So you want to rank higher in Google Maps?
It’s actually not that hard. All we’re going to do is follow Google’s local search ranking factors (specifically the local stack / snack pack factors shown below) which are the same thing as Google Maps.
You can break the main (controllable) factors down into Google My Business, citations (similar to online directories), reviews, and geo-targeting landing pages. I will also go over a few ways to optimize your website, but the factors I listed are by far the most important.
Breaking Down Google Map Ranking Factors
- Psychical address in city of search – pretty much mandatory if you want to rank in Google Maps since it’s the #1 factor.
- GMB – Google My Business, your most important profile and the actual listing that appears in Google Maps. You should have 1 per location, 100% complete with awesome photos, verified, consistent NAP with no duplicates. This goes for ALL citations.
- Citations – core online profiles and directories like GMB, Yelp, YellowPages. These are the #2 and #5 ranking factor. We will use Moz Local to fix your top 15 citations (eg. duplicates and inconsistencies). Then we’ll use Whitespark’s citation building service to have them build additional citations for $4-5 each.
- Proper categories – list as many relevant categories as you can in your citations, with your primary category listed first.
- NAP – business name, address, and phone should be consistent across all citations AND on your website. Very important!
- Clickthrough rates – whether or not people click on your link in search results. Consider writing more captivating title tags, meta descriptions, and add rich snippets to your pages.
- Reviews – get more people reviewing you on Google My Business which is usually your most important online profile.
- Domain authority – get more links to your site, which isn’t as straightforward as creating good content but I’ll give you ideas.
Exact Steps Needed To Rank Higher
Whip Your Google My Business Page Into Shape – it’s amazing how many people don’t fill this out when Google My Business are the actual listings that appear in Maps. Go through the checklist below and make sure you’ve done everything (even if it says you’re 100%).
- Login to Googe My Business
- Upload your logo
- Upload a cover photo
- Fill out everything 100%
- Verify your profile
- Get a custom URL
- Add a virtual tour (if it makes sense)
- Make sure NAP is consistent with your website
- Write a unique introduction that is 400+ words
- List all relevant categories, primary category listed first
- Upload as many photos as you can in the “photos” tab
- Find/delete duplicates by searching your phone in Map Maker
Get Those Moz Local Scores Up – Moz Local analyzes your top 15 citations and tells you how to fix them (and includes direct links to your profiles). Fixing them is often as easy as uploading more photos, fixing inconsistencies (like www vs. non-www), or deleting a duplicate profile. Start by running your business through Moz Local.
Once you select your business you will see 4 tabs. Go through each one and do what it tells you to do – it’s that easy. On the right you will see links to your profiles where you can update them. Obviously you will need to have your logins (a huge problem for many, so I would create a Google Doc that serves as your master password list).
Outsource Citation Build To Whitespark – remember citations are the #2, #5, and #14 ranking factor in Google Maps? Moz Local fixes your top 15 but ideally you would have 100-200 of these. If you have around $200 bucks I suggest outsourcing this to Whitespark for $4-5 per citation. They have a 4.9 star review and 200+ reviews on Google. Check out my Whitespark citation building review – I use them for myself and for all clients who need to rank higher in Google Maps.
Get More Reviews Than Whoever’s On Top – these are 10% of Google Map ranking factors but over 90% of people take them into account. Google My Business is the most important, then it depends on your industry. I know it’s a pain in the ass, but you need to do it.
Create Geo-Targeted Landing Pages – Moz created an amazing video on building geo-targeted landing pages (hint: searching and replacing the location doesn’t work, creating unique content does).
Your 1 primary keyword is usually targeted on your homepage. Other keywords (more specific products/services) should be targeted on their own page. These need to be researched using tools like Google Autocomplete so you know the exact phrases and don’t miss any.
Create an optimized landing page for each keyword using a combination of Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin, embedded Google Map, video, testimonials, and other content optimization strategies. Length is strength for SEO so just give people what they want to see.
And don’t forget, clickthrough rates are a direct ranking factor. So write title tags and meta descriptions (eg. in Yoast) so they’re appealing to click on. ‘Award Winning Chicago Photographer – Tom Dupuis’ sounds better than ‘Chicago Photographer – Tom Dupuis.’
Get Those GTmetrix Scores Up – site speed is especially important for mobile users since their internet connection can be slow. But it’s important regardless (and it’s also a ranking factor in Google Maps).
If you’re running WordPress I created a popular speed optimization guide but here’s the gist of it regardless of the platform you’re using.
- Run your site through GTmetrix to diagnose issues
- Configure a cache plugin like WP Fastest Cache or W3 Total Cache (be sure to setup CloudFlare + MaxCDN in the process)
- Scale (resize/crop) images to fit their containers
- Losslessly compress image using Imagify
- Deactivate and delete all plugins you’re not using
- Upgrade your shared hosting to a faster SiteGround plan
Correct Mobile Responsive Issues In Search Console – you will need Google Search Console to see all mobile errors with your site, since Google’s mobile testing tool only checks 1 single page. Even responsive themes can have mobile issues so I would double check.
If you’re using Yoast’s SEO Plugin you can use my Yoast Google Search Console tutorial to submit your sitemap, fix crawl errors, measure keyword rankings, and take care a lot of the technical side of SEO. Even if you don’t use Yoast you should find it very helpful.
- Add a mobile click-to-call button
- List your NAP in your website footer
- Use Siteliner to fix broken links and duplicate content
- Add blog posts targeting non-promotional blog keywords
- Use internal links to naturally build links to your pages/posts
- Add videos to your pages which improves content + video SEO
- If you take orders or appointments, give people the option to do this directly in Google Maps
FYI this is the same Adobe Training Center I teach SEO at, but we were able to rank them #1 in Google Maps for a variety of competitive keywords. We used the same strategies I listed in this guide. It won’t happen overnight (especially since Google Maps only updates every couple weeks) but be patient and you can do it too.
I hope you found this helpful! If you have any questions leave me a comment below and I’ll gladly help. I also do SEO consulting if you’re interested in working with me 1-on-1 on your Google Map rankings.