Everyone cares so much about ranking in Google’s regular everyday search that they often overlook the significance of other forms of search — even those within the Google ecosystem. But surely standard search is so dominant that other types don’t really matter?
When taking your first steps into creating your startup company, there are many things you can do to pro-actively push online exposure. Ranking your Google My Business in the Google Map Pack can give your startup company that boos it requires.
Well, no. Other search forms can be very important, making this kind of myopic approach very costly. While it’s important to nail your long-tail keywords and get your on-page SEO on-point, your ranking responsibility doesn’t stop there.
One area of search that demands your attention is local search, mostly relying on map applications (usually Google Maps). Any brand with aspirations to excel in a specific area would be foolish not to care about when and how they appear in map searches.
But you might ask why: what makes local rankings so significant, exactly? Allow me to explain. Here’s why you need to care about how you rank in Google Maps.
Search is increasingly local and mobile-dominated
The ecommerce boom has, for some, negated the importance of a business location. When you can order and have products delivered anywhere in the world, does it matter where your business is located?
In short, yes and no. While many aspects of business can be coordinated online such as shipping and operations, locality still matters for many enterprises. This is especially true for those that offer or benefit from a local service such as restaurants or personal consulting firms.
Consider this: with every year that passes, mobile traffic makes up a larger slice of the overall pie. Trends suggest that around 60% of Google searches now come from mobile devices.
We rely on our smartphones and high-speed 24/7 data connections so much that our expectations have fundamentally shifted — moving away from clunky generic desktop searches and towards personalised and customised mobile experiences.
And since Google noted a while back that nearly a third of mobile searches have local intent, simply rolling with these figures leads you to the conclusion that close to a fifth of all Google searches are location-specific mobile queries.
This is a significant portion of the whole, but that’s not the only reason why you should care about local rankings: you also need to be aware of how powerfully actionable a local search can be.
Think about the different significance of a search string like “best ice cream” in mobile and non-mobile scenarios. Someone searching on a desktop computer is more likely to simply be conducting research with the intention of perhaps buying some ice cream at a later point.
However, someone searching on a mobile device is more likely to be interested in buying some ice cream imminently from a nearby store. If you cater to the latter, you’ll benefit significantly.
Local competition is often beatable
We looked at a generic search string in two scenarios, but let’s now look at location-specific searches (and factor in the extent to which Google will weight results based on local elements).
Something generic without any local indicators is going to be extremely difficult to rank for, because you’ll be competing with businesses from anywhere and everywhere — including the biggest brands around.
But then think about a generic query plus a locational modifier. Instead of “best ice cream”, what about “best ice cream in Manchester”? That will significantly cut down on the results, and start to reward the sites that tailor their content for Manchester in particular.
If you have a physical store, you have the local credibility to target this kind of query, so be sure to use it.
The cost of improvement is typically low
You might acknowledge everything noted so far but conclude that local Google Maps rankings aren’t really worth pursuing, because they’re not as important as regular rankings.
And they’re not, but the difference in improvement costs is significant. Beyond the basics, general SEO is arduous long-term work, factoring in countless complicated elements.
Local ranking, however, has a much lower ceiling, which means you can effectively max out your SEO work without spending a lot of money. Because it’s so inexpensive to do, it makes no sense at all to ignore it.
Get it done now, and you won’t have to do much with it for quite a while. Here are some things you need to do:
As well as including place names in your copy and titles think about any slang terms that might be relevant to your area. Is there something notable about the way people phrase things near you? You might find that an aspect of the local dialect causes people to search for slightly different terms —- terms that you could easily rank for.
Register on Google My Business
The instructions are quite easy to follow, and the only practical step will involve verifying the location of your premises. Once you’ve fleshed out your profile and added some images and contact details, you’ll essentially be done with this part.
Make your location clear on your site
If someone finds your business through a local search and visits your website for some details, they’ll want to find some confirmation that they’re in the right place.
Beyond these, you can also start engaging with your local community on social media to encourage people to leave reviews on your Maps listing.
The more positive social proof you can provide, the more likely people will be to choose your business, and the better your ranking will ultimately become. It’s a powerful loop, so make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.
So, to recap, why do you need to care about ranking in Google Maps? Because it’s an incredibly popular and powerful platform that plays a critical role in the lucrative local buying market. It would be highly inadvisable not to make it a priority!