Most businesses know the importance and subsequent benefits of well-executed search engine optimisation (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC) campaigns, but less so are reaping the benefits of Google’s local search map listings.
Local search (getting your site or business details to rank in a specific geographic area rather than to anyone throughout the country searching for a specific keyword) is essential for businesses providing products or services in a local geographic area, for example accountants, solicitors, dentists, storage facilities, coffee shops, builders and IT support to name but a few.
Local search map listings appear below the paid search adverts, with Google displaying up to 3 businesses in the immediate search listings.
You may be thinking you don’t need to worry about local search map listings because your website is already performing great on the natural search engine listings but don’t rest on your laurels. We are living in a mobile first world and in 2016, Google announced that nearly 60% of searches were from a mobile device.
On a small screen, it is even more essential to be in the maps listings. Once you have scrolled past the paid ads, you then see the local map listings before you get to the natural search listings.
Even more importantly, you can choose to ‘get directions’ or ‘call’ a business directly from the local search listing.
Let’s take the example of a self-storage facility – if you are at number one of the natural search listings that’s great. However, unless you’re in the top three of the map listings, then good luck when it comes to mobile. Why would someone scroll further down, navigate to your website, find the contact page and then enquire, when from the map search, they can call straight from the listing?
Another major benefit of local SEO is Google Reviews. About 90% of people use reviews to decide who they do business with. If I am choosing between a bare map listing and one with ten five-star reviews, I know which one I am going to call.
Once you are in the top three, that is when the magic happens, so how do you get there? Here are my top five map listing tips:
- List, verify and optimise your Google My Business account
- Audit your listings across the internet to make sure your name, address and phone number are consistent
- Use local business schema markup so Google can identify and display your location
- Make sure your website is optimised with local keywords and is mobile responsive
- Find opportunities to submit your business listings
Local SEO is perfect for local businesses with a small budget – Google won’t charge you extra for clicks and will show you how many people looked at your listing, requested directions and called you directly.
With the increase in local search on smartphones, the importance of ranking for local search has never been so important, so get yourself on the Google map.