In the past ten to twenty years the Internet has revolutionized how companies of all sizes conduct their business, including how they implement their marketing campaigns and seek new customers. In this continually changing environment the only businesses that will survive in the long run are the ones which understand how to use the novel marketing techniques used on the Web.
Search Engine Optimization, in short SEO, is a service enabling an online business to appear in google search results. Both google and the field of SEO are changing very fast, and this applies to small businesses as well as large ones. But a small business will not have the budget for a marketing department, whereas a large business will likely have its in-house SEO experts.
So the burden of understanding how to best manage their brand online often falls on the shoulders of the small business owner himself. And he needs to adapt fast.
Small Online Business Marketing
The methods of the past such as newspaper ads, radio ads, flyers are not catching the eyes of the modern buy-eras much as they used to, as nowadays people spend so much time online this is where their shopping mindset lives. That’s why a small business owner must leverage SEO techniques to get his brand in front of potential buyers on the Web.
In 2019 and beyond, when someone searches on google for a product or service they are interested in, they will normally see paid ads (google Adwords) on top, then google map results, and finally google organic results. Google ads are not the topic of this article, but they can be used as well, at a cost. This leaves us with google map and google organic results, which both are free of charge from google and fall within the realm of SEO.
Organic results are the more traditional form of SEO. They are just the list of results with a short snippet and a clickable link as we have all been used to see them for many years. Google map is what is newer in SEO, and this is taking a bigger share of buyers traffic to small online businesses.
Google map results
Google maps have progressively taken a larger share of google search results pages, as google keeps on changing and updating the content and display of their result pages. Nowadays google maps have become prominent in search result pages, especially when searching for local services or products.
If you type “pizza near me” in your browser, google knows to display a map as their AI algorithm comprehends you are looking for a restaurant nearby. And below the map itself you will see 3 restaurant names as well, and this feature is the Holy Grail for a small business owner.
These 3 businesses listed within the map area just below the map itself will get a lot of attention, as they are somehow in the middle of the result page. These highly visible business names will get a lot of people clicking on their links, leading them to the websites and potentially making a purchase. Such clicks are free unlike google ad clicks, and the businesses which manage to appear in the 3-pack will get a lot of visibility and traffic from such placement, free of charge.
Google map SEO
How to get in the 3-pack map result? This is the burning question on the lips of many small business owners.
This is where SEO comes into play. Google will select the 3-pack map results based on their proprietary algorithm, as they always do, similarly to the organic results. But this is a different algorithm that very few SEO practitioners really understand.
As google organic results have been analysed in depth by SEO professionals for nearly 20 years since google’s inception, the organic result algorithm is quite well understood by these SEO experts and it is quite stable and predictable over time as well. This is not the case for the google map ranking algorithm.
Google maps have only recently been heavily promoted by google with initiatives such as the local guides and 360 virtual tours, and the SEO community is only starting to realize the impact these maps can have on the bottom line for small businesses. In addition google is only at the early stage of fine tuning its google map ranking algorithm, which is expected to continue fluctuating quite wildly in the near future.
Small online businesses that can benefit from google map rankings including a wide range of activities such as contractors (electrician, plumber), service providers (accountant, online tutor), regular brick and mortar businesses (hairdresser, car repair), hospitality (restaurant, hotel) and many more. Nearly all small businesses can and should get a local map listing and rank it in the 3-pack.
The race is on for ranking in google maps. If you are a small business owner, make sure to get involved sooner than later if you do not want to miss on this opportunity. Contact a reputable SEO provider specialized in local SEO in order to get started.