Local SEO

How to boost your Google Maps ranking

Everything you need to rank higher on Google Maps local pack and attract more customers

Quick summary
  • Failing to rank in Google Maps can lose businesses a lot of customers that might have otherwise found them via local search queries.
  • Making sure all the information in your profile is up to date is crucial to getting noticed on Google Maps.
  • Semrush’s Listing Management tool takes the headache out of updating and keeping track of your Google Maps profile—as well as all your other online listings.

Chapter I. Why Google Maps optimization is essential for local businesses

Google Maps ranking should be a top priority for local businesses looking to attract new customers and build their online presence. The map and navigation app was downloaded 25.5 million times by US smartphone users in 2021, significantly more than any other app in the category.
With more people turning to Google Maps to find local businesses, and the dramatic rise in voice search use, knowing how to rank higher on Google Maps is an essential skill you need in your local maps SEO toolbox.
Investing in your Google Maps ranking can reap huge rewards for local businesses—and the difference between ranking first and fourth is crucial for your online visibility.

Chapter II. The biggest Google Maps ranking factors

According to Google, the three most important Google Maps ranking factors are relevance, distance and prominence.
Relevant results are those which closely match the search query. This is why it’s so important for your Google Business Profile to have complete, accurate and detailed information about where you’re located and the services you offer.
A user’s distance from your business also factors heavily in your profile’s ranking, as does whether or not your business address falls within the borders of a local search area (as delineated on Google Maps). For example, a restaurant located within the boundaries of Glenville is more likely to rank higher for “restaurants in Glenville” than one just outside the town limits.
A screengrab showing restaurants that rank higher in the map pack for a local search
A screengrab showing restaurants that rank higher in the map pack for a local search

Prominence is a combination of a business’ reputation, online presence, star rating, SEO… essentially any signal that tells Google Maps how aware people are of you. This is where local map SEOs tend to focus their efforts, because there’s plenty that can be done to actively influence the ranking factor, such as campaigning for reviews, posting content and building links. Managing review generation campaigns is far less time-consuming with Semrush’s Listing Management tool—and you can further strengthen your prominence with the platform’s other useful tools that allow you to schedule regular content for your Google Business Profile and pinpoint link-building opportunities. Semrush’s Listing Management tool gives you a detailed look at how you rank in the map pack (also called the “local pack”, “snack pack”, and “Google 3-pack”), so you can reliably track the results of your optimization efforts.

Chapter III. How to rank in the map pack: The essentials

Google Maps pulls in data from your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), which is what’s displayed on the SERP when users look up local businesses in Google Search.
Assuming you’ve already added your business to Google Maps, you’ll first want to make sure the information on your Google Business Profile is up to date.
The most important thing to check is your NAP data (name, address, phone number). These should exactly match the information published on your website (and anywhere else you promote your business). Warning: Don’t try to cram keywords into your business name or you might end up with a notice from Google saying they've gone ahead and changed it, either because it doesn’t match your NAP data or because a user has flagged it.
An email alert from Google to inform an owner that their business name has been changed
An email alert from Google to inform an owner that their business name has been changed

Be sure your category, attributes and description also reflect the reality of your business, otherwise users are likely to bounce, and your Google Maps ranking will suffer.
Your opening hours must also be accurate, including special hours for holidays when businesses tend to close (you can update opening hours across all your business listings in one go via Semrush’s Listing Management tool). Telling users your establishment is open when it isn’t is a quick way to lose a customer and land yourself a negative review. Actively generating reviews for your Google Business Profile will not only result in a great first impression for users that come across it, but it also directly impacts your ranking in Google Maps.

A top florist result in the map pack with great reviews
A top florist result in the map pack with great reviews

Reply to everyone that leaves a review—even the negative ones—to build strong client relationships and show other users that you take feedback seriously.

Regularly adding photos builds trust with potential customers (it proves your business operates as claimed) and it’s an easy way to put your team’s personality across.

Bonus tip: Make sure your images are relevant to your location and aren’t promo shots or advertisements (use updates for that). Show off your building, site, entrance, interior, team members… and encourage your customers to upload pictures they took at your business too!

