Effectiveness of Google Maps to Drive Local Business Traffic
In today’s hyper-digital world, every business professional must understand the value of an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, one that highly scrutinized and targets the all-important Search Engine Results Page (SERP). When considering ways to drive local traffic through your physical doors and online portals, creating a strong local SEO strategy that keeps the SERP front and center can make all the difference.
The similarities between optimizing a local SEO strategy, and simply optimizing a page or set of pages to rank within search engines, begins as most things do: with research. Even though you may not be creating a strategy when you strive to optimize a single page of your business’s digital content, you will still be analyzing competing results to inspire the content and words to emphasize on each particular page.
Optimizing specific local SEO content, and simply optimizing a page or set of pages to rank within search engines, both begin as most things do: with research. The SEO Specialist responsible for implementing your content should analyzing competing results to inspire the content and words to emphasize on each particular page
Optimizing the roadmap for search engine optimization is significantly more effective than simply “doing SEO” in an attempt to rank content higher in search engine results. An SEO strategy creates prioritized action items for each stakeholder, including the SEO manager, web designers, web developers, persuasive content writers, conversational content writers, outreach and digital public relations, and (when appropriate) the paid search specialist. Peace of mind in knowing what you're going to be doing at your job is also a must for employee retention and personal business commitments.
Creating and being guided by a strategic audit-based roadmap for search engine optimization is significantly more effective than simply haphazardly “doing SEO.” An important guiding principle to remember: SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. An SEO roadmap creates prioritized action items for each stakeholder including the:
● SEO manager
● Web designers
● Web developers
● Sales content writers
● Marketing content writers
● Outreach and link building teams
● Digital public relations
● Paid search specialist (when appropriate)
Peace of mind in knowing what you're going to be doing at your job is also a must for employee retention and personal business commitments.
Knowing and understanding the specifics of what you're going to be doing at your job builds confidence, brings peace of mind and even boosts employee retention and personal business commitments.
Additionally, the research that goes into creating and optimizing an SEO strategy provides an “end-all” roadmap in terms of all of the web pages that could be created and optimized. This roadmap should be based on a number of analytics. For example, think about how users are searching for your products and services, how potential customers are trying to solve problems before they start thinking about purchasing those products and services, and how other brands in your industry find traffic based on industry content those customers crave.
The “end-all” roadmap that materializes from research and competitive analysis should identify valuable web pages that could be created and optimized, as well as the key components of your local landing pages. Think about how users are searching for your products and services, how potential customers are trying to solve problems before they start thinking about purchasing those products and services, and how other brands in your industry find traffic based on industry content those customers crave.
For executive-level marketers new to local SEO (LSEO), and especially so regarding ranking in Google Maps and Bing Maps, can be described as “The 4 Pillars of LSEO”, which should have KPI’s assigned and measured monthly with an annual goal in mind. These Pillars include:
Local Search Engine Optimization (LSEO) aims to get your brand and specific webpages ranking in Google Maps and Bing Maps. Executive-level marketers should continue to hone their knowledge and skills around “The 4 Pillars of LSEO. ” Each of these pillars should have KPI’s assigned and measured monthly with an annual goal in mind. These Pillars include:
- Data Integrity and Consistency - is the business’s information correct everywhere online?
- Webpage Helpfulness - does the page we send visitors to in our Maps and directory profiles help the user find what they are looking for? Focal points might include a map, directions, hours of operation, photos and videos, coupons and offers, reviews and ratings, or other helpful attributes customers seek. By “helpful'', we mean helpful to all types of users, including those with accessibility needs, those on slower internet speeds, Mac or PC, Chrome or Safari, etc.
- Online Visibility - Google’s core algorithm is based on patterns of inferred interest when visitors choose and remain on a selected search result. Online visibility is also measured through PageRank (votes passed through hyperlinks) and through frequencies of finding the brand or business name on a specific page mentioning keyword phrases the company would like to appear for. In other words, the more often Google finds the business information on third party websites, the more it affects that business’s keyword rankings within Google Maps.
