One of the most well-defined and researched parts of search engine optimization for websites are local listings. Google and Bing have made huge investments into making local (and mobile) a high priority when it comes to refining search engine results.
As more and more users and resources are directed at local searches (in connection with mobile devices), the importance of local listings including maps cannot be understated.
Let’s look at what makes local maps so important for your business (and even if you don’t have a location for customers to visit).
Local Maps Are Essential For All Businesses
Maps are an essential part of listing your business on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. These are the two primary local platforms for business information; Google because it is Google and Bing because it is Microsoft. Bing just turned ten years old and while it trails Google in terms of ad revenue it can’t be ignored because of its leading position in the growing voice-search category (Bing/Microsoft is the search-engine power behind Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri voice-search platforms among others).
Being a part of local maps is part and parcel of listing your business on either local platforms. Even if your business does not have a way (or need) for customers to actually “walk-in.” So what value does it have? Local platforms like Google My Business are key factors in search engine results.
Having complete business listings that are up-to-date on the local platforms is an essential part of any local SEO program but as we can tell, it has a wider impact on overall SEO for your business niche, category, or industry.
Local Maps Influence Trust
Trust factors have a direct impact on customers when they search for a product, business, or service. Having incomplete or contradictory information appear on search results lowers the amount of trust customers have in what you are telling them in the search results. Local maps along with correct and current name, address, and phone number (NAP) citations, reviews and other factors are very important to trust. And trust (even just a small amount) is a part of the reason why a customer will click on one search result over another.
Think about it. Two businesses, same product and in the same city. One has a complete listing including the map and NAP citations and one has no map, and two different listings of opening hours. 8 out of 10 will select the business with the complete listing.
Local Maps Get Your Business Found
Sounds simple. You need a map to find things. But let’s look a little downstream from this simple notion.
Your business is on a map and your customer is too. Connecting the two is at the core of what search engines do. As searches move more and more away from desktop to mobile, maps are even more important. Where your customer is located (using GPS and other factors) helps Google and Bing provide search results that are relevant to customers. There is no sense in showing plumbing companies located in Memphis when the customer is searching from Little Rock so Google and Bing don’t.
What they will do is show the customer the most complete and relevant content available that is nearest to the customer that the search engine can find. You’re not on a map? Good luck. It’s a roll of the dice if your business will show up for that search.
These factors remain true even when your business does not have a location for customers to visit. They are probably even more important for these types of businesses as opposed to “brick and mortar” stores and offices because without a physical walk-in location, these types of businesses can lack in other important ‘signals’ that Google and Bing follow.
Let’s look at an example. You’re a plumbing service business in Little Rock. Your company provides 24/7 drain opening. You have a warehouse (maybe) and no way or reason for a customer to walk-in. You still need a listing on the local platforms, including the map (though it won’t show a street address) in order to have an opportunity to be shown on search results. The key is the map which positions you relative to those customers searching for drain opening services. A business that does have a reason for customers to “walk-in” will not have an advantage based solely on maps. They work the same for both.
Local Map is a Key Part of Byrd Digital Local SEO.
As a key part of Google and Bing search engine results, Byrd Digital focuses a part of our local SEO programs on making sure they are done correctly and completely. We integrate this into a larger local program that also includes local NAP, citations, and reviews as well as search term and competitor analysis, on-page content optimization, and local links.
Our local SEO program is built using the tools we use for our own businesses every day. That means we are not experimenting or “figuring it out as we go.” We know these tools work and we personally count on them. And we can make them work for your business too.