Claiming and filling out your Google Maps Listing is the easy part, but it’s usually not enough when trying to rank within the ultra-competitive Google Maps 7-Box. The last place you want your local business to be listed in is the “More results near…such, such city” which might as well say “More results near invisible city”.
Even if you do manage to get a decent ranking within the 7-Box by only claiming and filling out your listing, don’t hold your breath because soon your local competitors are going to realize that is a prized position to have and will compete aggressively for that slot. They may even hire a local search marketing company like ours to do it for them – then you’d better watch out!
You have to understand that Google does here is very smart. With a similar idea to link building, everything Google does is kinda like a big social popularity contest. Google is always responsible to their users and so they want to serve up the most relevant results to them. As long as Google does a good job at serving up relevant results to users they’ll continue to dominate the search marketplace. So the way Google chooses which G-Map Listings are the most relevant is by which listings have the most activity associated with them via citations, reviews & user content.
Let’s look at why citations, reviews, and user content is the glue that makes your Google Listings stickier.
A citation is where your business name and address are mentioned (or cited) on another website. Citations don’t necessarily have links leading back to a website since many business owners don’t have website(s). Google crawls content across the web and anywhere they find a citation on your business they give you a point. A citation is a mention of your business name, address, & phone number.
I am not positive if some site’s citations carry more weight than others, but my guess is yes. I personally believe that with traditional SEO, not all inbound links are created equal. When it comes to citations the same rules apply. I believe some citations have more weight, that is most likely based on some Google Local algorithm similar to what is called Trust Rank.
Trust Rank simply means some sites carry more authority and trust than others and if you have links or citations coming from these sites, then you are given bonus points which ultimately increase your rankings. So sites like the BBB.org or Wikipedia or Yahoo Directory may have more authority and so Google may give you 2 or 3 points for that. Again, the theme isn’t always about quantity, its also about quality.
There are tons of ways to get citations, from using directories to blogging, having your business listed on your Local Business Association Website, or mentioning your business on your local newspapers website. One great way is to look at your competition’s citations (currently, Google is listing them all) and see if you can get a citation from the same source. If your competition has a citation, then you will most likely be able to gain one from the same source. Use the obvious.
One of the best ways to get a good head start on citations is to submit your business details through Universal Business Listings. For approximately $30 a dollars a year, it’ll hit the top 30 authority directories & data providers like: Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com, infouSA.com, Acxiom and so on. BTW, this service is really only good for USA businesses, if you are in Canada like most of our clients, then it’s not that great of a service. I’ll be sure to put some great citations spots below for Canadians too.
If you can get your business information into these major databases (like Acxiom, Localeze, & infoUSA) which form the foundation of the search engines’ Local indexes and of a variety of second-tier portals as well, you’ll notice a decent amount of citations point back to your G-Maps listing. This can take 2-3 months before your info populates into these verticals so be patient.
The goal with citations is to (obviously) have more than your competition, but much like link building, you want to be consistently dripping in new citations week after week. Build slowly and consistently. Play for the long haul.
For our clients, we have a long list of places to which we can add citations (all discovered from what Google already indexes as a citation) and we have been collecting this list for quite some time and have hundreds of easily accessible places from which to acquire citations from. You want to develop your own swipe list of great citation spots. I will post 200 or more so common citations at the end of this post from where any business should be able to get a citation from. I’ll do this because I’m such a good guy. :) If you know of more great citation spots, why not add them to the comment section below and help the community.
We then drip in these citations consistently over time for our clients, often winning them the number 1 spot within the 7-Box. Don’t go slamming citations. Just like you wouldn’t hammer 1000 links at a site overnight, similar rules apply to getting citations. Think Drip, Drip, Drip.
When working with citations, one of the most important elements is consistency. Your DBA name, address, and/or phone number should never change. If you have different information, it can have the opposite effect you desire with your G-Map Listing. Even if you are thinking of using tracking phone numbers to monitor advertising/marketing efforts, I would highly recommend in this arena that you find another way to measure data if possible. There is an interesting post here about using Tracking Phone Numbers in your Local Search Marketing that would be worthwhile reading. I am a metrics fanatic too, but not having the same information about your business name, address and contact number builds distrust with Google (It would with humans too). Consistency is KEY from your citations.