- Reputation - ratings and reviews can influence whether or not a searcher clicks on a search result. Trust is important to most people. A low rating might be a sign of a potentially poor experience.
Traditionally, businesses located in more remote or rural areas have sometimes had more difficulty achieving a higher ranking and Maps position in SERPs. Fortunately, there tends to be far less competition for more rural businesses. Paying attention to—and routinely revisiting—the 4 Pillars of LSEO mentioned above should be enough for many businesses to maximize their keyword rankings in Google Maps. However, for businesses just outside of larger metropolitan areas, Google Maps may not be the best area to focus on. Instead, clearly convey to potential customers that the business serves the greater metropolitan area within each service page or product category.
For example, a business selling refrigerators in Plano, just outside of Dallas, Texas, might use a page title of “Refrigerators for Sale in Dallas, Based in Plano, TX”.
Another way to gain higher SERP rankings is by obtaining a greater number of 4- and 5-star reviews for your business. Contrary to popular belief, this is much easier than it sounds. By training your onsite staff to ask customers if they checked in on Yelp, it gets the customer thinking and stages a reminder from Yelp to leave a review after the visit.
Similarly, having customers opt-in to text messages for a discount while waiting in line or walking around the store makes it easy to send a follow-up text after a purchase to push the user to Google Maps, Facebook, or wherever the business would like to see the review.
Here is a simple breakdown of how this process can work:
● The visitor enters their phone number at the register or before paying.
● The number is associated with the loyalty program and that customer’s profile.
● After making a purchase, the system triggers the loyalty program that a purchase was made and the program then kicks off a text message asking the customer about their experience.
Content is said to be king, but context is what search engines will read and attempt to correlate to a product or service a visiting customer might be looking for. For example, if a restaurant would like to advertise hot wings, they’ll want to include “hot wings” in their Google My Business profile, upload photographs of hot wings, and get customers to mention hot wings when they share their experience online. The review prompt might say “share what you ordered and what you liked about it.”
Many businesses will often seek out paid advertising to climb their SEO and/or SERP rankings. Paid advertising indirectly supports organic positioning. While there is no direct correlation between either, when a searcher sees a brand appear in search results more than once, the likelihood of the customer selecting that brand steadily improves. In a similar fashion, greater prominence often leads to higher trust in that brand from searchers.
Many businesses will often seek out paid advertising to position in Search Engine results. Paid advertising indirectly supports organic positioning. While there is no direct correlation between either, when a user sees a brand appear in the SERP more than once, the likelihood of the customer selecting that brand steadily improves. In a similar fashion, greater prominence often leads to higher trust in that brand from searchers.
Specializing in strategic planning for multi-location and franchise SEO campaigns, Steve Wiideman, of Wiideman Consulting Group, considers himself a scientist and practitioner of local and eCommerce search engine optimization and paid search advertising. Wiideman has played a role in the inbound successes of brands that have included: Disney, Linksys, Belkin, Public Storage, Honda, Skechers, Applebee’s, IHOP, Dole, and others, with emphasis on strategy, planning, and campaign oversight.
In 2018, Wiideman won Industry MVP at a popular SEO conference (C3 Searchies) and helped Meineke earn the NatLo Top 30 in Local Marketing by Placeable.
Wiideman and his team have worked with Fortune 500 companies and small start-ups alike for over 22 years. His personal experience ranges from having managed or assisted with large sponsored ads budgets, to turning brick-and-mortar businesses into Internet profit machines using SEO best practices learned while studying under the world’s best organic and paid search optimization specialists.
Wiideman conducts online video and in-person presentations at various conferences and tradeshows throughout America on such topics as the history of SEO, link-earning, multi-location ranking factors, pay-per-click advertising, responding to search engine updates, and much more. He also is a frequent panelist at online marketing events and speaks at many California meet-up groups and networking events.
Wiideman designed and teaches the Website Optimization and Strategic Search Engine Marketing online course for California State University Fullerton, the SEO Tools and Analytics course at University of California San Diego, and is the author of a textbook for a popular online learning service for colleges.
Connect with Wiideman Consulting Group on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/wiideman/