A Checklist for Optimizing Your Website in Google Maps

Google Maps is one platform for optimizing your business locally. Optimizing for local searches has been found to be very effective in gaining new inquiries and sales. In fact, according to report by Search Engine Watch, “there is a 20.1% increase in clicks to call, clicks for directions, and clicks to a business’s website” with Google My Business (GMB) interactions when comparing stats from 2017 and 2018. This is quite huge and should not be taken lightly!  But in order to generate these clicks, your website’s GMB profile needs to be visible to interested searchers.

 

Further reading

The keys to high rankings in Google's local results

SEO Tips For Optimizing Your Local Google My Business Page

How to Use the Google Disavow Tool

How to Improve Google Display Network Performance

SEO Lessons From Google’s John Mueller

 

To give your business the highest probability of showing up in Google Maps for searches relevant to your business, we have provided a checklist below of GMB optimizations to help you achieve this.


1. Create or claim your Google My Business profile

The first thing you need to do is actually create your Google My Business profile.

Follow these steps to set up your Google My Business Listing

  •     Step 1: Log into the Google Account you want associated with your business (or create a Google Account if you don’t already have one).
  •     Step 2: Go to google.com/business and select “Start now” in the top right-hand corner.
  •     Step 3: Enter your business name.
  •     Step 4: Enter your business address.
  •     Step 5: If you go to your customers’ locations, rather than having them come to you, check the box “I deliver goods and services to my customers.” And if you work out of your house or another address you don’t want publicly shown, Check “Hide my address (it's not a store) Only show region.” Finally, select your Delivery area.
  •     Step 6: Choose your business category. Try to choose the most accurate category possible -- you’re essentially telling Google which type of customers should see your business listing.
  •     Step 7: Add your business phone number or website.
  •     Step 8: Choose a verification option. If you’re not ready to verify your business yet, click “Try a different method” → “Later.”

Further reading:

Useful Tips on How to Use Google Analytics on eCommerce Websites

How Your Content Can Be Featured in Google SERP

Important Google Analytic SEO Metrics You Need To Take Very Seriously

A Detailed Guide on How to Remove Google Blacklist Warning

 

How to Verify Your Business on Google

There are several ways to verify your GMB listing:

  •     By postcard
  •     By phone
  •     By email
  •     Instant verification
  •     Bulk verification

 

Postcard Verification

  •     Step 1: If you aren't already logged into Google My Business, sign in now and choose the business you want to verify. (If you're already logged in, you'll be at the verification step.)
  •     Step 2: Make sure your business address is correct. Optional: Add a contact name -- that's who the postcard will be addressed to.
  •     Step 3: Click "Mail." The postcard should reach you in five days -- make sure you don't edit your business name, address, or category (or request a new code) before it comes, because this could delay the process.
  •     Step 4: Once you've gotten the postcard, log into Google My Business. If you have more than one business location, select the location you want to verify. If you only have one, select "Verify now."
  •     Step 5: In the Code field, enter the five-digit verification code on your postcard. Click "Submit."

If your postcard never shows up, or you lose it, you can request a new code by signing into Google My Business and clicking the "Request another code" blue banner at the top of the screen.

 

Phone verification

Google lets some businesses verify their location by phone. If you're eligible, you'll see the "Verify by phone" option when you start the verification process.

  •     Step 1: If you aren't already logged into Google My Business, sign in now and choose the business you want to verify. (If you're already logged in, you'll be at the verification step.)
  •     Step 2: Make sure your phone number is correct, then choose "Verify by phone."
  •     Step 3: Enter the verification code from the text you receive.

 

Email verification

Google lets some businesses verify their location by email. If you're eligible, you'll see the "Verify by email" option when you start the verification process.

    Step 1: If you aren't already logged into Google My Business, sign in now and choose the business you want to verify. (If you're already logged in, you'll be at the verification step.)
    Step 2: Make sure your email address is correct, then choose "Verify by email."
    Step 3: Go to your inbox, open the email from Google My Business, and click the verification button in the email.

 

Instant verification

If you've already verified your business with Google Search Console (a free tool that lets you manage your website's search performance and health), you might be able to instantly verify your email.

  •     Step 1: Sign into Google My Business with the same account you used to verify your business with Google Search Console. (Some business categories aren't eligible for instant verification, so if you don't get a notification asking you to verify the listing, you'll have to use a different verification method.)

 

Bulk verification

If you operate more than 10 locations for the same business -- and you're not a service business or an agency managing locations for multiple businesses -- you might be eligible for bulk verification.

  •     Step 1: If you aren't already logged into Google My Business, sign in now and choose a location. Click "Get verified" next to its name.
  •     Step 2: Click "Chain."
  •     Step 3: Fill out the verification form with your business name (as well as the parent company, if applicable), country or countries where you operate, all contact names (i.e. everyone who will be using the Google My Business account), contact phone number, business manager email (someone at the business who can verify you're a representative of that business), and the email address of your Google Account Manager.
  •     Step 4: Submit the verification form. It can take up to a week for Google to review and process your claim.

