The Maps are prime digital real estate. It’s front page coverage for any local search. Get your business visible here and the phone WILL ring.

This area is actually called Google My Business and it’s essentially Google’s local business directly, much like the online Yellow Pages. There are two ways to get your business listed here. You can go to Google My Business and create your own profile page for your business or you can do nothing and eventually Google will list it within the maps section themselves.

If you have a new business, you should create your own profile page to speed up the process. If you have an existing business, Google will allow you to search its database to find out whether or not your business is already listed. If so, you’ll need to claim it. There’s no need to explain the process here as Google My Business takes you through the easy steps of claiming or setting up a new business profile.

Google My Business

Instead, I want to give you five essential keys to getting your local profile to show as high as possible within search results, hopefully on the first page. I can’t guarantee you’ll get there, but I am very certain that without these steps, you won’t be anywhere near the top. So here they are:

1. Choose Your Categories

When setting up your profile, choose your categories carefully. At first you will only be able to pick one category, but once your business is verified by Google, usually with a letter in the mail that contains a verification code, you will be able to choose up to five categories from Google’s drop down list.

The categories you choose are how Google knows where to show your business to consumers.  For example, if you choose the category Air Conditioning Contractor, Google will show your business to consumers who are looking for air conditioning installation and HVAC contractors. You don’t want Google to show your business to consumers who are looking for plumbers if that’s not what you do.

I can’t underscore how important it is to choose accurate and relevant categories. your categories are the first place Google crawlers look to determine where to place you in search results.

2. Fill Out a Complete Profile

Give Google as much information as possible. This can only help them show you to more consumers. Complete a detailed description of your business (between 100-250 words), add plenty of photos, set hours of operation and provide all your accurate contact information. Be sure to include a local telephone number as your primary business number so Google knows you are a San Diego company.

You will also get a chance to associate your business with a website. Choose your strongest url (usually the home page of your website). This is critical. Here’s why…

Google My Business

3. Have a Well-Optimized Website

Google relies heavily on the strength of the web page you associate with your Google My Business profile. Say you associated your profile with the home page of your website. If your website ranks really well in search, chances are that your local maps profile page will rank well, too. Your website will pass authority to your local Google My business listing. I suggest optimizing your website by using search engine optimization best practices or by hiring a digital marketing consultant.

4. Spread the Word

Google uses other websites and directories to verify your information. By scraping sites like Yelp, Super Pages, Yahoo Local, Angie’s List and others, Google will cross reference your profile details with those in other places across the Web (including your website so make sure it’s accurate).

Business Citation

Therefore, it is crucial that all this information is consistent. If your address is different in the online Yellow Pages from your Google My Business Profile, then Google is going to get confused and not know which one is correct. Having consistent company information in all the major directories is a significant ranking factor so search the Web for your company and make sure your business, name, address and phone number (NAP) is exactly the same across the Web. Here’s a list of the major business directories.

5. Start Getting Reviews

In my testing, we have found a strong correlation between rank and profiles with lots of reviews. It appears businesses that have a lot of consumer reviews in Google tend to rank better. Google doesn’t appear to care if the reviews are good or not, they just want to see real, detailed reviews.

Ask your customers to post very descriptive testimonials of their experience with you. Have them post it in Google Maps, Yelp and any other platforms that are important to your niche.

Reviews can be an entire marketing strategy on their own. I have clients that get more business from review platforms than anywhere else. In fact, consumers may never even visit the website, they’ll just call the business right from the phone number on their profile page. I suggest engaging in a customer review campaign to spread the good word about your business.

There are certainly more ranking factors than the ones I’ve listed, but if you get these first five right, you’re on your way to getting much better visibility for local consumer searches. The more traffic you get from search, the more sales you’ll make and the faster your business will grow.