Posted on 24/04/2023 by Melanie Comerford

How to Rank Higher on Google Maps

In the age of digital dominance, local businesses are fighting for attention in the ever-expanding online marketplace. While traditional advertising methods still hold value, there’s one thing that has become an essential battleground for local visibility and customer acquisition: Google Maps. With its widespread adoption and seamless integration into everyday life, Google Maps has transformed from a simple navigation tool to a thriving platform for businesses to thrive.

So, why should you care about ranking in Google Maps? The answer is simple: visibility and opportunity. When potential customers search for products or services in their area, Google Maps is often their go-to resource for finding local options. And as Google Maps continues to evolve and integrate more deeply into the search experience, securing a top-ranking position becomes paramount for businesses striving to connect with local audiences and drive foot traffic or online conversions.

In this blog, we delve into the reasons why you need to care about ranking in Google Maps. We explore the pivotal role it plays in local search visibility, customer trust, and brand authority. Additionally, we’ll uncover the key benefits and opportunities that come with securing a coveted spot in the Google Maps rankings.

What is Google Maps?

Google Maps is a web-based mapping service provided by Google. It offers detailed maps and satellite imagery of locations around the world, along with various features such as street view, real-time traffic updates, and turn-by-turn navigation. Initially launched in 2005, Google Maps has evolved significantly over the years and has become an essential tool for both individuals and businesses.

A person looking at directions on google maps

In terms of evolution, Google Maps started as a simple mapping service that allowed users to search for locations and get directions. Over time, Google introduced new features and enhancements to improve its functionality and user experience. Some notable milestones in the evolution of Google Maps include the introduction of Street View in 2007, which provides a 360-degree street-level view of locations, and the integration of real-time traffic data to help users navigate efficiently. Google also expanded its mapping service to mobile devices with the release of Google Maps for Mobile, making it accessible on smartphones and tablets.

In terms of SEO, Google Maps plays a crucial role in local search rankings. When users search for businesses or services in a specific location, Google often displays a “Local Pack” at the top of the search results, showcasing a map with three local businesses and their details. This prime visibility in the Local Pack can significantly impact a business’s online visibility and organic traffic.

Why is Google Maps Important for SEO?

Having a presence on Google Maps enables potential customers to get details about your business fast and effortlessly whilst they search for potential solutions online. Google Maps is highly important due to its impact on local search visibility and online presence. Being listed on Google Maps increases the chances of appearing in the local three-pack and attracting organic traffic to your business. 

It also helps establish credibility by displaying essential business information and customer reviews. Consistent NAP information across various directories, including Google Maps, strengthens local SEO signals. 

Positive reviews and high ratings on Google Maps can also improve search rankings and consumer trust. More crucially though, as mobile and voice search usage continues to rise, optimising your Google Maps presence becomes crucial for reaching on-the-go users. By leveraging Google Maps effectively, you can enhance your local search visibility, attract more customers, and improve your overall SEO performance.

Search is Increasingly Local and Mobile-Dominated

The eCommerce boom has, for some, negated the importance of a business location. When you can order and have products delivered anywhere in the world, does it matter where your business is located?

In short, yes and no. While many aspects of business can be coordinated online such as shipping and operations, locality still matters for many enterprises. This is especially true for those that offer or benefit from a local service such as restaurants or personal consulting firms.

Consider this: with every year that passes, mobile traffic makes up a larger slice of the overall pie. Trends suggest that around 60% of Google searches now come from mobile devices.

We rely on our smartphones and high-speed 24/7 data connections so much that our expectations have fundamentally shifted — moving away from clunky generic desktop searches and towards personalised and customised mobile experiences.

And since Google noted a while back that nearly half of the mobile searches have local intent, simply rolling with these figures leads you to the conclusion that close to a fifth of all Google searches are location-specific mobile queries.

a man using google maps on his smartphone

This is a significant portion of the whole, but that’s not the only reason why you should care about local rankings: you also need to be aware of how powerfully actionable a local search can be.

