It’s amazing how many things you can do wrong with these free listings. Just following our advice to filling out your Google Maps Listing within the Google’s Local Business Center (LBC) can make the difference in your business outranking your competition in the 7-Box.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to set up your listing, you may just want to quickly read the Business Listings Quality Guidelines, so you are fully aware of their terms when you are setting up your listing. I have seen example after example of merchants who knowingly or through ignorance break these simple guidelines and end up being flagged and then banned from G Maps. Don’t end up like the many panicked merchants in the forums struggling to get help with their banned listing.
Before you post your listing you may want to go to GetListed.org and check to see if you have a listing already. If you do, claim it. If you don’t have a listing then sign up for your Google Maps Listing at the LBC.
Here are the 7 Elements You Must Have in Your Google Maps Listing To Have a Optimized Listing.
Just filling out your local listing blindly without any thought is a HUGE mistake. Treat this listing with the same respect you would for your on-page SEO for your website.
Google Maps On-Page Optimization
Here are the seven most likely Google Maps ranking elements that you will want to put some thought into before submitting your listing. (If you have already submitted a listing don’t worry all listings are easily editable, as long as you have access to edit your listing)
- Address: Often Google likes to display businesses that are closest to the city center. So if you are a mobile business try to get an address that is closest to the city’s core. For example, if you are a contractor or work out of your home and your home address is not in that city then you may want to get a P.O. Box that has an address and ZIP/Postal Code that correlates to the city core, otherwise you may find your listing is not ranking as well as you’d like. NOTE: Make sure your contact address is consistent across the web. Don’t have different sources showing different addresses for your business. Consistency is KEY when it comes to citations in G-Maps. Also note: that using a P.O. Box is technically against Google’s Maps TOS. You man want to rent a mail box or office space closer to the core. I personally have used UPS boxes because they are called “Suite #’s” as opposed to a BOX number. Right now I believe you are not penalized in anyway by using a UPS address because it’s no uncommon for a building to have many businesses in it and there is no way for Google to know how many business reside in that building. Just note it’s technically against their terms.
- Category: There is a ton of chatter about how to optimize “Categories” in Google Maps, but I suggest you make sure you choose the most relevant category for your business in the ‘choose category’ section. Getting this wrong can cause your local listing to not show for the GEO keyword terms you would like. My advice is to not add local modifiers to your category keyword terms. My suggestion is to do some searching with category keywords in Google and note which keyword categories trigger a 7-Pack. If it’s pulling in the 7-Pack then you may want to consider using that category term. Make sure there is some search volume for the term too – do some good old keyword research. The one thing you want to make sure you do is to use ALL five category spots. David Mihm offers a good article on Google Maps Categories here.
- Business Description: Make sure you have your product and/or service keywords listed in your business description. Now this is not as important as the Title, but it too is important. It is the equivalent of a website’s “meta description” for SEO.
- Content/Media: Add rich media to your local listings. Add photos & video, etc. I’m not sure if it improves rankings in the local listings, but it can only help turn online browsers to offline buyers. Add before and after photos. Add video that demos your product or services (like ‘will it blend’ videos). Add a video screen capture tutorial that offers value. It has been proven that video helps convert more click-throughs then any other medium. Why not use this free gift given to you? NOTE: If you don’t add your own rich media then Google may pull that data on your business themselves from places like Flickr, Panoramio, YouTube, etc. and you may not like the media they pull. Therefore, it would be a good idea to go in and fill this section out to the fullest ability which is currently 10 photos & 5 videos. Also, remember to watermark all your images & videos before uploading them.
- Coupons: Use them. This can be what differentiates your business from other competition found in the local listings. Not offering a Google coupon is risking losing business to those businesses that are. It also gives you a great way to track your sales generated from your local listing on Google. You can even create a XML Feed for your Google Maps Coupons and have them upload to be different every day, week, or season. It’s a great way to have fun with timely promotions. NOTE: If you have coupons listed on other local listings, make sure you make them different so you can track them all properly. This feature will become even more useful if Google starts releasing their Coupon Search feature again.
- Double Listings: Don’t do it. Make sure you only have one G-Maps listing. You don’t want to lose your listing over something so ridiculous. People can easily report and flag your listing, I know I would if you were my competition and I saw you putting up Google Maps SPAM.
Once you are done setting up your listing, you will need to verify it. What they do is send you a PIN number (via your contact details that you added in your listing) to verify that it is actually a real business adding its info. You can do this verification 3 ways with Google’s LBC:
- SMS – Text Message
- Mail – They send a sealed postcard with a PIN #
Obviously, if you verify via your phone or cell phone text, then your listing will go ‘live’ with all the changes immediately. However, often businesses are forced to verify via mail (good old snail mail) and many small businesses can easily mistake this postcard for junk mail. Don’t let that be you – watch this quick video on what the Google Maps Verification Postcards look like.
Tracking Google Maps Traffic
Now you may also want to track your Google Maps Listing using your free Google Analytics Account. I found this amazing how-to guide: Google Analytics (GA) for the Google Maps 7-Pack. I highly recommend you go through the 7 tutorials on how to use GA to track your local search marketing campaigns.
Another interesting article to read is “Business Owners: Are You Sabotaging Your Own Local Listings?”
That covers all the main points when setting up your Google Maps Listing in Google’s LBC. If you have any questions, be sure to ask us in the comment section below.
Google Map Marketing Lesson 3
Now on to the most important elements of ranking well within the 7-Box of Google Maps Listings: Citations, Reviews & User Content