SEO – How to maximize your local business’ Google Maps presence

SEO - How to maximize your local business’ Google Maps presence

If you’re an advertiser with a brick-and-mortar presence, it’s more important than ever to claim and advertise your business on Google Maps.

However, cracking the code on how to serve and control Google Maps ads may feel like a moving target over the last few months. With changes to Performance Max goals, Google Business Profile (GBP) guidelines and how folks search for places, a lot is happening within Maps.

Still, you can successfully commandeer your business’ Maps presence by optimizing your GBP listing, leveraging location assets and using Performance Max for store or travel goals.

Do businesses really need to target Maps specifically? 

Yes. The way users search for businesses, paired with Google’s shift to highlight Maps placements within search results, makes it imperative to have a separate Google Maps strategy.

Having sitelinks driving to your “Store Locator” page and bidding on “near me” keywords is no longer enough to get in front of your customers during their search.

The future of the search engine results page (SERP), especially as Performance Max continues to dominate Google’s engineering resources, will continue changing as the shift into an AI-forward search results page runs full steam ahead.

This year’s upcoming Google Marketing Live is expected to announce further shifts in AI, which may include how prevalent Maps are in the user journey.

In the latest version of Google, Maps results are showing above any ads in the Search Generative Experience (SGE) view. As we know, this is expected to remain standard as the SERP evolves.

Businesses must claim their storefronts within Google Business Profile to get in front of users in the most organic formats and promote them within Google Ads to see real success.

Creating and optimizing your Business Profile and data feeds

Creating and optimizing your Business Profile is the first step to establishing a footprint on Google Maps.

Maintaining up-to-date store hours, phone numbers and important business information are all massive variables in a customer’s decision-making journey.

Contact information for the business, a link to the website and sourcing/replying to reviews are also key to winning your customers’ attention (and conversions).

For hotels, restaurants or any business with multiple locations, make sure your Data Feed is up to date. Add accurate pictures, menus or other helpful visuals as applicable.

What campaign types should run?

Once your store’s information is ready to be advertised, it’s time to determine which campaign type is best for your business. This will be a combination of Search and Performance Max campaigns (with either Store or Travel goals as your optimization type).

Campaigns should be structured by KPI, like all other campaign types, and not split by location unless there are different goals by store/city or need to have location groups at the campaign level if necessary.

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Campaign settings and location targeting

As you set up your campaigns, make sure your location targeting is set to capture where your customers are or may be searching from.

Location exclusions will be an important part of your setup if there are countries/cities you do not have a presence in or do not want to prioritize.

If you do not include or exclude any locations during the initial build, make sure to check your Location reports (Reports > New Report > most specific location) to identify any areas to focus on by increasing budget or potentially excluding from your campaign.

Local campaigns - Location report

Location and business assets 

Set up location assets correctly before moving into anything else. These are eligible to serve across Google Search, Search Partners, Display Network and YouTube.

Creating location assets will depend on whether or not you own the locations directly, and you can find more information about how to set them up on Google’s Support pages.

Verifying your phone number and enabling call reporting are critical to the success of your location assets so you can gauge performance.

Location assets should be added at the campaign level as an ad extension within your Google Ads account if there are regional KPIs to hit; otherwise, they can be added at the account level to ensure they are applied to every campaign.

In addition to location assets, make sure your business name and logo assets are up to date and applied at the account level. These will help boost your quality score and build brand recognition with your customer base.

Maximizing your local business’ visibility on Google Maps

Claiming and promoting your business on Google Maps significantly boosts local visibility and will attract more customers to your storefronts. Following the steps above, you can quickly and effectively leverage Google Maps to grow your business.

As Google continues to embrace AI, expect more Maps-first results in the SERP and additional features in Google Ads to make the process quicker and easier for advertisers to run ads on Maps.

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