Think about the varying significance of a search string like “best ice cream” in mobile and non-mobile scenarios. Someone searching on a desktop computer is more likely to simply be conducting research with the intention of perhaps buying some ice cream at a later point.

However, someone searching on a mobile device is more likely to be interested in buying some ice cream imminently from a nearby store. If you cater to the latter, you’ll benefit significantly.

Local Competition is Often Beatable

We looked at a generic search string in two scenarios, but let’s now look at location-specific searches (and factor in the extent to which Google will weight results based on local elements).

Something generic without any local indicators is going to be extremely difficult to rank for because you’ll be competing with businesses from anywhere and everywhere — including the biggest brands around.

But then think about a generic query plus a locational modifier. Instead of “best ice cream”, what about “best ice cream in Manchester”? That will significantly cut down on the results, and start to reward the sites that tailor their content for Manchester in particular.

If you have a physical store, you have the local credibility to target this kind of query, so be sure to use it.

The Cost of the Improvement is Typically Low

After considering various aspects of local Google Maps rankings, you may still think that they are not as valuable as regular rankings. While it’s true that local rankings differ in importance, the key differentiating factor lies in the cost of improvement. This is where pursuing local Google Maps rankings truly shines, as it offers significant advantages at a fraction of the investment required for general SEO.

When it comes to general SEO, the landscape is complex and ever-evolving, requiring ongoing efforts and consideration of countless intricate elements. The long-term commitment and resources involved can be a drain on your team. However, local rankings present a different scenario. With a lower ceiling of complexity, you can effectively maximise your SEO efforts without breaking the bank. 

This low-cost nature of optimising local rankings is precisely what makes it a strategy that simply cannot be ignored. Investing in local SEO is a smart move that allows you to achieve substantial results without a significant burden on your resources. By focusing on local rankings, you can leverage the power of Google Maps to reach your target audience and drive valuable traffic to your business.

While general rankings hold their own importance, neglecting the potential of local rankings would be a missed opportunity. The cost-effectiveness of local SEO means that you can allocate resources strategically, maximising your return on investment and reaping the benefits of increased visibility within your local community.

How to Start Ranking on Google Maps

Google introduced a feature called Google MyBusiness and with this feature, you can add your location on the map to make it easier for people to find you. It also helps people with local intent find you too. To start ranking you should complete these next steps.

1. Start Adding Local Keywords

As well as including place names in your copy and titles, think about any slang terms that might be relevant to your area. Is there something notable about the way people phrase things near you? You might find that an aspect of the local dialect causes people to search for slightly different terms —- terms that you could easily rank for.

2. Register on Google Business Profiles

Setting up a new Google Business Profile is relatively straightforward but if you need an extra hand, check out our guide to Setting Up a Google Business Profile. The only practical step will involve verifying the location of your premises. Once you’ve fleshed out your profile and added some images and contact details, you’ll essentially be done with this part. 

3. Make Your Location Clear on Your Website

If someone finds your business through a local search and visits your website for some details, they’ll want to find some confirmation that they’re in the right place.

Beyond these, you can also start engaging with your local community on social media to encourage people to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile listing.

The more positive social proof you can provide, the more likely people will be to choose your business, and the better your ranking will ultimately become. It’s a powerful loop, so make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.

SEO Services at Loop Digital

We provide all types of SEO services from running national campaigns to building your local presence. We are able to put a campaign in place to allow your website to start climbing the rankings. For more information about how our SEO experts can support your business, get in touch with our team or claim your Free SEO Audit today.

Mel is our Partner Strategy & Delivery Manager and also a CIM Chartered Marketer, a testament to her commitment to excellence in the field. But Mel’s contributions don’t stop at the office door. Beyond her professional endeavours, she leads an active life as a qualified run leader and dedicated volunteer. Her experience in these roles has streamlined her leadership and teamwork skills, making her an invaluable asset when it comes to collaborating on projects and ensuring their success. Her sharp insights, strategic thinking, and knowledge have made her a backbone in our team’s ability to drive results for clients in this industry. Mel will make sure that we can approach marketing challenges from all angles and deliver outstanding results for our clients.

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