The Google Maps Listings allows the public to add reviews to your listing. Right now I don’t think Google is looking at the quality of reviews, but they look at the quantity of reviews, so even receiving lots of poor reviews will improve your rankings within the 7-Box (not the obvious goal, but interesting to note).
There have been some recent speculations that Google may put more weight on Power Reviewers sometimes known as Maven Reviewers. These are individuals who have full-fledge profiles and leave lots of reviews across multiple categories of business. Just as there are power bloggers, there are power reviewers and getting a review from a power reviewer may just carry more weight. When dealing with power bloggers & reviewers, approach them the same way you’d approach Oprah. Send them a free sample and press release to entice them to leave you a review.
From my testing, loads of reviews can outrank a competitor with lots of citations. Therefore, I say that reviews hold some serious weight to your G-Maps rankings. The Google Maps will even snag reviews from other authority sites and populate them into the G-Map listings.
NOTE: This only holds true if your reviews are current. Having 200 reviews and having the last one post over a year ago will not help you anymore. Not good for the algorithm and not good for humans. Make sure you are getting constant stream of fresh reviews on your Google Maps Listing and other authority reviews sites.
Some common authority review sites from which you may want to focus on getting reviews from besides Google Maps are: Yelp, JudyBook, Yellowbot, Cityvoter, Citysearch, Yellowpages, Kudzu, etc. You may also want to look at finding authority review sites that are related to your category of business like Rate MDs for Doctors and Homestars for the Home Improvement Contractors. Pay attention to what authority reviews sites Google is citing from in your niche’s industry, whatever they are citing then make sure your info is up-to-date at that site and that you are actively pursuing reviews there too.
Review management (also known as Brand Management) is a very real challenge for all businesses in today’s marketplace. Users can easily jump online and add their opinions (good or bad) to tons and tons of review sites about your business. What we recommend is that you find creative incentives to barter for reviews from your clients. On almost all of our client’s regional sites, we trade discounts/coupons for reviews in Google Maps. Getting reviews is ALL about creating a ethical bribe. We also create a video showing people how easy it is to post a review and if they do we offer BIG discount or coupon that will be mailed to them or emailed them privately after the review is verified. The strategy works great!
I’ve seen some companies who have gone as far as to hire employees with laptop computers and their sole job is to ask customers before leaving if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review on a particular a site and by doing so they receive a special gift (usually a gift card or coupon redeemable on their next visit – you want them to have an additional reason to return, don’t you…?) The point being is you need to have an active and creative way to acquire online reviews for your local business.
Our company offers another review management solution (besides the online incentives) to our customers. We use an offline to online approach to helping our clients get loads of reviews for their businesses.
What we do is supply our clients with a 4 X 6 postcard that asks people to write a review about the business from which they just received products and/or services from. Our clients make sure they put a pre-paid postage stamp on the postcard and ask the customer for a review after services have been rendered. They let the customer know they use a third-party service to learn how they can improve their services and it would be really helpful if the customer could take 60 seconds to leave an anonymous review on the postcard and stick it in the mailbox.
NOTE: Don’t forget to add a disclaimer on the postcard that notifies your customers that the review may be used for marketing purposes or posted online.
Well, the postcard comes to our P.O. Box and we have our team post that review online with one of our many maven reviewer profiles for that anonymous reviewer. We add the review to Google Maps or to some of the other major authority review sites that Google tends to pull data from.
We allow for each of our clients to get between 4-7 reviews a month (depending what is normal amount of reviews to get for their particular local niche): any more (in our opinion) would be unnatural. If our clients use this to its maximum benefit that is 40-70 reviews every year. Now that is what you call actively managing your brand and online reviews. It’s one of the best ways to drive traffic and help convert online searchers into offline buyers.
You see, we understand that it’s very difficult to get people to review your business online because of the multiple steps involved to get a review. We recommend you come up with some sort of offline to online review management strategy like ours for your business. We do want to warn you though, of the potential risks involved with this strategy.
First off, don’t add fake reviews!
Some people ask if we edit the reviews. The answer is… we DO NOT alter the reviews from the postcards. We believe having some poor reviews is natural and it wouldn’t appear normal to only have 5 out of 5 stars all the time. If fact, Matt McGee even thinks Negative Reviews are good for business and we agree with him.
What you want to do is create a strategy that makes it easy for your customers to review online. Don’t spam and keep it real. People can always tell when someone is creating unnatural reviews. The reason our system works is because they are REAL reviews, we just facilitate them getting online.
