9 Ways to leverage Local SEO and Google Maps for your Business

When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO) and digital marketing for your business, one must pay attention to things beyond just their own website, especially if you own a local business. In the past couple of years, digital marketers have gradually understood the importance of strong online marketing efforts that include local SEO and Google Maps (or Google My Business) as well. Read our blog on Demystifying the Basics of Search Engine Optimization if you getting started on this for the first time.

If you think it’s enough to just optimise your website to perfection, then you are on the wrong path. Since July 2014, Google uses an algorithm called Pigeon. This is one of the Google’s local search algorithm updates. The aim of this algorithm is to increase the ranking of local listings in a search.

The changes in the ranking made by this algorithm are also shown in the Google Maps’ results. In other terms, when a person searches for a particular kind of business in a locality, the results will be based on user location and the listing available in the local directory.

For example, if you are searching for Spas in Chennai on Google, the search result will be like this:

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Even before the pages are ranked, there will be three map listings. The map listing will also have a toggle button – “More Places” that allows you to check for more map listings. Similarly, another search result for “Bakeries in Egmore” shows this result:

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When a person searches for “bakeries, Egmore” in the query box, he gets a result where there are three map listings and 5+ organic listings. So, even if you have the best website, it might be there at the 8th or ninth position. How many users would scroll down all the way through 8 or more entries to click on the actual website?

The amount of people who will reach until end of the page will definitely be way lesser than the ones who would click directly on the map listing or any organic listing. Hence, you must constantly watch these listings and optimise your presence in the map and directory sites. The 3-pack map listings by Google can be a marketing game-changer for your business for these have a highly-valuable exposure, thus generating quality traffic and new customers.

Here are some of the best practices that you must follow to implement a successful Google Maps Marketing and Local SEO strategy.

1. It’s is important to maintain a physical address for your business

No matter whether your business is B2B or B2C, it is important to maintain a local address for your company. This is important to rank in the Google local 3-pack map listing. Also, having a local address is an important search engine factor for local SEO. Google has reported that there is an increase in queries containing “near me” – for e.g.  restaurants near me or salons near me. The distance from the location of the user is critical in these searches.

2. Set up and maintain a Google My Business Account

Your Google My Business (GMB) account plays a major role in Google Maps Marketing and local SEO. In fact, your GMB determines and has an effect on your online presence in Google Maps, Search, and G+.

Google My Business offers a simple and easy way for you to create a listing for your business. You can also claim an existing one. You must just make sure that all the information listed in your GMB page is accurate and complete. It also gives you the ability to put up pictures of your business or a 360 degree view of your interiors. It’s also important to choose the most appropriate category to list your business. This can have a direct impact on what kind searches you show up for. What’s more? GMB is free.

3. Concentrate on your business’ NAP

Your business’ NAP – Name, Address, and Phone Number should be consistent in both your GMB page as well as on your website. Also, make sure that your business’ NAP appears exactly the same across the web on third-party websites, directory listings, and social media profiles. These citations, i.e. your company’s NAP in other websites and listings, determine the legitimacy of your business and its beneficial if your NAP is available in various websites.

4. Have a separate web page for each of your product or service

Your business might have multiple products or services. Dedicating a separate web page for each and every type of product and service can help in optimising every page. In other words, instead of over-optimizing a single page with a lot of keywords, you can optimise each page of your website with the relevant set of keywords around a theme. It doesn’t mean you need to have a page for every keyword, but make sure each type of product/service and each service area (i.e. locations) are covered.

5. Create mindful citations

Be it a citation in Zomato for your business or a mention on another website, you must make sure that the mentions are made sensibly. If you can build citations in trustworthy websites and good listing directories, you can increase the value of your local SEO significantly. Do also check out our infographic on 21 SEO Link Building Techniques.

Some of the things that you need to keep in mind while creating or building citations are:

  • Make sure that any citations about your business in 100% accurate, especially the NAP.
  • Remove or place a request to remove any duplicate listings in listing directories.
  • Try to build mentions in websites that are relevant to your industries.

6. Work towards generating Google Reviews (of course, positive ones)

Reviews in Google Places are a crucial ranking factor for the search engine. Having good reviews in Google will definitely assist you in being listed in the Google 3-pack map listings. You can ask your customers to leave a review. Alternatively, you can also offer incentives or discounts on next purchase for customers who review your service or product on Google. Even reviews from social media channels are now displayed on Google. You may also find it interesting to read our blog on Why Social Media Matters for SEO?.

7. Embed Google Maps on your site

Last but not least – embed the Google Map of your business’ location on your website in the “contact us” page. This technique is a proven way to boost the SEO value of your website. This needs to be combined with Local Schema to give Google complete visibility on what kind of business is being run.

Many business owners have found Google Maps and Local SEO marketing to be intensely helpful and beneficial for their businesses. Have you started applying these best practices? Let us know in the comments below.

8. Make sure your website & blog are super fast

In recent times there has been a lot of talk on website speed and implementation of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to ensure that experience on mobile and desktop is fantastic. This is critical even for a local business because blog content focussed on your city or location of business can be crucial in attracting the right audience. For example, one of our most popular blogs is on marketing events in Bangalore and we created this to target marketing professionals in the city when we first launched our services there.

