The advent of internet marketing was supposed to sound the death knell for local business. Within a globalized and internet-driven market landscape the local store was not given any chance by marketing gurus. Small companies were set to compete against established major brands from across the globe and in retrospect. it was understandable why such sentiments were rife.

Well, the internet came and local businesses adapted to it to a point where they are now leveraging the same as their core marketing platform. Through targeted search engine optimization (SEO), local businesses are now harnessing the power of internet technology to drive traffic through their doors. Google Maps has become a core strategy in local SEO and every online marketer worth their salt is now angling to rule Google Maps listings.

Exciting Local SEO Numbers

80% of internet users own a smartphone today according to a Smart Insights Report. According to the same study,48% of consumers start mobile search with a search engine. Indeed, 71% of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business. This means that local businesses can now easily tap into the growing number of local internet users who are on mobile in order to attract them to their stores.

A HubSpot survey shows that 50% of consumers who carry out a local search on their mobile device visit a store within a day. The same report shows that 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day. The report goes on to say 50% of local mobile searchers are looking for business information such as contact details.

Leveraging Google Maps for Local SEO

In short, a local business can now leverage the internet platform to boost traffic and increase sales. Google Maps has become the ultimate local SEO tool as it makes it easier for prospective customers to find you. By adding your business to Google’s network, you make is easier to find which in turn leads more customers to your address.

Google My Business is where you should start if you want to give your business a professional look. This is a directory that helps streamline your business information, including addresses, phone numbers, business hours and other mentions, across a diverse range of platforms. The more information you provide about your business the more credible it will look and the easier it will be for you to be found.

Building a Strategy for Google Maps SEO

The SEO industry is a volatile one and every internet marketer should appreciate this. Trends come and go while even the most solid SEO techniques keep evolving. Google Maps has become so popular among local businesses that Google has been forced to tweak it severally to make it better. The most notable of these changesis the shift from a 7-pack listing to a 3-pack listing on Google Maps results.

This means fewer local businesses are appearing on Google search engine results pages (SERPs) and this translates to more competition for available slots. The importance of your business appearing on the 3-pack cannot be overemphasized considering the importance of visibility in conversion.

How do you optimize your listing for local search? Here are some expert tips to consider:

1. Have a Physical Address

This is the essence of a local business because consumers want to come and visit. In your listing, make sure the physical address is consistent and keep checking all your details and correcting them to guarantee anyone searching for you can easily use Google Maps to get you.

2. Utilize Google My Business

Google My Business is more important than ever in Google Maps SEO. Any information added on GMB is reflected on Google search, Google+ and Google Maps. Whatever device a customer is using, it is easier to find you using these details.

To ensure your Google My Business account boosts your local SEO efforts, make sure all the information is filled correctly, the location should be owner-verified, ensure the town or city you are targeting is mentioned in the title, and ensure chosen categories are consistent with what you do. All this takes time and hence the need for professional input. There are several agencies where you will find tailored assistance to handle your Google Maps marketing and at the best rates, you have to find the right one that works for your niche.

3. Consistent NAP (Name, Address and Phone number)

The business information you have provided should be consistent and up to date. Your NAP details (Name, Address and Phone number) must be the same across different platforms. This calls for proactive action from you in order to correct any wrong details in time. Different NAP details will confuse Google crawlers, which in turn affects the indexing and ranking process. Ensure you have the same NAP template on diverse platforms including Google+, Google My Business and directory listings.

4. Embed a Google Map on Your Site

This should be a priority if you are serious about leveraging Google Maps for local SEO. While you already have contact information on your website, it is crucial to embed an actual map. This makes it very easy for prospective leads to find your address. More details such as opening hours, driving directions, phone call links and social media links should also be added to the contact page.

5. Optimize with Reviews

88% of consumers trust online reviews and this is reason enough to encourage customers to review your products or services. Google crawlers will give prominence to a page that has more reviews on local results than one without. You can get more reviews by sending out emails or by verbally asking for objective feedback. People looking for personalized information will look at what reviews are saying before making a decision. While it is advisable to ask for reviews, make sure you encourage this through high standards of service as opposed to begging for the same.

There are many other ways to optimize Google Maps including creating unique and helpful content on your website, optimizing and utilizing inbound links and proper use of local keywords and phrases. It is advisable to keep tracking your rankling to evaluate the performance of your current local SEO efforts.