Everyone is trying to get into the top 3 Google Maps rankings, and for good reason. Listings within the local 3 pack appear directly on SERPs for relevant keywords, making them as good as a number one organic result, if not better. When businesses are losing out on quality leads, it’s usually because they aren’t showing up on Google Maps. There’s also often a correlation between traditional organic ranking, and Maps ranking. In these cases, they ask the question outright, why don’t I show up on Google Maps? Factors influencing your lack of presence include:
- Time / Tenure
- Social Media
- Other Reviews
- Ongoing Work
Yes, Google considers each of these factors when deciding where to rank a particular Map listing. Although they don’t explicitly outline their factors, research and studies suggest that the factors mentioned above are the most important. As a digital marketing company that has been working with clients for 8 years, we can confirm that these are in fact the primary considerations. Of course, SEO is always evolving, so Google may decide tomorrow to give more weight to a certain factor, or to delegitimize another. We’re constantly evaluating best practices.
Time / Tenure
Like is the case with domain age, time and tenure are a strong consideration for Google Maps listings. Older websites rank better in organic (generally) and older Maps listings follow suit. So how long you’ve had your Google My Business and Maps profile online will be part of the formula. So even if you have more reviews than an older listing, their tenure may indicate greater value, depending on the circumstances. If you don’t currently have a Google Maps listing, the time to create and optimize one is today. You should start the tenure clock ASAP.
While it’s a misnomer that reviews are the only factor, they are certainly a strong one. When all things are equal, the listing with more reviews will almost always win out. Furthermore, the more reviews generated, the more people will click through your Maps listing, and the more customers you will convert. But this post in particular is about showing up on Maps in the first place. And make no mistake, review generation can help you achieve that goal. You can generate more reviews by integrating a website reviews widget and programming email & text reminders to customers after completing services. Try to avoid getting too many reviews in a short period of time. Google will think they’re fake, and might even take them down.
The coding of your website shows direct correlation to your Maps placement. It helps Google parcel the data, and interpret your location information, website category, etc. Much of the things that are most influential in digital marketing occur behind the scenes. Remember, Google uses bots to crawl the contents of your website, and everything produced on a SERP is programmatic and algorithmic. We’ve found that clean coding with schema markup helps our clients rank on Google Maps, particularly in the local 3 pack — the most sought after Maps placement on the web.
Google only knows you offer a particular service, if your website has a page of content for it. In other words, you might assume that you’d show up for a certain keyword because it’s obviously associated with your industry. But that’s not how this works. Google must be able to see that a page on that topic exists on your website, in order to credit you with the term on a Google Maps listing. This is especially true when competitors in your field are producing pages of content for each and every service they offer. Of course Google would give them credit for that over someone who fails to produce those pages themselves.
Even social media is a factor for Google Maps rankings. Activity on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram send out signals to Google that your brand is visible in multiple outlets. These are all considered web properties, and they help build brand diversity, something Google strongly values when determining any kind of ranking, from Maps to traditional organic. For this reason, optimized profiles on the social media channels mentioned should be part of every strategy to rank on Google Maps.
Google wants to see reviews from more than just their own platform; Google My Business. There’s many other platforms that exist on the web, and each of them send signals that your brand is relevant. Think about Yelp, which at one time was considered the most popular source of reviews on the internet. Others to think about include Facebook, BBB, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, etc. The more reputable sources you can generate reviews, the better chance you have to rank in the local 3 pack. The good news is that most companies we deal with find it easier to get reviews from non-Google sources, and often already have many of them.
DA is a metric developed by MOZ to estimate Google’s trust in a domain. While it should not be too heavily weighted, it is something to pay attention to nonetheless. Google is smarter than MOZ of course. Google knows its algorithm better than anybody else, so a 3rd party metric could be rendered obsolete at any moment. With all that being said, inbound links, which are the driving force behind DA, are still a factor in Google Maps rankings. After all, a link is essentially a vote of confidence from one domain to another. The more votes you receive (from trustworthy sources), the more trust you earn.
Stagnation is a quick way to lower your Maps ranking, which means it should be avoided at all costs. You need regular work on your website and Google My Business profile to stay relevant. That means regular Google posts as well as ongoing website work like blog posts, page updates, and coding fixes, is imperative to sustain relevance in your market. Google pays mind to each of these things and it will be reflected through fluctuations in your Maps rankings.
Like other forms of SEO, Google Maps rankings are a relative concept. If you are the only business of your kind in a particular geographic area, you may well show up on Maps by default. This assumes of course that you at least have an active My Business profile and Maps listing. Conversely, if you are in a highly competitive market, you might be doing all the things mentioned in this article, and still not appearing in the top 3. In cases like these, only relentlessness and consistency will help you eventually surpass those entrenched ahead of you.