As a local business serving a city (or several), it’s important that you rank highly in Google maps, preferably in the top 3 positions as these get the highest percentage of clicks (around 30%). It’s even more important if you rely on new customers finding your business in the local search results.
There are several steps that you need to follow, to first get listed in the map pack and then move your listing towards the top of the results. Relevancy is key to higher local rankings so try to follow the steps outlined below in our guide to higher Google map pack rankings.
1. Get Google verified
The first step is to create a free Google Business Profile account (formerly known as Google My Business) and verify your address. You may find that Google has already created a profile for your business. In this case, you simply need to claim the listing. Google will typically send a postcard to your business address with a code to enter online to verify you as the business owner.
2. Select the right business categories
Make sure you select the right business category to define your business. Many get this wrong which can have a detrimental effect to your listing. There are over 2,395 different types of business categories so choose carefully! The category you select must describe the whole of your business rather than just parts of it.
3. Create GBP content
Once you have selected your business category go through all of the available options within the information section, carefully adding your opening hours, telephone number, website URL and business description. Consistency is key so make sure you always use the same information that is listed on your website. You can also add the services you offer, and any prices associated with these. Upload photos of your business including team members, your office, company logos and more.
4. Increase customer reviews
Building trust with potential new customers should be at the top of your list especially within the local service industry. Potential customers will always trust online reviews and you can also display these on your website. If you use WordPress there are a number of plugins which pull in new Google reviews automatically, failing this you can use a carousel so your visitors can click through the reviews and form their own opinion. Gold stars can also help increase click-through rates by as much as 20%. You can also use these reviews in the search results in the form of structured data (for the technical among you).
5. Build citations and local directory listings
Citations are an online reference to your business and usually contain your name, address and phone number (NAP data). For local SEO is highly important this data is consistent with the information on your website, GBP or local landing page if you have multiple locations. Google uses citations as a ranking signal in the local search results and will rank a website higher if it has lots of quality citations over one that has none at all, using citations as a vote of confidence and evidence of a genuine business. You can create citations on a wide variety of online directory sites and niche related websites. It’s also important that the citations you create are indexed in Google’s search results otherwise they have little to no value.
6. Create consistent NAP data
If you already have references to your business online but use a different name, address or phone number you need to get these changed to be consistent. Mentions of your business online is a signal to Google and you don’t want to interfere with this. If you serve customers at your business location or have recently moved you also will need to make sure your address is updated so customers don’t get confused, go to the wrong location or use the incorrect phone number!
7. Fix your onsite SEO
Examine your website and check that all references to your name, address and phone number are consistent with your citations and Google Business Profile. You can also add structured data to supply search engines with even more information about your local business. If you need to rank in different locations you can also develop landing pages for these areas, as we have done for our clients by creating content which is unique to the city they are targeting.
8. Hire an SEO agency
Of course, you could just employ an expert SEO agency such as ourselves to do the hard work, so you don’t have to! It can take 2 – 4 months after creating new citations for you to start seeing an improvement in the local rankings so don’t waste time! We have ranked several clients in the Google maps successfully and understand what it takes to get there. Simply complete our online form to make an enquiry and get started with our local SEO services.