As a small business owner, you know that online visibility is key to your success. You may have already created a Google Business Profile, but are you doing everything you can to make sure your page ranks as high as possible in Google Maps? In this blog post, we’ll share some tips on how to rank higher on Google Maps. Read on to learn more!

Improving your visibility on Google Maps shouldn’t be a mystery. This post shows you, step by step, how to rank higher on Google Maps so more customers discover your business. You’ll learn how to optimize your Google Business Profile, a free and easy-to-use tool manage your online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing business listings, you can help customers find your business.

If you want to rank higher on Google Maps and get more customers from local results on Google, you’re in the right place.

How Google Ranks Businesses on Search and Maps

Google wants to provide its users with valuable information that helps them solve their problems and discover solutions. They want to help people find what they’re searching for. That’s what a good search engine does.

Rankings for local businesses are based primarily on three factors. Once you understand how Google ranks businesses, you can optimize your Google Business Profile to help Google provide better search results (by showing your business more!).

1. Relevance

Does your business match what a person searched for? If someone searches for “landscaping companies Austin” and you run a landscaping company, you’ll score high for “relevance.” You will rank higher on Google Maps if your business is a relevant match for what people are searching for.

2. Distance

Obviously, if someone searches “landscaping companies Austin,” they want to find companies that can serve their local area, the Austin area. Google uses your distance from the location term used in the search (“Austin”), or sometimes the approximate location of the person searching, to determine if you show up in the results. You will rank higher on Google Maps if you are close to the location specified in the search or the location of the person who made the search. Remember, the point of Google Maps is to connect people with local businesses.

3. Prominence

This has to do with your reputation. How well known are you? How credible is your business? More reviews and positive ratings can help you rank higher on Google Maps and improve your “prominence.” It’s also influenced by your website SEO and mentions of your business on the web, like in articles and online directories. If your business has a strong online reputation, you will rank higher on Google Maps.

Google’s algorithms use a combination of relevance, distance, and prominence to rank businesses in local search results. By optimizing your Google Business Profile for these three factors, you can rank higher on Google Maps and get discovered by more customers.

How to Rank Higher on Google Maps

First, claim your Google Business Profile (GBP) if you haven’t already done so. By claiming your GBP, you can manage how your business shows up on Google and update your business information so you rank higher on Google Maps. You will also need to verify your business so it is eligible to show up on Google Search and Google Maps.

Follow these steps to rank higher on Google Maps:

1. Make Sure Your NAP Is Accurate

NAP refers to a business’ Name, Address, and Phone number. Check that your business name, address, and phone number are included on your Business Profile and that the information is accurate and up-to-date. You want to make sure your NAP info is accurate because if it’s not, Google will have trouble judging the “prominence” of your business. Not to mention that if you have the wrong phone number listed on Google, it will be pretty difficult for customers to call you!

Also, while not included in “NAP,” your Google Business Profile also includes a link to your website. You should also take a moment to double check that your website address is correct. Making sure that your name, address, phone number, and website address are accurate on Google is a good thing to do for ranking higher on Google Maps, but it’s also just good business. You don’t want to confuse people by having an old address or incorrect phone number on your Google Business Profile.

Info tab on Google Business Profile manager

2. Double Check Your Business Category

Is the category of your business correct? Your category will directly impact your “relevance,” so you want to make sure it’s accurate for the type of business you run. If you’re a caterer, double check that your business category actually says “Caterer.” By having an accurate business category, you will set a strong foundation to rank higher on Google Maps for relevant searches. If you don’t have the right category selected, you will have a hard time showing up online in front of the right people.

Category on Google Business Profile

3. Maintain Accurate Business Hours

Keep your hours accurate and up-to-date. If you’re closed for a special occasion or holiday, or your regular business hours change for any reason, update your Business Profile so both potential customers and Google have confidence in your business. Google wants to show its users reliable businesses that deliver when expected.

Much like having accurate NAP info, keeping your business hours up-to-date is a good idea to rank higher on Google Maps, but it’s also just good business. If you have inaccurate business hours, users may engage with your Business Profile but leave disappointed. Imagine driving 10-15 minutes to a new restaurant you found on Google, that said they were currently open, only to find out they are actually closed. You would certainly be frustrated. Google doesn’t want frustrated users.

Business hours on Google Business Profile

4. Reviews: Get Customer Reviews on Google

Here’s what Google says about reviews and how reviews help you rank higher on Google Maps:

High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.

