In this article you’ll learn how to get top results in Google Maps (Google’s Local Search) which has become much more important with the evolution of Blended or Universal Search results.
In past articles about Google Maps we’ve covered:
In this article I’ll cover the important factors for getting the best results in Google Maps (Not just rankings but overall results including enticing people to take action). Let’s get right to it –
Find & claim your listings. The simple act of finding and claiming your Google Map listings, even if you don’t update them, will likely improve your rankings as it verifies the listing (Learn how find & claim your listings in our video blog).
Proximity to the search location. You’d think this one’s pretty obvious, that the closer your listing is to the location being searched on the better you should rank (all other things equal). So if the search is for “lumber New Haven” the listings from within New Haven should rank higher than the listings outside of New Haven, again all other things equal. And this is often the case with cities.
However Google’s results when there are not enough listings in a location, such as a smaller town, or when the search is for a wide area like a state can be skewed towards downtown areas of cites etc.
This tendency of weighting towards the centers of cities has diminished as other ranking factors have evolved (the “all other things”) and this should continue as Google is “constantly tweaking our ranking factors” (From a Google representative in a Google Maps forum about this issue)
Note – The letter in front of the following items corresponds to the letter in the following Google Maps “Edit/Add” Listing screen shot.
A: The Company/Organization Name in the Listing. Having the service keyword in the name, such as “Acme Web Design” should help both with rankings and usability (making it quickly clear what you do). But see the Google Maps Guidelines linked to below: You are you required to use your actual business/organization name. However I’ve seen this rule broken repeatedly (see how to report spam below).
B. The Web Site/Landing Page. You don’t even need a web site but if you do…
Think about the best page to link to, just like you would when developing PPC ads. Should you link to the home page? Possibly it you have a single location and a limited focus.
Many of our clients have multiple locations. We’ve had the best results with one or more web pages per location. We link the Google Maps listings to the appropriate page. This has been helping with rankings. Plus, getting people directly to the location page they are interested in helps with conversions.
Have a site or page that is optimized for your key products & services along with local phrases; such as towns served, should definitely help your listings for searches on those products or services and locations. Many times I’ve seen the description developed by Google for the local search listing include text from the web site rather than from the Google Maps listing.
Some specific page elements to think about including on the web pages.
The location address in text.
A local phone number in text.
The location and/or towns severed in the HTML Title Tag.
C: The Google Maps Description. Spend lots of time on this 200 character description. As much time as you would developing an HTML Page Title and Meta Tag Description combination for an important page on your web site.
This description should be developed to help “sell” your business or organization to those who read it. If you include the keyword(s) and/or location being searched on in the description, for example “Web designers in the New Haven area since 2005”, it should help with rankings too.
Categories in the listing. If you are listed in a category that is being searched for, such as “web design New Haven, CT” this should help your listing rank better.
You can be listed in up to 5 categories. You can even suggest new ones. Do some searches on some important products or services and locations and check what categories are being used by others.
See the video for a demonstration of categories in “Google Maps Video: How to find, claim, update and add listings in Google’s local search”
Pictures & Video. Pictures and video can help you sell your business and its products and services.
Often a picture will be included in the Google Maps listing like our client’s below. That’s probably not going to help rankings, but could help click-throughs and conversions.
Picture in a Local Listing Result
Use the Additional Details fields to show more information about your business, its products and services (see the screen shot of an additional details area below).
These Additional Details can help sell your business, its products and services and they appear to help with rankings too. I’ve searched on some details that appear no where else but in the Additional Details and the listings where retuned in the results.
An example of Additional Details displayed in a listing
Citations (mentions and links on other sites). You’re used to link popularity (PageRank, trust etc) for the traditional organic listings. It works very much the same for local listings.
Having Citations (mentions or links) on other web pages that help validate your local listing are a very important factor in local search rankings. These mentions don’t even have to link to the site, just verifying a local address and/or phone number helps.
Look for listings and mentions on sites (See the screen shots at the bottom of the article). Check any current listings you have for accuracy of the address, phone numbers, categories, and for issues such as duplicate listings, etc as Google often imports this information into your Google Places listing:
- The online yellow pages like SuperPages that are used as a source for search engines like Google. (See URL’s to the online yellow pages below).
- Regional listings such as on Yahoo, Business.com, local directories (eg chambers etc).
- Listings in sites like CitySearch, Yelp, etc.
- Local listings on the other major engines will help as they all crawl each others listings.
Try “reverse linking” the sites reaching the top local search listings for your local product and service keywords. Find which sites mention or link to them and what sites Google includes information from within the Maps listings. Might they be a fit for your site? (See the screen shots at the bottom of the article).
Ask for Reviews
I do not believe that reviews per se are a ranking factor. In my testing it does not appear that the number of reviews or the user ratings are affecting the rankings in Google Maps, however…
Having reviews may help verify a local listing and help build trust, but I haven’t been able to verify this.
Much more important, having good reviews can help you sell your business online.
Plus, snippets from your reviews are often included by Google in the local listings (see the screen shot below)
Local Listing with Review snippet
Also, searchers can exclude Google Maps listings by User Rating.
Look at the sites reaching the top local search listings for your local product and service keywords and see which sites Google includes reviews from. Then ask for reviews on them as well as directly in Google Maps.
Where to Find Citation and Reveiw Sites
A: Review Sites Google Extracts From
B: Infobases Google Uses
C: Find More Possible Citation Sites In This Section
The Major Local Search Sites
Check this site out too: getlisted.org. The site will attempt to find your local listings for you, get you started on updating the listings, and they have lots of tips.
Google Maps Resources
Recently posted in the Google Maps forum by a Google employee about reporting problems with listings “The best way to escalate these types of errors is to use the “Report a problem” link at the lower right-hand corner of the map. You’ll be able to provide details of the issue and subscribe to be notified of when the error is corrected.”
The Major Online Yellow pages and Info sources to the majors
- InfoUSA (Database for many online yellow pages such as Yahoo’s)
- Yellowpages.com (ATT)
- SuperPages.com – Verizon (Database for other online listings: Google, Bing). Last known tel number for issues, 800-320-1395
How Flickr Can Help Your Local Business Get More Traffic – An article on Web Marketing Today about hosting images on Yahoo’s Flickr photo & video sharing site. These images are sometimes shown in the Blended search results including on Google
49 Local Search Ranking Factors Rated by Importance – The results of a survey of 27 folks who work on local search; 41 positive ranking factors, 8 negative factors
How to Promote and Syndicate Your Local Business Listings – More about citations on Web Marketing Today
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