Google Maps is the Mountain View giant’s location tool. It is used by around 1 billion Internet users each month (Google data) to find their way to a place, including a physical sign.
Given the link that Google Maps creates between users and local businesses, GMaps is presented as a real marketing tool for the latter. To get more visits to your point of sale, and potentially more customers, you need to rank well on Google Maps and have strong local SEO strategies in place.
How Google Maps works
Google Maps is a geolocation application installed natively on Android OS or accessible via maps.google.com. Google Maps is displayed as an interactive map, on which users:
- see their position
- search for places by entering a name or activity
- browse to see the location of an establishment
- receive optimized routes to go from place A to place B
- calculate journey times according to the means of travel and traffic in real time
The Californian firm’s GPS tool also offers compass functions. For anyone needing to obtain location recommendations (restaurant, gas station, hospital, etc.) depending on its location, Google Maps is therefore very useful.
Generally, users take advantage of the multiple functions of the app either by opening it directly or by being redirected to it from a Google search. In either case, it is at this level that Google Maps is useful for businesses too. Since Internet users receive recommendations, your points of sale benefit from being well positioned among the proposals for places in your category of activity. You must then work on your local visibility, so that your brand is recommended to GMaps users whose location coincides with your catchment area.
With nearly 25 million updates made every day, Google’s Maps tool provides its users with location data for getting around more than 200 countries. You must therefore guarantee a good visibility on Google Maps to your unique brand located in Paris, Lyon or Lille, or to all your physical points of sale all over the world if you are at the head of a multinational. Each point of sale or shop must indeed have a unique “identity” on Google Maps and be referenced.
For your brand to be present on Google Maps, it must have a listing on Google My Business (GMB). Google My Business is a professional activity management utility offered by Google directly linked to the Maps tool.
On business.google.com, you can access it directly. You just have to click on “Manage now”, then on “Add your business to Google”. You then provide the requested information:
- name of the brand,
- activity category,
- phone number,
- etc …
Google verifies your identity in several steps.
The procedure is the same when you go directly to Google Maps (“Contribute” menu, “Add a place” option). The only difference here is that ordinary Internet users can also register a brand. Google therefore asks you first if you are the owner of the place, before redirecting you to a Google My Business listing.
Both during this initial configuration and in the management to be done thereafter, you must optimize your GMB file to make sure yoube well referenced on Google Maps.
Tips to be more visible on Google Maps
Google visibility through SEO and local visibility on Google Maps go hand in hand. On your website, publish optimized content, containing the right keywords and having the right structure. Among other things, in a logic of local on-site SEO, some of these keywords must combine terms related to your activity and the name of your locality. Also write effective meta-titles and meta-descriptions and take care of the internal mesh, to obtain a good ranking on the SERPs. Also consider setting up an off-site SEO plan (quality netlinking, placement in directories, etc.).
When a local business has a website that ranks among the first results, Google provides links to access its GMB page and to get directions to its point of sale. But of course, beyond “classic” SEO, optimizing your Google My Business page is essential.
Provide accurate and up-to-date information
Provide full information on your Google My Business listing. The physical address, the telephone number, the category or the attributes must be entered with precision. Regarding the category, rather than a general indication like “fashion boutique”, prefer a more precise wording like “boutique of clothing for women”. The times indicated should also be precise, and frequently updated for events or holidays.
In addition, Google gives priority to validated establishments. Claim each of your establishments and properly complete the Identity Confirmation step.
Manage reviews intelligently
The interactions between establishments and users are important in ranking on Google Maps. When you respond to reviews, you are giving Google proof that customer and user reviews are important to you. Then encourage your customers to leave a review.
If positive reviews improve your visibility, good management of negative reviews is just as useful.
Frequently add photos
On the user side, the photos allow them to get an idea of the services to which they will be entitled by going to your point of sale. For Google, this approach is seen as a desire to give potential customers a maximum information to better guide their choices. And that’s a good point for you.
The criteria for local ranking on Google Maps
Internet users frequently carry out searches to find an establishment close to their position. Google displays results taking into account several criteria, including proximity to registered brands.
This key parameter considers the distance between the starting position indicated by the Internet user and each establishment that can meet their needs. If no starting position is indicated, user location at time of search is retained by default. 72% of Internet users searching on Google Maps end up visiting a retailer within 8.5 km, according to Go-gulf data.
The profile of your establishment must correspond to the expectations of the Internet user. It is on this condition that your point of sale is displayed as a result of its request. It is therefore essential to provide information on your Google My Business listing complete and precise information. Google can then better understand your activity and judge if it fits with a query.
Google takes into account the degree of popularity of places to offer them to Google Maps users. Thus, an establishment more popular in practice than on the Internet has every chance of being well positioned. For this popularity criterion, reviews and ratings also count.
The ranking of establishments combines all these factors. For example, in response to a request from an Internet user, between two brands whose first is more distant than the second, but better rated and more popular than the latter, Google gives priority to the first. Optimize the GMB profile of each of your points of sale to better position them on Google Maps!