Google Maps is more than just a map – for businesses that appear on it, it’s a marketing directory capable of giving customers directions to your premises, opening hours, contact details and a host of other important information.
To maximise the performance of this channel, there are a few things you can do. These include:
- Make sure the basic information displayed about your business is correct
- Claim your Google My Business page and add more information to your listing
- Optimise your information to improve your ranking in Google Maps search results
- Analyse data from Google My Business for insights into your Google Maps audience
- Use location marketing methods across your website for a cohesive campaign
In this article, I’ll look at some of the best Google Maps marketing methods, from the simple to the more complex, all of which can help you to perform better in local search results.
Marketing Directly on Google Maps
The first, most simple step to get started with Google Maps marketing is to search for your business on Google Maps and check that it displays correctly.
Google automatically scrapes data from the internet to create a ‘best guess’ entry until you claim your Google My Business page, so you might find your address marked incorrectly on the map, or an old trading name displayed.
You can right-click on the map and choose ‘Report a data problem’ to send a message directly to Google, to report any of the following:
- ‘Missing place’ – Businesses that do not appear at all
- Wrong address or push-pin location
- Wrong information – General updates to the info displayed for a business
- Missing roads
- General feedback and opinions
The top three options listed here are the most useful, giving you a way to directly add a missing business, update its location or position on the map, and request changes to its map info.
Arguably the most important of all is to correct your push-pin position if it’s wrong. Otherwise, potential customers who follow directions from Google Maps could end up in the wrong place.
Google Maps Marketing via Google My Business
Google My Business was previously known as Google Places and is your way to claim ownership of your business’s listing across Google Search, including on Google Maps.
Listings are verified, for example by a telephone call to your company or a postcard mailed to your business address, which provides confidence about the information on claimed GMB pages.
You can directly edit your GMB profile to provide information like your address, opening hours, contact details, special offers, respond to user reviews, and more.
This has a ripple effect across Google’s platforms, from the summary people see about your business when they find you on Google Search, to the information displayed to them alongside your Google Maps listing.
If you make it into the top three results, your business should appear as a map result at the top of the Google Search results page – which has the potential to vastly increase the number of enquiries, orders and customers you receive.
Adding new posts, special offers and responses to reviews also helps your listing to appear active and up to date. Google say replying to user reviews alone boosts your trustworthiness by 1.7 times, with 76% of customers likely to perceive you as trustworthy.
How to Optimise for Google Maps
As well as claiming your Google My Business page, you can optimise your website content for better performance on Google Maps.
By including microdata in your website code, you can tell Google if part of your page contains your opening hours, contact details and so on.
This helps Google to incorporate that data into its search results, and improves the chance for the information shown in Google Search and Google Maps to be correct.
And by making good use of microdata, as well as optimising your website and GMB page for the relevant brand name, location and business category, you can climb the rankings to appear in the all-important top three Google Maps search results.
But how can you measure this success? There are a few options, including the built-in analytics on Google Maps and Google My Business.
Analytics for Google Maps Marketing
Like other online marketing campaigns, Google Maps metrics data can provide valuable insight before, during and after your Google Maps marketing campaign.
You can see data from Google Maps along with analytics for your Google My Business page, by signing into Google My Business and choosing ‘Insights‘ from the left-hand menu.
Some of the data you collect in relation to Google Maps will differ from what you have seen in the past when promoting your website on search engines like Google and Bing.
The analytics data you can collect via Google Maps includes things like:
- How customers find you (e.g. brand name vs. location vs. category keywords)
- Where people find you (e.g. Google Maps vs. Google Search results)
- Actions taken by visitors (e.g. call you, visit your website or ask Google for directions to your location)
- Where customers are based (i.e. the ‘start’ location for those who requested directions to you)
- Photos performance (how many times your photos have been viewed compared with other businesses in your category/area)
Learning to interpret these extra metrics can turbo charge your Google Maps marketing by giving you unique insight into your customers on a location basis.
Tracking Google Maps Traffic on Google Analytics
If you use Google Analytics or another analytics platform, you might want to track traffic that arrives to your website via Google Maps.
While you can’t add your Analytics tracking code to your GMB page, you can use UTM parameters to distinguish inbound links from Google Maps or Google My Business from traffic via other channels.
For example, you could append ?utm_source=GMB or ?utm_source=GMaps to your links, and then use this to filter your Analytics data according to source so that you only see your Google Maps traffic in your dashboard.
You can combine this with GMB’s option to create a short name and URL for your business, to make it easier for customers to find you and to encourage subsequent type-in traffic.
Optimising Google Maps marketing relies on a combination of different techniques to make sure you appear in the location results when a nearby customer searches for your business name, category or relevant keywords.
Some of these steps are very simple and need only be done once, or each time your basic business details change.
Others can be worked on over time, based on your analytics data, to improve and maintain your rankings in Google Maps results, as well as to ensure you appear below the map in local Google Search results.
Combined with other methods like encouraging positive reviews and posting special offers, this can all add up to an increase in search presence, website traffic and ultimately, a significant increase in enquiries, orders and sales via Google Maps.