side of the screen next to the listings. With that in mind, it’s obvious that it is very important to include high-quality photos to accompany your listing. The photos should reflect your business and should showcase something that you do exceptionally well. If you were a baker, for example, you may choose to include a photo of your bakery’s delicious and attractive cupcakes. Keep in mind that you should always aim to include the highest quality images that you can in order to draw the most viewer attention.
Thanks to the recent Google algorithm changes and the increasing difficulty of obtaining top local SERP spots, businesses everywhere are vying for the top ranking in Google Maps listings. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ensure that your company’s listing finds its way to the top and stays there. By focusing on the ranking and SEO factors that take a Maps listing from good to great, you can ensure that your company gains notoriety and makes a name for itself in local SERPs.
To learn more about ranking for Google Maps listings, visit Bigfoot Media. Bigfoot Media is here for all of your digital marketing needs and would love to help your business create a game-winning strategy. Call us today for a FREE consultation or shoot us a quick email to learn more.
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