It’s no secret that Google and the other search engines love high authority, relevant local businesses. Google’s Pigeon algorithm update made that clear- and it’s never been harder to get anywhere near the top of local search results!

We’re going to be honest – it can take a lot of work to compete in Google Maps and the Local Pack. Even if every guideline is followed, there is still no guarantee your website will be picked up.

But, what a place to be! If successful, you’ll be rewarded by a burst of traffic in organic search results, by users who want your business and want it immediately.

But what does it take to be listed in such a highly prized spot?

We’ll take you from start to finish, giving you the best possible chance of ranking competitively in Google Maps and the Local Pack.

Step 1: Claim or Set up Your Google My Business Listing

In order to appear in Google Maps you need to first create or claim your listing.

To do so, visit google.com/business/ and select either of the “Manage now” buttons shown below.

Please note: you will need a Gmail email address for this service. If you do not have one, you can create one here.

Search for your business and either Google will give you steps to claim the existing listing or provide steps for creating the listing from scratch. Either way, you will be required to verify yourself with the business by either phone, email, or mail.

Step 2: Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Optimizing your listing is actually quite simple: submit all the relevant information that Google requests! This includes your:

  • Business name
  • Primary category and any sub-categories
  • Address (or locations served if you don’t operate from a physical address)
  • Phone Number
  • Business description
  • Business hours (including special holiday hours)
  • Select a profile short name
  • Your website (generally, you should use your homepage)
  • Your appointment URL (if applicable)
  • Your services and prices (if applicable)
  • Your products (if applicable)
  • Business attributes
  • Your opening date
  • As many relevant photos as possible

Your Name, Address, & Phone Number Are Vital

Often referred to as NAP, these 3 aspects of your business are essential to your success in Google Maps as Google uses these to verify the accuracy and validity of your business. Ensure that you are using the same exact NAP information on your Google My Business listing, website, social media, and any other online platform such as Yelp or Yellowbook.

Use Your Real Phone Number

Unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise, be sure to use your real local business phone number – the same phone number that is listed on your social and other platforms. It’s important for your NAP consistency and just an overall good business practice.

Link to Your Listing from Your Website Contact Page or Footer

By linking to your Google My Business listing on your website (or even better, embed Google Maps with your listing directly onto your website!) you help crawlers connect the dots as well as users.

This isn’t direly important so don’t worry if you aren’t sure how or if your website developers are being difficult, but it does help!

Step 3: Update & Manage Your Business Citations

To increase your listing’s ranking authority you need quality, authoritative business citations across all major data aggregators and local sources. These citations need to be optimized to match the business information that is present on your website and Google My Business profile.

Additionally, any inaccurate citations need to be updated and duplicate citations need to be removed.

Managing a citation network can take an exhausting amount of effort without an SEO company but it’s worth the time and investment because if your citations aren’t consistent and accurate, they won’t do you any good.

Step 4: Request Reviews From Your Customers

The easiest and most important step that many business owners often neglect – request reviews!

Yes, Google reviews can come naturally without you having to do much of anything, but when you’re first starting out or if you have a low review count it’s imperative that you make an effort to receive reviews.

Reviews Help Your Search Rankings

The quantity of reviews and the rating values you are given are ranking factors that play a tremendous role in Google determining how visible in searches you should be and how high of a maps ranking you should get.

Google’s goal is to bring the best results to its searches so they keep using their search engine. Should a business with low ratings and bad reviews receive the same kind of visibility and rankings as another similar business with high ratings and great reviews? Probably not.

If you want to rank higher in Google Maps and appear in the Local Pack you need good reviews and as many as you can get, period.

Reviews Bring You More Customers

Studies prove that when searchers are looking to make a purchase decision their end result is often heavily influenced by reviews.

According to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey

  • 91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars

And that’s just the tip of the review survey iceberg!

If you want to increase your customer reach through Google Maps and the Local Pack…you need reviews!

How To Request For More Reviews

Google has made it easy to share a link for a review on your Google My Business listing (make sure you set up your “profile short name” in step 2):

Here are some common ways to go about requesting for reviews:

    1. Ask your customers in-person for a review after you have provided a service or they have made a purchase.
    2. Send existing customers an email requesting for a review.
    3. Make a sign to display at your business that showcases where and how to leave a review.
    4. Include where and how to leave a review on your business card.

In our experience, a little bit of effort goes a long way. And, if in the end it means your Google My Business listing and website get more traffic and a reputation for great service, there’s no reason not to try!

These 4 steps will set you on the path to success in Google Maps, the Local Pack, and your overall Local SEO. If you’re still confused or would like some help tackling this area of your online presence, our team at JD Digital Marketing is here to help with absolutely free, no pressure consultations.