Writing made-up reviews about your business will not help you. Be very, very careful with this strategy and do not get spammy. You can always tell when they are made-up and eventually someone will catch you and call you on it. It could even cost loads of cash. If you need to resort to fake reviews, then you should rethink why you are in business. If your business provides real value and you take an active role in asking for reviews, you can easily get them.
If you do employ an offline strategy like ours, don’t do stupid things like post reviews under your business profile & post multiple reviews in the same day. Remember, even though you are facilitating your customer’s reviews to getting online, it still has to appear natural. Otherwise, this strategy can backfire in your face.
User content is generated when people create their own Google “My Maps” where they create a unique (sometimes personalized) list on Google Maps. Anyone can tag a place or location on Google Maps. The more people that tag your business on G-Maps, the more activity you have about your business and again the more popular your business must be (or this is at least how Google thinks).
Therefore, having more references in people’s “My Maps” will give your listing a boost in rankings in the 7-Box. I have written a post in the past on how to use Google’s “My Maps” to market your business. Creating some user content on G-Maps is easy and quick. Create some useful content driven “My Maps” about your city and remember to find creative ways to tag your company. Or run a local contest that involves “My Maps” and get dozens of people adding your business to their own personal G-Maps. The ways to accomplish this are endless if you are a little creative and think about how you can add value.
Well, that pretty much wraps up how to improve your rankings within the Google Maps Listings. Most of this is obvious if you study the G-Maps a little closer and read between the lines. If you follow the advice listed above and actively manage your Google Maps Listing, you can easily achieve those preferred rankings for your local business in the 7-Box.
If you like what you have learned here, but know you are the type of business owner who would prefer if the PROS managed your listings, then please visit our Local Search Engine Marketing Services page.
NOTE: We only take on 1 client per business category per city, so if you are considering using us, please take action sooner than later. We’d hate to tell you we can’t help you due to us helping your competition already. The early bird gets the worm!
BTW, let us know your thoughts and let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below.
- Create a few site using Google Sites
- Yahoo Answers
USA (Update provided by Whitespark’s Citation Finder, shows top 200 citations sources based on AC & SEOmoz Rank)
url ac_rank moz_rank
http://www.merchantcircle.com/ 10 83.37654108
http://www.superpages.com/ 12 88.1699016
http://phones.whitepages.com/ 7 82.37751899
http://www.yellowpages.com/ 12 92.2487647
http://www.hotfrog.com/ 9 72.50237993
http://www.yellowbot.com/ 9 62.09932614
http://local.yahoo.com/ 11 92.93384111
http://www.dexknows.com/ 11 81.02217804
http://www.yelp.com/ 13 90.99296818
http://www.mojopages.com/ 9 65.72465647
http://www.manta.com/ 10 77.85606387
http://www.theusaexplorer.com/ 6 57.80067005
http://www.getfave.com/ 8 53.51251008
http://www.local.com/ 10 75.26066713
http://www.yellowbook.com/ 11 81.2051155
http://www.insiderpages.com/ 10 71.98042639
http://www.allpages.com/ 9 59.83753071
http://www.b2byellowpages.com/ 10 67.85071049
http://yellowpages.aol.com/ 10 96.83188599