Reviews help you attract more customers. Reviews on Google help you rank higher on Google Maps, get discovered by more customers, and get chosen by more customers. 77% of consumers “always” or “regularly” read online reviews when looking for a local business. Simply put, reviews helps you grow your business.

ReviewThread, a review management solution for small businesses, helps you get more reviews on Google quickly and easily. You can even try it free for 14 days to see how you like it. We’ll help you rank higher on Google Maps using the power of customer reviews.

5. Reviews: Respond to Your Reviews on Google

Google encourages businesses to respond to their online reviews, both positive and negative. Here’s what Google says about responding to reviews:

Respond to reviews that users leave about your business. When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback.

89% of consumers are “highly” or “fairly” likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews. 57% say they would be “not very” or “not at all” likely to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews at all.

Respond to reviews on Google Business Profile

Responding to reviews helps improve the quality of your online reputation and builds credibility online, making your “prominence” stronger in the eyes of Google. Past customers, potential customers, and Google will all appreciate you taking the time to respond to your online reviews. Responding to Google reviews helps you attract more customers from local search results. Thoughtfully responding to reviews is something people expect nowadays. Saying “thank you” to your customers is always a good business practice.

Need help responding to your Google reviews? We know responding to reviews can be a hassle. ReviewThread offers a review response service for small businesses. We will respond to your Google reviews for you.

6. Add Photos of Your Business

Add photos of your products, services, storefront/office, and team to your GBP. Quality photos of your business build trust with potential customers and help customers see that you offer what they’re looking for.

Photos make your Business Profile more attractive and engaging in local search results. Google likes it when users engage with their products. Here’s a hint: If you want to rank higher on Google Maps, do the things that Google likes!

Photos tab of Google Business Profile manager

Be sure to add your logo to your Google Business Profile, as well as a cover photo (a photo that best represents your business. To really help your business stand out, add photos to showcase features of your business and attract customers. Photos like:

  • Photos of the exterior of your storefront
  • Photos of the inside of your business/office
  • Photos of your products
  • Photos of your team providing services to customers
  • Photos highlighting your team (management and employees)

Important: All of the photos you add to your Business Profile must comply with Google’s photos and videos criteria.

7. Add Your Products and Services

Show customers what you offer by adding your products and/or services to your Business Profile. You can include a description of the product/service, the price, and a link for customers to learn more (for products). This helps customers quickly determine if your business offers what they are searching for. Having your products/services listed on Google will also help you set yourself apart from competitors who have incomplete Business Profiles.

You can think of the products and services sections of your Google Business Profile as expanding upon your business category. You get to show customers more specifically what you do, so they know what to expect when they give you a call, visit your website, or visit your store/office. When customers have more clarity about what you do, they are more likely to spend their money with you. More clarity, more sales.

Bonus Tips to Optimize Your Google Business Profile

1. Add a Compelling Business Description

Google gives you 750 characters in the “from the business” description field to tell customers what you offer, what sets you apart, and anything else that’s helpful for customers to know. It’s a space to introduce yourself to potential customers and tell them how you can help. We recommend that you use the copy you already have on your website—no need to reinvent the wheel. Your business description must follow these guidelines.

2. Create Posts on Your Google Business Profile

You probably know that your Google Business Profile has a “posts” feature, kind of like making posts on Facebook or Instagram. If you didn’t know about posts, now you do! Google posts help you attract more customers from Google Search and Google Maps. They make your listing more engaging for people who find your business online. Here are some things you can do with posts:

  • Promote a special offer that you are currently offering
  • Promote an event that you are organizing at your business
  • Share a positive customer review

Determine what types of posts you will create and when they will get posted. To make things easier for yourself and your team, create a Google post “calendar” – a schedule for when and what you will post on your Business Profile.

Take the First Step to Rank Higher on Google Maps

Now that you know how to rank higher on Google Maps, it’s time to take action and optimize your Google Business Profile. We recommend that you start with a FREE reputation scorecard for your business.

Your reputation scorecard will give your business an overall “reputation score” and show you how your Google reviews compare to the Google reviews of your local competitors. It will help you discover opportunities to improve your online reputation and rise above your competition. How does your average rating compare to your top 3 competitors in your local area? How many reviews do you have compared to your competitors? Who has the most recent, positive reviews? All of these questions will be answered with your reputation scorecard. Your reputation scorecard will help you see how you can rank higher on Google Maps using online reviews.

Reputation Scorecard

Get your reputation scorecard here (it generates in seconds). Focusing on your reviews is vital to rank higher on Google Maps and attract more customers.