Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’re probably aware that increasing your search engine rankings is pretty vital for your business. If you don’t appear on the first page of search results your potential customers are likely to pass on by without a glimpse.

As a business owner your target should be to appear as close to the top of the organic listings on the first page as possible, and one way to help you get there is with Google Maps, which is a pretty useful search tool if your market tends to be local. So if you’re in Sydney and you’re looking for a brilliant SEO business to help you improve your search results, you might see something like this:

In this blog, we’ll show you how to rank higher on Google Maps and get the love that your website deserves. Here it is in just 9 (relatively) simple steps:

1. Google My Business & Website Optimisation

Begin by optimising your Google business ranking and you’re off to a good start. The most important thing to understand here is that Google needs to know where you are in order to display you in local search results, so you need to list your NAP – name, address and phone number on your website.

Ok, obviously your website is always going to show your name and contact number (if it doesn’t you better contact us now, there’s no time to lose!) but to optimise your results, it’s a good idea to place it in your footer or sidebar. Here’s what ours looks like:

Next, you need to embed a Google Map somewhere on your site (we’ve put ours at the bottom of our home page, but the contact us page would work just as well. It’s pretty simple to do – just head to ttps://google.com/maps, click the SHARE link on the left hand side, then click Embed a Map, copy the code and paste it on your website wherever you want you map to appear.

The final optimisation step is Schema, which in simple terms is structured data added to websites that make it easier for search engines to interpret content. You can find out more about Structured Data Schema’s in our recent post about Integrating Google Review Star Ratings into your WordPress Website.

Ok, now that you’re optimised, it’s time to set up Google My Business. It’s not a difficult process – just enter your business details, making sure you use the exact same NAP that you have on your website. Google will then send you a postcard with a verification code on it – just head back to your Google My Business page, enter the code and you’re done.

We all know how much Google loves images, so now you can add relevant images of your business to your site, but don’t forget geo-tag them so Google can pinpoint your location. You can do this by using a free service such as Geotag Online.

Phew! Step one included a lot of information but when you break it down it won’t take a lot of effort to get it sorted, and you’ll be on your way to ranking high in Google maps in no time.

2. Build Basic Supporting Citations

A citation is basically any site other than your own that includes your NAP and has a link back to your website. This lets Google know that you have a legitimate business and that you deserve some attention. Basic citation sites that you should ALWAYS add your NAP to include online business directories such as Local Search, Yelp, True Local and Hot Frog.

3. Competitor Citations Analysis and Replication

Once you have your basic supporting citations in pace, it’s time to check out what other citations your top competitor sites have, and then replicate as many of them as you can for your site. A great place to start with this is to chat to us about it or check out Whitespark – you can try it for free but to view your competitor’s citation sites you’ll need to pay for a subscription.

4. Google Custom Maps

Once you’ve established your Google Maps presence, it’s a good idea to customise it so you really stand out from the crowd. Street View and high-resolution satellite imagery allow you to create more engaging experiences with additional detail.

You can style your maps with custom markers, lines, colours, polygons, and images. You can also give users the ability to create and share their own custom maps and use zoom, pinch, rotate, and tilt to explore maps in more detail.

5. Google Reviews

Next time you do a Google search for something, take a close look at the results and you’ll probably see a few businesses at the top of the organic rankings that have 4 or 5 stars:

Star ratings are still relatively new in search and depending on what you’re searching for you may see a few or none of these showing up in your results. But take note – although Google continue to remain pretty tight-lipped when it comes to their search algorithm, it’s looking very likely that star ratings and reviews will help you move higher up in organic results. To find out more check out our recent blogs on this very subject here and here.

6. Local Authority Site Linking

If you want to widen your reach, you’ll have to part with a little cash but it’s a good idea to link with local authority sites such as your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI (Business Networks International). You can also donate to local charities who will add a link to your business from their site. These types of links can be a real business bonanza, so don’t overlook them.

7. Map Embeds

Watch out, this could be the easiest step to do and it’s definitely worth doing as it packs a pretty powerful punch. When you have the embed code for you business from Google Maps, create posts on web 2.0’s and PBNs using your keyword as the title, include a link to your map with the NAP as the anchor text, and embed your map. This is extremely effective and can often give you that last little bump you need to get to the top of the map listings.

8. Google Map Stacking

The Google Maps stack is an easy way to add a static responsive image map to your website. This means that there is no flash that you need to worry about, making your site work beautifully on mobile devices. You can customise the map in many ways and add up to 20 markers to identify key locations.

It’s a pretty tricky process that involves creating an optimised Google Map, embedding geo-tagged images, doing a Google entity stack, and adding a domain authority stack. Not for the faint hearted, but there’s not much we don’t know about Map Stacking so we can help you along the way.

Got a question or need a hand improving your search ranking? We’re here to help – just contact us today for a chat.