http://citysquares.com/ 7 53.4511902
http://www.yellowpagecity.com/ 9 55.79412617
http://www.realpageslive.com/ 9 57.67493437
http://www.facebook.com/ 14 99.05280103
http://www.magicyellow.com/ 9 61.97368376
http://local.botw.org/ 8 79.02018426
http://yellowpages.lycos.com/ 8 94.26800406
http://articles.directorym.com/ 8 65.95941101
http://www.serviceslisted.com/ 7 51.03731539
http://www.ziphip.com/ 5 36.093079
http://www.topix.com/ 11 82.47465551
http://www.lookooh.com/ 8 64.43762332
http://www.localhotelexplorer.com/ 8 71.44819186
http://www.ibegin.com/ 9 65.45656709
http://www.pagelink.com/ 5 44.80195406
http://www.angieslist.com/ 10 81.83934769
http://www.bbb.org/ 12 90.42884558
http://www.kudzu.com/ 9 69.3053449
http://yellowpages.superpages.com/ 10 88.1699016
http://www.switchboard.com/ 12 87.89781454
http://local.yodle.com/ 8 60.17145272
http://www.livestrong.com/ 10 79.98519372
http://www.userinstinct.com/ 7 46.25495599
http://www.aaag.com/ 8 38.13858366
http://www.allareacodes.com/ 9 47.1266467
http://www.locallife.com/ 6 40.33619254
http://www.docstoc.com/ 10 81.98755652
http://www.amivisible.org/ 5 28.52889663
http://www.ppotter.com/ 7 38.12518434
http://articles.directorym.net/ 7 53.19282774
http://www.2ex.org/ NULL NULL
http://ezlocal.com/ 7 49.04035437
http://www.411.info/ 9 47.85677411
http://radarfrog.gatehousemedia.com/ 7 59.94821686
http://www.2findlocal.com/ 7 40.58461317
http://www.wellness.com/ 10 64.06724239
http://www.mobofinder.com/ 3 19.38055877
http://www.whoiscell.com/ 4 22.97833411
http://www.ziplocal.com/ 8 52.97513276
http://us.loadedweb.com/ 8 63.98445354
http://www.zipperpages.com/ 5 39.37830624
http://www.centerd.com/ 8 54.32843583
http://www.brownbook.net/ 8 57.39270744
http://www.chamberofcommerce.com/ 10 64.14013282
http://cherrp.twimailer.com/ 5 40.48761038
http://www.celinea.com/ 8 45.15269701
http://www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org/ 8 61.52629999
http://phoenix.arizonahighways.com/ 4 65.70943141
http://www.citizensinfo.com/ 5 33.17068805
http://www.e-physician.info/ 7 43.33652762
http://issuu.com/ 11 92.12245912
http://www.showmelocal.com/ 6 58.98437408
http://cellamigo.com/ 5 30.8094756
http://www.ziffen.com/ 6 34.85190055
http://www.thewebmap.com/ 7 32.6645965
http://www.blogthishere.com/ 7 52.01243179
http://www.judysbook.com/ 9 69.69561292
http://www.yellowusapages.com/ 6 43.91801687
http://local.findtarget.com/ 6 50.33044035
http://gbiz.org/ 6 49.51763585
http://www.scribd.com/ 11 91.66342612
http://800notes.com/ 9 59.46768937
http://anireport.com/ 5 40.28672212
http://www.myservicemonster.com/ 7 49.58619072
http://yellowpage.hirby.com/ 5 38.81078073
http://de.lirio.us/ 9 81.25808
http://cidlookup.com/ 5 43.9100977
http://www.c3r.net/ NULL NULL
http://www.grayboxx.com/ 8 50.08566066
http://fwix.com/ 9 66.8908217
http://www.mapquest.com/ 13 97.23659194
http://www.healthline.com/ 10 79.91131453
http://www.mustardpages.com/ 5 38.81125661
http://www.callerbacktrack.com/ 4 16.16011647
http://www.loopt.com/ 10 69.77433014
http://www.snapspans.com/ 6 33.06078241
http://www.opportunitymart.com/ NULL NULL
http://www.goldbamboo.com/ 7 54.16558871
http://www.callerfacts.com/ 5 22.805298
http://www.americantowns.com/ 8 63.91644426
http://www.callferret.com/ 6 39.32668795
http://reallymadeinusa.info/ 5 56.50743593
http://wimgo.com/ 7 48.07875124
http://www.locateunknowncaller.com/ 3 3.830138643
http://www.openlist.com/ 12 54.2390372
http://www.travels.com/ 8 53.49840106
http://www.company.com/ 9 54.29841104
http://www.mrcallerid.com/ 3 24.94666418
http://localdirectory.nydailynews.com/ 6 87.18325984
http://www.attorneyhelp.org/ 8 45.38593849
