The Crazy Importance of Google Maps

One of the most reliable ways to generate leads for your local business is through online presence, specifically Google Maps.

For those that don’t know, when you search a term with ‘local intent’, Google serves up a map with 7 businesses listed on it, A through G, and their address, phone number and website, including any reviews.

Getting into (and on top of) this ‘Google 7 Pack’ has long been the goal of many SEO and local marketing campaigns. There are over 200 signals that Google considers when selecting the businesses that will fall into this group, and these change every year.

The only way we even know what the signals are is from testing and surveying end-user clients, Google will not tell us directly.

The cool part about the maps rankings is that the rankings do not fluctuate as much as the organic rankings for a website. Also, people use these much more often for contacting businesses because they include all of the relevant information needed to hire a business or inquire about pricing.

There are so, so, so many factors that contribute to your rank, how can you focus on them all? What are the trends? Where should I put my attention?

The easiest answer is to hire someone to take care of all of this for you, because of the changing nature of the business. But, you can also do a lot of it yourself if you’re willing to do the work.

Moz publishes a fantastic resource for the ranking signals every year. This is invaluable. Get it here.

A few things you can do.

  1. Get more accurate citations.
    1. Citations are essentially backlinks for maps. This seems to be something that might not carry as much weight in the future, but it still seems to push business pages upwards when more citations are gathered. A citation is a listing somewhere else (Yelp, Citysearch, Manta, YP, etc) that has the EXACT SAME name address and phone number (abbreviated as NAP) as what is on your site. Google recognizes these as validating the information it already has and gives you credit for it. We offer help for this.
    2. This is easy to do, but never spend more than 15 minutes getting a citation. I recommend getting 5-20 per month, because Google also considers the velocity at which these citations are gotten.
    3. If you have more than 1 location, you must do citations FOR EACH LOCATION for Google to rank each location separately.
  1. Get more 4 and 5 star reviews.
    1. Google is increasing their valuation of good reviews, because they know people read them, trust them and make buying decisions based on them. They are also making getting reviews harder, tying your review to your IP, so don’t try and fake reviews because they will get pulled and you will be penalized. For best results, use a review gathering system like we offer at Apex Business Team.
  1. Social Signals are important.
    1. The trend with Google is to give more weight to human factors as opposed to what indexing robots tend to like. This means that followers, retweets, +1s, reblogs and shares are all telling Google that your business has relevant information that is valuable to your audience. This means you must create content that is useful, not just purely for SEO purposes like the old days. You can’t fake this stuff, it has to be genuine and it has to be high-quality. Creating genuinely valuable content is not easy, but we do offer a solution for you in case you want to hand this off as well.

In addition to the positive ranking factors, there are hundreds of negative ranking factors. I’m going to give you the top 16. For more, please visit the Moz link.

1 Listing detected at false business location

2 Incorrect business category

3 Mis-match NAP / Tracking Phone Numbers Across Data Ecosystem

4 Mis-match NAP / Tracking Phone Number on My Business Landing Page

5 Mis-match Address on My Business Landing Page

6 Presence of malware on site

7 Keyword stuffing in business name

8 Reports of Violations on your My Business page

9 Presence of Multiple My Business Pages with Same Phone Number

10 Absence of Crawlable NAP on Location Landing Page

11 Absence of Crawlable NAP on Website

12 Association of Google My Business account with other suppressed listings

13 Presence of Multiple My Business Pages with Same/Similar Business Title and Address

14 Incorrectly placing your map marker

15 Address includes suite number similar to UPS Mail Store addresses

16 Listing 800 Number as Only Phone Number on My Business Page

If you have any questions, please let me know. I hope this has been helpful.

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