Focusing on Your Local Business Ranking - Google Map Pack
By Amanda Weber
Did you know you could market your local business on Google Maps? You can.
Not only is Google Maps a surprisingly easy and effective marketing tool, but it’ll give a big boost to your local SEO strategy, too. And for healthcare providers, that’s critical.
You almost certainly have potential patients searching for services in your area right now. And if you haven’t optimized your Google Maps profile, you could be missing out on making valuable connections.
In this article, we’ll explain how marketing with Google Maps works, why it works, and how to help your private healthcare practice rank.
What Is Google Maps?
As you likely already know, Google Maps is a free service that, in Google’s own words, provides “real-time navigation and more.”
The “more” is the interesting part. Not only can you use Google Maps to guide you across town, but you can also use it to find nearby businesses. That’s everything from a dry cleaner to a Mexican restaurant to a doctor.
Google Maps is by far the most popular map app for smartphones, coming in with more than twice as many downloads as the next most popular app. Not only that, but 82% of smartphone users rely on “near me” searches when looking for products and services. And 90% of them say they’re likely to click on one of the first options included in search results.
So, what is Google Maps? A powerful local marketing tool.
Google Maps as a Marketing Platform
It wasn’t until 2014, after Google launched and integrated Google My Business (GMB) with Maps, that the feature took off as a marketing tool.
Google wanted a way for travelers to find local businesses in their area, along travel routes, and at their destinations. Information about where to find gas stations, eateries, accommodation facilities, and entertainment spots also enriched Google Maps.
The navigation service became a platform on which all types of businesses could showcase their establishments. (Anyone could quite literally put themselves on the map.)
And that's how Google maps Marketing was born.
Why Is Google Maps Marketing So Important?
A combination of Maps and GMB creates a powerful SEO marketing tool for local businesses. If used correctly, these features can drastically boost your online visibility.
Today, Google Maps has over a billion monthly users.
Google's Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) display the most relevant information based on the searcher's geographical location and keywords. For instance, if you search for "coffee," the first results would show you the three prominent coffee shops or restaurants near you.
This listing is actually known as the Local SEO 3-Pack. It includes a map and other helpful information about a trio of businesses that match the search query.
The Google Local 3-Pack appears in nearly all local searches, especially those with purchase intent. This is where you want your business to appear to take advantage of local searches.
FUN FACT: The Local Pack used to list seven businesses, but Google reduced it to three so that SERPs would fit better on mobile screens. This tells you that the 3-Pack is a highly competitive space, and Google cares deeply about mobile user experience.
How to Rank in the Google 3-Pack
Featuring in the Local 3-Pack isn’t easy, but it's still possible. Here are a few tips for optimizing your business to appear in the coveted top-three SERP position.
Understand Local Pack Ranking Factors
The first thing you need to know when trying to score local SEO points is Google Maps ranking factors. Generally, Google’s local ranking algorithms look at three main factors.
- Relevance – how closely your business matches the query
- Distance – the user’s proximity to your establishment
- Prominence – how well-known your business is
Google relies on several signals to determine these three factors. Understanding these signals will help you create a more focused optimization checklist. According to Moz’s local ranking factors study, here are the main local SEO signals listed in descending order of ranking impact:
- Google My Business profile
- On-page optimization
- Local citations
- Web traffic and user behavior
- Social media presence
Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Your GMB page is the main (and sometimes only) source of information about your business online. Google draws from the business profile to determine the business’s location, category, address, working hours, and so on.
Analyzing all this information is part of Google’s local ranking criteria. That’s why GMB generates the most impactful SERP ranking signals.
Here are a few tips and best practices for optimizing your GMB profile for top ranking.
Complete Your Profile
Ensure you fill in all the relevant information in your GMB listing. The most important entries are name, address, phone number, website, category, and working hours. Don’t leave Google or your customers guessing any details about your business.
Update Your Information Regularly
Update your GMB profile promptly every time information about your business changes.
Attach High-Quality Photos
Upload lots of high-resolution pictures of your establishment to convey visual information about its location and what it does.
Respond to Reviews and Questions
Responding to customer queries and reviews (both good and bad) helps establish social proof and sends strong signals to the search engine.
Build Local Links and Citations
Citations are online references or mentions that feature your business's name, address, and phone number. These citations typically come from local business listings or directories, review sites, news outlets, and forums.
Inbound links from authoritative local sources also build your business’s relevance within its niche. Moreover, links can actually generate genuine traffic and business on your website or at your establishment.
Incorporate link and citation building into your social media and content marketing strategies. Also, create mutually beneficial relationships with prominent local organizations and participate in community affairs.
For instance, taking part in a local charity might earn you valuable mentions on authoritative news websites.
Enhance Web UX
Mobile users account for more than half of online traffic.
For this reason, Google is particularly keen on ensuring mobile users get the best web experience. It does this by prioritizing ranking for mobile-friendly websites.
To get on Google's good side, ensure your website's performance and responsiveness are top-notch. For instance, pages should load lightning-fast, and all media, text, and functions should be clear and interactive across all devices and browsers.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to optimize your site for local search. Embed location-specific keywords throughout the site, especially in CTAs, title tags, meta descriptions, alt text, and blog posts.
If your clinic or hospital serves multiple locations, it’d be a good idea to create a geo-optimized page for each market.
By investing some time and effort in Google Maps marketing, you’ll be able to stand out above competitors and consistently drive convertible leads to your business. You only have to fill your GMB profile, manage reviews, optimize your site for local SEO and UX, build links and citations, and develop a close-knit relationship with the surrounding community. In order to get the most value out of your GMB page, you have to pay close attention to managing it.
Admittedly, this might all seem overwhelming at first. But it’ll all become clear and manageable once you break everything down and take one step at a time.
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