Rank in Google maps fast – Top 10 critical ranking signals revealed (2019)

Learn what signals really matters to Google when you want to rank in Google Maps so you can improve your business visibility in the best possible way.    

Video Transcript

Ranking in Google maps is key to every local business.

The higher your business ranks, the more visitors you website will receive and the more customers you’ll get.

The question is, how can you make your business rank in the top 3 results, so it features in the Google map pack without having to wait for months. 

In this video I am going to go through the top 10 most influential ranking signals Google uses to rank businesses in Google maps, so you can focus on them to climb onto the Google maps podium in record time.

This countdown is based on the result of a survey which is conducted every year by the very reputable moz.com asking hundreds of local search marketers and their clients what strategy works best for them in local search.

From this a top 50 local search ranking factors is drawn which helps understand business owners what signals they should focus their efforts on.

If you want to find the full survey results go to https://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors

But Today I will cover the top 10 ranking signals which will help you rank in the Google Local pack.

Ranking signal number 10#
Claim your GMB listing and make sure it is 100% complete.

I am going to state the obvious here but having a Google My business listing is clearly essential. If you haven’t claimed your business on Google yet do it today. Watch my video “how to add your business to google maps “if you don’t know how. But most importantly, once you’ve claimed your listing, make sure you provide as much information about your business as possible. The more complete your profile will be, the higher you will rank as it is a ranking signal to Google.
Add images, website links, a phone number, your operating hours, opening date, amenities. You can also add posts and a list of questions and answers which you can fill in yourself. Do not leave any stone unturned.

Ranking signal number 9#
Domain authority of your website.

If you don’t know what domain authority is, here is a brief definition

Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz.com that predicts how well website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs).
A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank

The domain authority is calculated based on the combination of volume and quality of links pointing to your website (draw a graph with links) .  If your competitors have a higher domain authority than yours, they are likely to rank higher.

If you want to check your own domain authority and compare it with your competitor’s here is a handy tool you can try.

Enter your website address in the main field along with the address of your competitors then click on check authority. You will be able to see if the authority of your website is weaker than the ones of your competitors.

To improve your domain authority you will simply need to increase the number of links pointing to your site and make sure they are quality ones.

Ranking signal number 8#
Consistency of your business Citations

Once again, let me explain what this means. A citation is a mention of your business on the web which generally includes your business name, your address and your phone number also known as NAP.

Citations are generally found in business directories such as Yell.com, Yelp .com and of course Google my business, Bing business, apple maps and many more.

Listing your business in these is generally easy and free. Since google uses the information listed in these directories as a strong SEO signal to help them rank businesses in google maps, I strongly advise you start listing your business in key directories if you haven’t done it yet.

To help you speed up the process I have compiled a page of the most important directories you should consider listing your business in, just go to the address displayed on your screen or in the description.

But be aware of one very important point. The accuracy of the information you will be providing is crucial. The name, address and phone number of your business must be listed exactly the same in each directory, otherwise you may send search engines off track.

Here is an example of a dentist located in London called “Camden High Street Dental Practice”

Although t is correctly named in Google my business and has the right address and phone number, when I dig around the web, I can find this business listed under a different name in another couple of directories, the dental practice, Their post code is also incorrectly displayed  in Yelp and in Facebook.

This type of inconsistency can be very harmful for your business since Google will struggle to understand which business is which.

Ranking signal number 7#
Does your Google My business category Match a broader Category of the search Category


The way you need to look at this is as follow:

According to google, for your business to get optimum results, you should use as few categories as possible to describe your overall core business from the provided list when you create a Google my business listing.

The idea behind this concept is that businesses who have chosen a broad primary  category such as” Lawyer” may have an advantage over  businesses who have chosen to narrow their category down to “divorce laywer”

Check this example, If I search for Divorce laywer in Fulham which is based in London,  The top result is a  law firm which has chosen Lawyer as its  primary category . And although the keyword I entered in Google is specific to divorce lawyer, only the third results has its primary category set to Divorce lawyer”

This means that Google will implicitly include more general categories to your business like “divorce lawyer or family lawyer” based on other factors such as how your business is being seen across the web. So your category selection matters a great deal.

But if you’re are a divorce lawyer then this is the primary category you should be selecting.

Ranking signal number 6#
Quality of links pointing to your site

Google revealed in 2016 that Links are one of the key signals that helps them rank websites. This also applies to Local results.

So it is no surprise to see this signal as part of our countdown.

Links pointing to your website will influence your ability to rank in the Google map pack quiet dramatically.

But don’t be fooled, not all links are made equal. In order to rank you need to get good quality links.

So, what’s a good quality link when it comes to local SEO?