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9. Build a brand

Google and other search engines are starting to not only reward content that is customised to users (in this case content can be customised to a local audience) and they continue to show preference for sites and brands that users already know of. Hence its critical to keep track of how many users are searching for your brand (Google Analytics and Google Search Console can help with that) and not just for the product & service that you are offering.

Vikas speaks at Retail Summit on Winning the Connected Consumer

Earlier today, I spoke to a packed audience of retailers (omni channel and offline retailers) at the Chennai Retail Summit held by Retail Association of India (RAI) at ITC Grand Chola. I spoke on Winning the Connected Consumer, The Digital Way and you can see my slides below.

Local SEO and digital marketing for retailers is very critical in this connected world. Its very important for them to leverage a mobile first strategy to capitalize on every micro moment.

 

How Omni Channel Retail can use digital to connect to consumers

How mobile search can help offline retailers in India

While some might say that digital has opened the doors to online players and has blurred the existence of local retail stores, new research says that the relationship between digital marketing & in-store shopping is far more interconnected than that. Foot traffic & word-of-mouth which were the assets of offline retailers before digital & mobile entered the lives of people, are not anymore the only assets which can be relied on.

Local retailers, in general, believe that online marketing works only for e-commerce websites. But, digital doesn’t just drive e-commerce, it actually gets consumers into local stores.

Connecting offline retailers to the mobile users

We are living in “always-on search world”, where people are always able to search. When they want to buy things or when they do have a query, they turn to their smartphones. Consumers now spend more than 15 hours per week researching on their smartphones.

Impact of mobile on the store visit

There was a time when people would have to get to their computers. But now, searches on the desktop have dropped as mobile is always in reach. It is found that 21 percent of in-store shopping in urban India is influenced by digital and 18 percent is influenced by mobile. If you have a physical store, then mobile search is the new threshold to your store.

Store visits after online research

Most offline retailers in India are not aware of various mobile marketing techniques which they think are only for e-commerce players. This has led to them not making efficient use of the web to provide necessary information to the customer. Whereas, according to research customers are likely to go to an offline store when they find the store they are looking for listed in search results. It is found that 3 out of 4 shoppers who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores.

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    Image source- https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/

The retailers need to realize that consumers shop digitally before going into the store and they should make sure they provide all the information that customers are looking for online. Thus, retailers should have the right digital marketers as this will help to drive more customers to visit the stores.

Online Advertising Techniques To Create Online Presence

What most offline retailers lack is the right guidance how digital marketing can be leveraged to bring sales. There are many different ways in which the visits to their local store can be boosted.

  • Search Advertising

This is the most effective method to reach out to as many customers as possible as shown by recent statistics. Many big companies engage in Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. This is because PPC ads work in a way that brings best customer attention with minimal expenditure.

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Brand Search Advertising reinforces the brand name, increases brand value and brings about brand awareness. These ads are so effective because they give the customer all the information he/she needs to know about the brand within a few lines. This way the customer does not spend a lot of time reading the ad, but manages to get the required information.
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Also, ads can be shown to the people who search for the products using relevant terms. For example, one who is looking for a laptop store close to his location can be targeted using relevant search terms like laptop store near me, laptop stores in Chennai, which people normally use.

Another advantage of the PPC ads is that they can be targeted to the desired audience of a particular location, preferably places around their stores using Radius targeting. This way the ads are shown only to the people who might be interested in the product or service and more likely visit the store.

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Since the retailer is charged each time these ads are clicked, showing these ads to a targeted audience will result in an increased conversion rate which will in turn result in an increased ROI. Where they appear is chosen by the retailer, but its ranking is decided by Google based on a number of factors.

  • Organic Search Listings

This is the most traditional method by which offline retailers can show up on a customer’s search field below top PPC ads without having to pay a penny. A link to the retailer’s website automatically shows on the customer’s screen when he/she searches for something relevant to the products offered by the local store.

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Where the retailer’s website is listed is again decided by Google based on the relevance of content and other factors. What the retailer should ensure is to provide the right and relevant content on the website of the store so that it shows up higher in the  organic search listings. Hence, by this way the store can get a few more customers to visit its website by making sure it has a user -friendly website.

  • Google Business Local Listings

An important feature that drags customers to stores near their current location is the store locator available on Google. Using this feature the customers can know exactly how far the store is located from their present location and they can head straight to the store with the navigation feature of Google maps. Hence it is essential that all stores add their location on Google using Business map locator.

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When a customer searches for something like textile stores, a list of textile stores nearby his/her location shows up with the address information of each store. By clicking on any of these stores in the list the customer can know exactly how far the store is and how long will it take to get there with the help of Google maps. Hence, if a customer knows that a store is close by to his/her location, then it drives the customer to visit the store.

  • Tracking Results

In order to track the source of the leads that we receive through the above advertising methods, it’s recommended to generate unique phone numbers for each advertising channel. This way we can measure the effectiveness of each channel.

Digital bridges the gap between customers and stores

Today the consumer’s path to purchase is becoming increasingly mobile. Retailers that provide relevant, local information online will increase both reach and sales. While helping to drive customer in-store it will also help to enhance the customer’s experience once he/she has entered the store. Mobile has reshaped the way the people shop, that is in a good way and retailers who make use of this in the right way will see themselves moving ahead.