How to Rank Higher on Google Maps: 10 Easy Tactics in 2018

It is well known that getting into the 3-pack on Google maps can be really profitable for you and/or your client. In fact, it is often the key performance indicator that clients look for when they come to us for local SEO services or leads. That being said, many people struggle with this, so here are 10 simple ways to rank higher in Google Maps for the city you are verified in.

Note: it is very hard to rank a competitive keyword in a city’s 3-pack if your GMB address is not listed in that city. Preferably, your listing will be near the city center.

1. Put Your Main Keywords in the GMB Business Name

This is a relatively large ranking factor when it comes to improving your Google Maps ranking. Some people think it’s so people can find the local company they are looking for. For example, when someone types in “Joe’s Roofing Company in San Diego” they probably already know they want to reach Joe and are simply looking for his information/website. Because companies naturally use keywords in their business names, Google may show a business for a high ticket money keyword simply because they think the customer typing in that keyword is trying to find that company’s information. Although this is a tiny bit spammy and grey hat, it is something to consider because you may be fighting an uphill battle against your competition if they are already utilizing this method.

Now you may be thinking, but won’t this ruin my NAP (name, address, and phone number) consistency? Yes, it will, but if your NAP consistency is already not great and you’re ranking decently, it is often worth it. You may even want to go back and change all of your NAP information to the new keyword focused business name for a possible added benefit.

2. Make Sure Your Categories Are Correct and Max Them Out

Sometimes, the GMB categories may not perfectly fit every business. Make sure your primary category is matched up as close as possible with the main keyword(s) that you’re trying to rank. A good way to do this is to type your main keyword plus various big city names into Google and copy the most commonly ranking ones. Also, make sure to max out the secondary categories with relatable categories. This can help increase your impressions for other keywords.

3. Build Niche and Local Related Citations

A big aspect of local SEO includes building niche and local relevance via on-page and off-page optimizations. For off-page, one way to do this is to build niche and local citations. One example of a local citation would be the local chamber of commerce’s website. An example of a niche relevant citation would be a roofing contractor directory. You can help these citations get indexed by linking out to them from your site, putting them through the Google mobile-friendly testing tool, or sending them to an indexing service. Remember, they are pretty much worthless for SEO if they don’t get indexed by Google.

4. Fix Your On-Page

On-page is a big factor in SEO and when trying to rank higher on Google Maps, and it is something I see local companies neglecting.

UI/UX

In 2018 your website should absolutely be mobile friendly and the load speed should be relatively fast to rank higher in Google Maps and organic search. When people are looking to call a local business, they commonly use their mobile devices. We are in a mobile first world, so a mobile friendly design and fast load speeds can have a direct ranking benefit, as well as an indirect benefit by potentially lowering bounce rates and increasing conversions.

The content on the landing page attached to your Google Maps listing should be authoritative, have at least 1k words and geotagged images, and have your keywords along with LSI versions of the keywords properly placed throughout the page multiple times. It should also have at least one outbound link to an authoritative website along with internal links pointing at it with exact matching or phrase matching anchor text for the main keywords that you’re trying to rank.

NAP Information

It is also a good idea to include the same NAP information that is on your Google Maps page, along with the proper schema markup, and a Google maps embed. If you want to make sure your schema is implemented correctly, you can check it using the Google structured data testing tool.

Bonus Tip: if you want to rank higher in Google Maps and organic search, avoid keyword cannibalization. If you have two pages that are targeting the same keyword(s), simply copy the content from the page that is not attached to your Google Maps listing and paste it onto your landing page (assuming it doesn’t get you to a total of more than 2.2k words or so), then 301 redirect the old page to your Google Maps landing page. This method alone has gotten us 3-pack rankings.

Matching Content Averages

When optimizing your pages, we recommend matching what is already working to rank websites on the first page. You can do this by manually analyzing the first page of the search results for factors like keyword density, or by using a tool like ours to do it for you.

5. Get Social Signals

Social signals are becoming more and more important in 2018 for ranking higher on Google Maps, as well as in organic search results. Social signals are basically your site’s shares, likes and overall social media appearance from the perceptive of search engines.

You can acquire them by either buying a social signals service, or by running a simple social media promotion/ad with your company’s link. This will also get you more exposure and traffic in your local area, which is also a ranking factor, and may potentially get you some customers.

6. Get More Reviews!

Reviews can help you rank on Google Maps and improve your click through rate in the search results. If you think about it, getting in the map pack is just the first step. You also need to be the most appealing business in there to actually get clicks and calls. Not to mention that user behavior and click through rates are large factors that Google considers when deciding who to rank. You can increase your reviews by putting your Google Maps review link on your business cards, invoices, and in your email signature. It is technically against Google’s policy to ask for reviews, but you just want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to at least find where they can do it.

If you choose to go the route of asking previous clients for reviews, be cautious by not getting a bunch of them all at once, especially if your maps listing is less than 6 months old or so. This can look unnatural to Google.

7. Get a Press Release Written to Improve Your Google Maps Ranking

Press releases can provide high quality backlinks for your business. There are services that will do this for you relatively inexpensively, like this one. Aside from the benefits of the backlink, it is quite impressive to your customers for your business to have links from news stations.

8. Guest Post Outreach

There are not too many things more powerful than a guest post on a strong niche and/or location relevant website, especially if you can get an exact match anchor text back to your Google Maps landing page. Keep in mind though that this should generally be done after you have done basic foundational link building like citations, social profiles, video submissions, etc. Doing this if your site is brand new and currently has very few links to it may look somewhat unnatural to Google. Check out this done for you service.

Bonus Tip: You can use the guest post opportunity to write a high quality article and rank it nationally or locally for your selected keyword(s). Simply target the on-page well, and power up the guest posts by sending links and social signals to it.

9. Google Sites/Domain Authority Stack

This can get you a boost, thus improving your Google Maps and organic search ranking. Essentially, Google stacks are a bunch of Google entities and other high authority properties interlinked and embed into a Google site. Check out the video below to learn more. If this sounds a little complicated, we understand. We recommend using this service to do it for you.

10. Be Patient When Trying to Rank Higher on Google Maps and Organic Search

If you have a new website, and you are trying to rank for a competitive keyword, you should understand that it can take time. Not to mention that doing multiple off-page/link building tasks, and getting a bunch of reviews all at once can look unnatural. Just take your time, and make sure to drip-feed all of the links. Once you have done all of this, just keep adding guest posts until you hit the three pack.

If this all seems like a lot to you, here is what you can utilize:

Have you tried any of these tactics to help you rank higher on Google Maps, or have any recommendations of your own? Let us know in the comments section!