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.
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
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
From this a top 50 local search ranking factors is drawn which
helps understand business owners what signals they should focus their efforts
If you want to find the full survey results go to
But Today I will cover the top 10 ranking signals which will
help you rank in the Google Local pack.
Ranking signal number
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
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
Domain authority of your website.
If you don’t know what domain authority is, here is a brief
Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score
developed by Moz.com
that predicts how well a 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
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
To improve your domain authority you will simply need to
increase the number of links pointing to your site and make sure they are
Ranking signal number
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
Does your Google My business category Match a broader Category of the search
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
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
Quality of links pointing to your site
revealed in 2016 that Links are one of the key signals that helps them rank
websites. This also applies to Local results.
it is no surprise to see this signal as part of our countdown.
pointing to your website will influence your ability to rank in the Google map
pack quiet dramatically.
don’t be fooled, not all links are made equal. In order to rank you need to get
good quality links.
what’s a good quality link when it comes to local SEO?
are a few examples:
Try getting a link from the local news site or Local
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
Get links from a third party company website you
are working with.
If you have an accreditation claim a link on the
are many other ways to get good quality links but these are some of the most
Ranking signal number
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
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
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
who do pretty much everything from Plumbing, heating, electrical and much more?
Which category should they choose as their primary category? Not so simple
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
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
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
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