 

If you’ve been operating your business for a while now, your profile may have already been automatically created for you.

If this is the case, you’ll want to claim your listing immediately. The reason for this is that if a business is unclaimed, users are able to update and change your business’s info such as operating hours, phone number, business categories, etc.

This is something you want to avoid, as your GMB should only reflect accurate information to your potential customers.

 

2. Add a consistent name, address, and phone number (NAP) info

Your business name, address, and phone number are extremely important when it comes to local SEO. This is because Google wants to show its searchers’ local businesses that are relevant to their local search query.

One of the factors that determine whether you are an established business within the searcher’s locality is that your name, address, and phone number are mentioned in various places throughout the web.

The point is that when your business is mentioned on other websites, it’s name, address, and phone number should match exactly with your GMB’s name, address, and phone number.

You want to make it as easy as possible for Google to understand that the business that is being mentioned on another website is in fact yours.

To do this, you need to make sure that your name, address, and phone number is uniform across all mentions of your business across the web.

So make sure you set this up correctly from the very beginning when you input this data into your GMB.


3. Relevant Categories

Next, you need to take advantage of the category section of your GMB. The category section allows you to directly communicate to Google what your business is all about based on the categories that best describe it.

Here, they allow you to have a “primary” category as well as “additional” categories.

Choose the single best term that describes your business in the primary category, then add two or three extra categories in the additional categories section.


4. Service areas

You also want to establish your target service areas. Your GMB allows you to specify what areas your business serves, so if you serve more than one city or municipality, you would specify both here.

 

5. Operating hours

The operating hours of your business are also very important. Double-check to make sure these are accurate, as this is one of the most common aspects of an unclaimed GMB that users change.

 

6. Website and appointment URL

Your GMB allows you to input two separate URLs into your profile. The “website” URL should be the URL of your homepage.

This is where users will be taken if they click the “website” button on your GMB in Google Maps. The appointment URL, on the other hand, should bring the user to a landing page where they can input their info into a contact form to book an appointment.

It is not good practice to link the appointment URL to the homepage (unless, of course, your homepage has a clear contact form on it).

So make sure that the page that you send users to with this URL links directly to a page that captures the interested user’s info.

 

7. Specific services

In this section, you can add specific services that you offer. For example: if you are a local spa, you can add “massages” as one service and “facials” as another.

By doing this, interested searchers will have a better idea of what you offer, and be more enticed to click through to your website.


8. Keyword-rich description

The description section allows up to 750 characters. You want to take advantage of this. In this section, it is a best practice to include keyword-rich content. This is because there are not many opportunities in the GMB to add content that you want to rank for.

With the description, however, you have the opportunity to include these keywords that will help Google understand what your business is all about and what type of searches it should show your profile for.

By doing this, you are increasing your chances of ranking for your target keywords.

 

9. GMB posts

Google My Business posts are a relatively new feature that very few local businesses are taking advantage of. They allow you to make a post that shows up directly on your GMB profile.

This is a great opportunity to again include keywords that you want to rank for. GMB posts are especially effective when there’s a discount or coupon included, too.

This way, when someone finds your business on Google Maps, they can immediately see the promotion that you currently have going on.

This, coupled with the fact that most other businesses aren’t using this feature will give you an advantage over your competitors.

 

10. Reviews

Reviews are especially important in making your GMB profile stand out. It’s one challenge to get your business to show up in Google Maps as one of the three options, but it is a whole other challenge to stand out from these 3.

Creating a review strategy for your GMB is crucial in any local campaign.

Whether it be 10% off for a review, a discount on a future purchase in exchange for a review, or any other variation of this – it is best to have some sort of strategy in place to ensure you are collecting 5-star reviews to build a strong GMB profile that entices clicks and interactions.

 

11. Photos and video

You also have the option of adding photos and videos to your profile. And, of course, you want to take advantage of this.

Uploading photos and videos of your business provides you with the ability to communicate your brand story and personality to interested searchers. It also makes your profile look much more active and complete.


12. Local and NAP citations

As stated in #2, having a consistent business name, address, and phone number across the web is crucial to your GMB rankings.

Since we have ensured that our GMB’s NAP is indeed correct, now it’s time to actually go out and put this NAP information on other websites.

How do you do this?

You list our business on as many local, relevant directories as possible.

Listing your business on such directories with your NAP present and a link pointing back to your website will signal to Google that the information on this linking page is indeed relevant to your site.

These types of links are called “citations”.

And the higher the number of citations that we get pointing back to our site, the more our local relevance will become established in Google’s eyes.


Conclusion

A Google My Business Profile is the profile that shows up in Google Maps for search terms relevant to your business. Within your profile, you are given tools to enhance it and make it stand out from your competitors. By taking full advantage of the tools given to you by your GMB, you will be well on your way to ranking your website in Google Maps.

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