Google Maps marketing – and the way your business appears on Google Maps in general – is increasingly important as mobile and location-based searches continue to grow in number.

If you have a bricks-and-mortar business, an optimised Google Maps listing is essential to provide accurate information to nearby customers, who might prefer to shop locally for environmental reasons, to support their local economy, or for faster delivery and collection.

Potential customers can quickly check information like opening hours and contact details, get directions to your premises from Google Maps, and can even see your shop front if there’s a recent Google Street View image available.

But much of the data is only as good as what you provide on your website or directly to Google – and with a little occasional Google Maps marketing, you can significantly increase footfall to your premises, as well as online orders.

What is Google Maps Marketing?

Google Maps marketing means optimising the way your business appears on Google Maps.

It’s not necessarily about ranking – often the nearest relevant business will appear first in the results no matter what – but by targeting the most relevant and profitable terms, you can make sure you are that business as often as possible.

A well optimised Google Maps presence isn’t just about driving in-person visits to your place of work. In some cases, just knowing you have physical premises will encourage some customers to place an order who otherwise would not have done.

Together, this helps to increase website and physical visits, raise conversion rates and maximise order size, all by positioning your brand with the best visibility and positive perception.

Google Maps Marketing for Universal Search

Google Maps marketing has implications not only in Google Maps search results, but also for your appearance on the main Google Search results pages.

That’s because when a search has location relevance, Google will display a map at the top of the results – and when the user is looking for somewhere nearby, there’s a good chance they will check the map first.

As a result of this, well-optimised Google Maps entries are an excellent way to leapfrog your local competition and achieve what is often referred to as a ‘position zero’ ranking, at the very top of the results page.

How to Edit Google Maps Listings

To edit your own Google Maps listing, you first need to register for Google My Business and verify that you are the owner (or other authorised admin) for your business. If you work with a web marketing agency, you may want to authorise them to act on your behalf.

Google My Business allows you to directly edit the following data:

  • Opening hours
  • Phone number
  • Website URL
  • Category
  • Physical address

Editing your category can have a big effect on which search results you are included in, so make sure you give some thought to choosing the most relevant category for your business.

You usually won’t need to change your physical address unless you move to new premises – if you do, Google will ask you to verify your new address.

Edit a Google Maps Listing You Don’t Own

It’s possible to send feedback to Google to report problems with Google Maps entries for other people’s businesses – useful if, for example, you have moved into new premises and an old business is still listed there.

Just go to the relevant address on Google Maps and right-click on the pushpin or business name. From the list that appears, click on ‘Report a data problem’.

Using this method you can notify Google of problems including:

  • Incorrect pushpin location or address
  • ‘Missing’ places (e.g. a recently opened business)
  • Missing roads – useful on new-build business parks
  • Other wrong information and general feedback

If an incorrect entry for a third-party company is conflicting with your own listing, this is one way to improve Google Maps data for entities you cannot verify as your own, while improving your own Google Maps marketing and the quality of information for other users too.

Add a Business to Google Maps

If your business is not showing up on Google Maps at all, you can add it. Create an accurate and verified profile on Google My Business and you should start to appear in Google Maps search results after about three days.

After this time, if you still can’t see your premises on a map of your local area, try searching for your business name – if it comes up in the results, it could be that you need to tweak your profile to include more relevant key words and phrases.

You can add all of your locations to Google Maps, so for example if you have multiple branch offices or you open a new shop, it’s worth adding that address to make sure potential customers can find you in the area. Furthermore, you should setup utm tracking on all additional locations so you are able to make sense of the data in your analytics.

Old and Automatic Google Maps Listings

If you don’t create a Google Maps listing for your business, eventually Google will add one automatically using ‘best guess’ data it finds on your website and third-party business directory sites.

This is good because it means there’s a good chance your business is already included in Google Maps results; however, it can be very bad if the data is not accurate.

Some of the problems this can cause include:

  • Incorrect location markers that direct customers to the wrong place.
  • Obsolete Google Maps listings for businesses that have closed down.
  • Errors in basic details like contact information, opening hours and business type.

It is always a good idea to claim and verify your Google Maps listing as soon as possible, so you can submit any necessary edits to keep your basic profile up to date, even before you take the next steps towards Google Maps marketing and optimisation.

Google Maps Optimisation Step-by-Step Guide

Putting together all of the above, here’s a handy checklist for Google Maps optimisation, which should stand you in good stead for any future Google Maps marketing efforts:

  1. Register for Google My Business and verify your business.
  2. Authorise your web marketing agency to manage your Google Maps page for you.
  3. Complete your profile:
    1. Business name and address
    2. Website URL
    3. Opening hours
    4. Contact details
    5. Category/type of business
  4. Correct any old or obsolete information.
  5. Check the location marker on Google Maps and correct it if necessary.
  6. Submit corrections for any old third-party businesses still marked at your address on Google Maps.
  7. If you have multiple locations, make sure they are all listed separately on Google Maps.
  8. Add professional photos of your premises if possible.
  9. Encourage positive reviews from happy customers.
  10. Regularly review Google Maps listings for accuracy, relevance and ranking.

As mentioned above, optimising Google Maps doesn’t always mean climbing the rankings – it can instead mean making your profile as relevant as possible so that when you do appear up top, you are exactly what the customer is searching for.

Is Google Maps Marketing Working?

Done well, Google Maps marketing will pay off if there is local demand for your products or services – and you should start to see results in your website analytics.

An increase in visitors on mobile devices can be one indicator of this, as mobile searches are often more location-specific (and proximity-specific to the user’s own location, too).

You may also be able to drill down into your analytics data’s geographic report, and effective Google Maps marketing should lead to an increase in visits from your own town, city or region.

Different business types have a varying amount of potential geographic reach. A small independent local retailer might expect to see a very high percentage of traffic come from within just a few miles, whereas a big brand or ‘destination’ business might attract customers from further away.

Know your own goals and, as your geographic data starts to shift in your analytics reports, you should have a clear idea of whether your Google Maps marketing campaign is working as expected.

Know Which Numbers Matter

As with any online marketing, it’s important to focus on the numbers that matter most. For example, driving more visitors to your website or physical premises is a good start, but you also need them to make a purchase.

Optimised Google Maps listings can lead to more engaged individual visitors, who are more likely to convert into paying customers, and more likely to spend more per order.

It’s also crucial to review your Google Maps listings regularly, especially if you know you have changed your contact details, opening hours or physical address.

That’s why you should talk to your web marketing agency about claiming and verifying your Google Maps page (or adding it from scratch if you are not yet listed on there), as well as authorising your marketer as a page admin so they can keep your profile up to date.

Your location is a powerful tool in reaching local search users and potential customers in your area – don’t neglect it when mobile and geographic search are both becoming increasingly important ranking factors and sources of online and real-world traffic.