http://www.sortuv.com/ 6 36.34221212
http://lawyers.justia.com/ 7 64.35961752
http://www.everycall.us/ 7 35.52394604
http://www.139001.net/ 8 65.10323552
http://www.myyp.com/ 8 48.01599396
http://www.linkedin.com/ 12 95.68360601
http://www.discoverourtown.com/ 9 64.85587146
http://lawyers.legalhelpmate.com/ 5 57.0450284
http://local.survivalinsight.com/ 3 41.73162792
http://www.called.com/ NULL NULL
http://www.wonderwhoscalling.com/ 5 23.38838936
http://radaris.com/ 9 59.60607971
http://health.yahoo.net/ 8 73.87841002
http://ca.allpages.com/ 7 59.83753071
http://www.iaf.net/ 11 72.97076111
http://www.nexport.com/ 7 55.17750507
http://www.pageinsider.com/ 5 38.68481131
http://www.carionltd.com/ 7 32.646667
http://free.salesfuel.com/ 5 27.83035548
http://yp.blogflux.com/ 8 81.26793443
http://goliath.ecnext.com/ 10 66.76982626
http://local.kiplinger.com/ 5 81.87000694
http://yellowwiz.com/ 4 17.03087643
http://www.101attorney.com/ 6 35.08020005
http://www.youtube.com/ 14 97.87406811
http://directory.boomtrek.us/ 3 37.05393734
http://www.backfence.com/ 9 57.24212321
http://www.whorang.us/ 3 12.79665294
http://pview.findlaw.com/ 8 91.00322101
http://www.123people.com/ 9 70.11969638
http://www.yellowhours.com/ 5 32.50113853
http://www.searchpeopledirectory.com/ 7 36.66559521
http://www.househunt.com/ 10 67.64877347
http://www.nolo.com/ 11 83.94623397
http://www.teleblab.com/ 3 13.45322543
http://www.allbusiness.com/ 11 85.38786931
http://www.ypsort.com/ 8 48.46855565
http://areacode.callerprofile.com/ NULL NULL
http://detailedpersoninfo.com/ 3 15.84473977
http://www.americantradesman.com/ 7 32.69228527
http://yellowpages.theyellowpages.com/ 5 59.37515607
http://oeis.org/ 7 44.42572725
http://www.informationpages.com/ 7 43.41814136
http://numnotes.com/ NULL NULL
http://www.cylex-usa.com/ 8 56.24260689
http://celldiscovery.com/ 3 14.47487783
http://attorneypages.com/ 9 60.22861437
http://wn.com/ 11 77.68153625
http://twitter.com/ 14 96.12901844
http://www.indexedamerica.com/ 4 41.71277996
http://www.find-lawyers.org/ 4 34.83774246
http://www.akama.com/ 7 45.94608381
http://www.healthcare.com/ 9 59.06413348
http://web.userinstinct.com/ 6 46.25495599
http://yellowpages.washingtonpost.com/ 8 94.47903644
http://www.matchpoint.com/ 8 43.92025187
http://www.quickyellow.com/ 6 43.41930632
http://whois.domaintools.com/ 11 88.24026149
http://www.yellowpages.ca/ 11 81.18505459
http://www.localdatabase.com/ 7 47.03633861
http://www.bizwiki.com/ 7 47.72893414
http://www.hg.org/ 10 73.42385287
http://callerregistry.com/ 3 1
http://whocallsme.com/ 8 60.34560457
http://local.meridianstar.com/ 5 58.53983388
http://www.hoovers.com/ 11 89.14824352
http://www.lawyersdirections.com/ 7 43.69875596
http://www.myhuckleberry.com/ 8 50.86764697
http://documents.yourcb.com/ 3 12.00069483
http://www.whitepages.com/ 11 82.37751899
http://www.myspace.com/ 13 97.13789583
http://www.chacha.com/ 10 72.0989157
http://findarticles.com/ 15 91.36073192
http://start.cortera.com/ 6 45.75014499
http://www.pinoya.com/ 3 27.81674175
http://business.intuit.com/ 12 81.01532085
http://www.mtrot.com/ 3 27.94976699
http://loqal.com/ 6 49.38157718
http://www.city-data.com/ 10 73.83194372
http://www.spokeo.com/ NULL NULL
http://www.geneologywizard.com/ 6 34.17879232
http://guides.gottrouble.com/ 5 53.46143525
http://fl.allpages.com/ 8 59.83753071
http://www.appointmentnet.com/ 6 27.25903097
http://www.lawyers.com/ 11 80.1019403
http://local.lectlaw.com/ 5 67.76182716
http://www.macraesbluebook.com/ 9 65.49684368
http://www.7mainstreet.com/ 6 37.51089932
http://www.bustacaller.com/ NULL NULL
http://pipl.com/ NULL NULL
http://www.world-callerid.com/ 6 34.46896135