Thursday, September 29, 2016

3 Google Map SEO Tips for Local Entrepreneurs

Google Maps SEO is now an integral component to any local business or entrepreneur embracing search engine marketing. In essence, having a listing atop Google's local search results is a powerful way to drive in-market traffic. As a result, Google Maps SEO provides valuable returns for all types of businesses operating on the local level.

Google Map SEO Tips

Among the most popular references to Google Maps SEO is associated with the ever-present local 3 pack listings. Most often displayed just below the pay per click ads and above the organic search listings, the local 3 pack is the most prominent set of search results that are triggered for any keyword phrase with geographic relevance.

While the Google 3 pack is perhaps the most powerful traffic-driver from an SEO perspective, there is another aspect of Google Maps SEO that businesses often overlooked. This the ranked Google Maps search results which are displayed directly in the Google Maps search interface.

Google Maps SEO 3 Pack Marketing

The ranked Google Maps search results, which are based on slightly unique (but many overlapping) variables compared to the local 3 pack listings, make up the other side to local Google Maps SEO. Together, the 3 pack and Google Maps search results provide local businesses a great opportunity to optimize search visibility and increase the amount of traffic coming to their site.

In an effort to enable your business to rank higher in both the ranked Google Maps search results and local 3 pack listings, below we share three Google Maps SEO tips that have been proven effective in many different campaigns.

1. Claim, Optimize, & Verify Google My Business Listing

One of the most influential ranking factors to both the ranked Google Maps search results and local 3 pack listings is a company's Google My Business (GMB) page. Formerly Google Places and Google+ Local pages, GMB pages are the next most important web asset for a business's SEO next to its website.
Google Maps Listing for SEO
Make sure to verify your business's GMB page via phone verification or postcard submission.

Take the time to not only claim your business's GMB page, but optimize and verify the listing. This includes fully populating the page to 100% completion, uploading optimized images and videos, tagging the listing with most relevant business categories, and linking to/from your website to/from the GMB page.

2. Audit Your Business's Citations

Citations (or mentions of the business name, address, and phone number) on websites like Yelp, Manta, Facebook, Yellowpages, LinkedIn, etc. are the mechanism Google uses to validate credible businesses that are worthy of ranking in the local 3 pack listings. Similar to inbound links or backlinks, the more (accurate) citations a business has, the greater potential it has for Google Maps SEO.

Volume and accuracy of citations are the pivotal variables. Any misalignment in a citation (such as a missing suite or wrong phone number) can hinder SEO. For this reason, it's important to audit your business's citations throughout the web and ensure they are 100% accurate and consiste. A couple great tools to help you do this are Yext and Whitespark.

3. Cultivate Domain Authority

As mentioned in the previous Google Maps SEO tip, backlinks are an important variable to organic search rankings and defining a website's domain authority. Earning backlinks from trusted and authoritative sources will dramatically help to increase domain authority.

But if domain authority and backlinks are focused on organic SEO, how do they influence Google Maps SEO? There's a strong relationship between organic search performance and local search rankings. In short, businesses that have strong domain authority and rank well in organic search have a higher likelihood of ranking better in the Google local listings.

While this is not 100% correlated, this relationship establishes an enough evidence to make it worthwhile to earn more quality backlinks to your site. While auditing your citations, you can build quick and easy backlinks from local listings and directories. This, however, will only get you so far.

To cultivate strong domain authority that improves both organic and Google Maps SEO, you'll need to invest time (and perhaps money) in link acquisition. Investing in a local chamber of commerce membership (and getting a link and citation from the chamber site;) blogging on other websites; creating social media profiles; and simply requesting inclusion on related "links and resources" pages on other sites associated with your business and industry; these are all just a few ways to acquire links and cultivate domain authority.

While these three Google Maps SEO and marketing tips are just the tip of the iceberg, they are some of the most momentous strategies to help your business move the needle in the search results.

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