Here are a few examples:

  • Try getting a link from the local news site or Local newspaper.
  • Get listed on your Chamber of commerce website.
  • Sponsor a local sports team or an association for a small fee and get your business listed in return.
  • Give a student discount that will show on a university website.
  • Get links from a third party company website you are working with.
  • If you have an accreditation claim a link on the official website.

There are many other ways to get good quality links but these are some of the most common ones.

Ranking signal number 5#
Location keyword in your Google my business title.

This is a very easy to understand signal.

 If your business name happens to include your location, you will benefit from a significant ranking boost in google maps.

Here is a great example:

If I look for a dentist in Twickenham the top result is a business called “Twickenham dental care” which legitimately includes the keyword location in its name.

A lot of local business owners have understood this concept very well and add location keywords as part of their business title even though their legal name doesn’t include any reference to their location.  This will often help them rank in the google map pack unfairly.

Here is an example of a business doing just that.

If I search for a solicitor in Brighton, the first result that comes up is, Burt Brill & Cardens Solicitors Brighton

But if I check what their legal name is, it’s simply Burt Brill & Cardens Solicitors. There is no mention of their location as part of their name which means they are gaming the system.

This is totally against Google’s guidelines and is seen as spam as it falsely represents their business in Google search results.

If you find one of your competitors doing such thing watch my video on how to fight back against those spammers

If you are only starting out and have yet to decide what you will call your business, I strongly recommend you consider including your location as part of your name. 

Ranking signal n# 4
Is the service you offer or product that you sale part of your Google my business title?

Just like the location keyword, having your product or service keyword as part of you title in Google my business is a strong signal to Google. It’s even stronger than having your location in there.

When I search for “Cardiff electrician” for instance, the Google map pack displays three businesses, all of which have their service “electrician” as part of their title.

These businesses have also combined it with their location keyword, “Cardiff” which gives them a great advantage against potential competitors and that’s why they rank highly in the map pack.

Once again, you need to adhere to Google’s guidelines and not add any keyword in your business title to gain an unfair advantage.

Following a closer inspection of the results, only one of these businesses is using its name genuinely. 24-hour electricians Cardiff. The other two, AARDEE and RYLEC have clearly added both the location and service in their Google my business listing to game the system.  

The recommendation here would, once again be, if you are just starting out, make sure you choose a business name that includes  your service or product along with your location as it is a deadly combination to rank in the map pack.

Ranking signal n# 3
The business category associated to your Google My business profile

When you create a Google my business listing for your business you will need to choose a Business category.

The category you choose will influence greatly how your business ranks in Google maps for the keywords related to that category, that’s why it sits at number 3 on the signals list.

The problem is, choosing a category is not as simple as you might think.

If you are a pizza take away business, then your primary category should be “pizza take away”. This will help you rank for any “pizza takeaway” related keywords in your local area”

But what if you are a broader type of business such as these guys, https://hamiltongroup.co.uk/ who do pretty much everything from Plumbing, heating, electrical and much more? Which category should they choose as their primary category? Not so simple anymore.

The recommendation here would be to choose a primary category where they think their business is either most lucrative or in which they want to expand, let’s say Bathroom remodeler for example, and add the other services as secondary categories such as drainage service and waste management service which should still help with rankings for related keywords.

Ranking signal n# 2
Is your physical address in the city of search?

This one is straight forward. If your business address is in the city or location for which a search is conducted, then you have more chances in featuring in the map pack.

For example, if I search for a solicitor in Balham which is in London, I can see the three results displayed in the map pack are all located in Balham.

This signal is so strong that if your business is not in the location of search you literally have no chance of ranking in the map pack. You can still however rank for classic organic results. For more info on this topic just watch my video “how to rank in google for multiple locations”

Ranking signal n# 1
Proximity of the business address to the searcher

This has become the strongest ranking signal of them all. With the explosion of mobile devices and improvement in GPS technology, Google is now able to determine a user’s location whether he is using his desktop or his phone. The map pack results will be therefore completely adapted to the location of the searcher.

If I search for the keyword “coffee shop” from my house without specifying my location, Google will show me the nearest coffee shops available in my area.

Conducting the same search from my office will show me a completely different set of results which are adapted to that very location.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to optimise your business for this signal as it is completely dependent on the searcher’s location.

This takes me to the end of the most important signals you need to take into consideration if you want to rank in Google map fast.

  • So just to recap, to make it to the google map pack podium you must
  • Have a business located in the area searched for
  • Choose the category that is most suited to your business
  • Try adding the service and location keyword as part of your business name 
  • Build quality links to your website
  • Build business citations
  • Have a fully completed Google my business profile.
  • And of course, don’t forget to create quality content on your site which wasn’t mentioned on this list.

You now have the magic recipe so time to roll up your sleeves.

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