Google Maps & Local SEO Ranking Factors – Checklist

Getting found on the top spots of Google Maps listings is not only becoming more competitive, but with the new ranking update called “Possum” Google filtered out massive amounts of businesses from the maps listing.

With the new update, countless businesses that used to rank in their niches in and around their location –  suddenly found themselvesfiltered out” from the Google Maps listings.

If you’re a business with local presence, chances are that you were affected in one way or another with the Possum local SEO update.

The entire “snack-pack” – as its called, underwent a complete overhaul and a data shift as Google has become more efficient in identifying businesses that were simply using underground (blackhat SEO) methods to rank on top. Sadly, even businesses that stayed clear of these so-called blackhat methods were affected with the new “Possum” local ranking algorithm update.

What’s even worse, is that Google has given us very little indication of what needs to be done to fix things and regain rankings in local maps and listings.

Thankfully, I’ve been part of some of the expert communities that have figured out how to reverse engineer factors so businesses can gain local rankings.

Below is a quick checklist of items that are key to ranking high on Google Maps and the “Snack-Pack”

  • Ensure that your Business Name, Address and Phone is accurate during Google My Business setup and verification step
  • Select the proper main Categories and related Sub-categories while setting up Google My Business page.
  • Classify your business as a Service Based Businesses or Physical Business – having a Single Location or Multi-Location
  • Avoid using virtual P.O. Boxes for both Services Business and Physical Business
  • Define the radius and regions your serve while adding your Google My Business SEO data, and mirror this information on your site
  • Ensure that your Branding signals are consistent across various properties – GMB, your website, local seo citations and other off-page areas
  • For single location businesses, ensure your homepage is perfectly setup, and footer or sidebar widgets and your “contact us” page all have consistent address
  • For multi-location businesses, ensure your site structure is consistent for each verified location
  • Structure each content page for maximum geo and niche relevant signals
  • Use Topically relevant Content on your site in the right places
  • Use Geo targeted content on your site to build location relevance
  • Interlink all pages on your site to build the perfect site silo seo that help your site stay topically relevant and help them rank easily in your preferred locations.
  • Stay safe from over-optimizing signals as compared to the top ranking competitors in your niche.
  • Use proper Schema Markup to ensure all the right signals get passed through and avoid penalties from schema signals
  • Use of driving directions and maps properly to ensure your locations stay relevant to Google
  • Create multi-tiered off-page link structures to boost your organic and map ranking signals
  • Ensure your images are optimized perfectly with EXIF data signals
  • Structure your site’s URL and directory names so they stay laser focused
  • Check your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) data on GMB prior to citation building
  • Citation submissions must cover all the core top Citation sites, Local Citation Sites and Niche specific citation sites.
  • Interlink various Google and other social properties and profile pages together
  • Ensure that you have consistent on-page signals for each content page in terms of Title, H1, internal and external link anchors etc.
  • Avoid Keyword stuffing and keyword over-optimization issues in Title, Header and core content areas.
  • Avoid content or signals that confuse the algorithm on your primary niche or location signals
  • Build out thematically relevant pages and silo structures and interlink them the right way for maximum Domain Authority build up and internal link juice flow.
  • Use a proper mix of Primary Keywords, LSI keywords and Qualifier keywords while building out content that describes your business
  • Ensure that your content spells out all the core and related services you offer in the proper content structural units with geographic specificity
  • Avoid duplicate, spun or poorly written content on your site
  • Make sure you mirror the data on GMB pages properly on your site and other off-page areas
  • Pull and embed static map of your business and location from Google Maps, onto your site
  • Structure your navigation menus to show primary pages
  • Rank for suburbs you serve by including relevant content signals about them
  • Build out niche and geo-network tiered pages to boost your rankings
  • Check and ensure that your schema markup does not contain any errors whichever builder you use
  • Use the best data aggregators to check consistencies of your citations and execute citation clean up if required.
  • Get real reviews in the right places
  • Stay compliant with proper methods and avoid blackhat systems to withstand any future algorithm updates
  • NAP data can be similar now and does not have to be exactly the same. However, do make sure it does not vary drastically and is similar logically (St. vs Street OR Suite 88 vs #88)
  • Use underscore as a separator while naming photos with keywords in file name
  • if you have contractors or employees give them access to GMB and ask them to take photos while on field and upload to GMB site directly
  • Search for a registered Google 360 Photographer for your region and get a photo shoot done and upload photos to GMB as it does help boost rankings
  • Get quality reviews, and try and get your customers to insert keywords of your service in them, by emailing them and coaching them ahead of time and asking them to mention the service they hired you for in their testimonial. Example – I hired Jim for roof repair and…
  • Respond to your customer reviews – as Google likes to see interaction with customers and will reward you in the rankings for this.
  • Don’t be worried about getting 5 star ratings each time!

This list is a basic overview of the factors and is in no way a complete step by step walk-through.

If you’re looking to regain your rankings or to jump into the maps pack for your business in your region, you should consider hiring an expert team that has a solid track record with the methods that are working currently – and not outdated processes.

In the near future, I will release a complete step by step walk-through on how you can literally rank any site in Google Maps. Make sure you sign up below if you want to be alerted when I make this post.

Need help ranking in the top 3 of your business snack pack? I can help you… just drop me a note below and I’ll get in touch!

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