Updates let both Google Maps and potential users know your business is active. Share links to relevant blog posts, promote special offers and let people know what you’ve got going on!

A screengrab of a Google Business Profile update displaying on Google Maps under “From the owner”
A screengrab of a Google Business Profile update displaying on Google Maps under “From the owner”

Your Google Business Profile’s products and services sections also need to be kept up to date so users can quickly confirm that you offer exactly what they’re looking for.

Chapter IV. Advanced tips to rank in Google Maps

On top of the completeness of your profile, Google Maps also looks at your website’s relevance, organic ranking and backlinks.

Optimizing your website for local keywords helps boost your organic positions and, in turn, your Google Maps ranking.

You should also ask your developer to add schema markup code to your NAP data to make it easier for Google to find what it's looking for, as well as embedding a Google Map with your pinned location directly on your contact page for extra Google brownie points.

Google cross references your NAP data with other prominent business listing directories to check its validity, so it pays to invest in your general online presence if you want a higher Google Maps ranking.

Time saver: Semrush’s Listing Management tool is the fastest way to build out your business’ online presence. Submit your information once and it’ll be distributed to all the important directories, including Yell, Bing Places, and, of course, Google Business Profile.

And if you’re willing to pump a bit of cash into your Google Maps presence, Google Ads allows you to promote your profile natively in the local pack.

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Chapter V. How to edit your Google Maps profile

Google Business Profile has made it even easier for users to update their information, doing away with the old dashboard and allowing users to edit directly from Google Search and Google Maps.

Where to edit your Google Business Profile information in Google Search
Where to edit your Google Business Profile information in Google Search

If you’re editing your Google Maps information on desktop, search your business name on Google Maps and click “Manage your Business Profile” (or simply look up your business name in Google Search). This brings up “Your business on Google”, where you can edit your profile, read reviews, answer messages, add photos, check your profile performance, post updates, and edit products and services.
On the Google Maps app, you can also bring up the interface by searching your business name, or clicking your profile icon and selecting “Your Business Profiles”.

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Optimize Google Maps listings the easy way with Semrush’s Listing Management tool

The key to ranking higher on Google Maps is a well-optimized profile. But unless you can dedicate serious human resources to keeping a close eye on it, it’s easy to lose track.
Semrush’s Listing Management tool gives you the peace of mind that you’ve done everything you can to optimize your Google Maps rankings—and it handles a lot of the heavy lifting for you too!

Keep all your Google Maps info up to date

Growing businesses change all the time, but making sure your information is up to date across Google Maps, Facebook, Yell and all the other major online directories can feel like a full-time job. Logging into all your accounts—not to mention keeping track of all the passwords—and typing out the same thing over and over is a poor investment of your time when all you need to do is simply edit the holiday opening hours.
Instead, roll out your updates in minutes with Semrush’s Listing Management tool, which distributes your local listing data to multiple directories in just a few clicks, saving you a lot of time and energy that can be better spent growing your local business.
The Google Business Profile editing interface for optimizing Google Maps data

Suppress duplicate listings in one click

Having just one definitive Google Business Profile is essential to ranking higher on Google Maps and presenting your information clearly to potential customers (and the map app itself).
Maybe an intern set up a profile years ago, an old business with your current address still has a live listing, or an unscrupulous actor created one to affect your Google Maps success (perhaps to steal valuable leads or covertly review-bomb you).
Duplicate profiles are a serious problem, but you can rely on Semrush’s Listing Management tool to alert you when it happens and solve the problem for you.
Duplicate listings flagged by Semrush’s Listing Management tool

Make Google Maps ranking reports simple

You’ll need an objective overview of your Google Maps ranking before you can get to work on improving it.
Semrush’s Listing Management tool displays your average local position to give you a clear idea of your Google Maps ranking, uninfluenced by your user data.
And for a more detailed picture, Heatmap reveals your Google Maps ranking based on user location. See how you stack up against local competitors and quickly review their profiles to learn what you need to do to rise in the ranks (available for Premium locations only).
A screengrab of the Semrush Listing Management tool Local Rankings tab

Streamline your review management

Reviews are crucial for Google Maps prominence, so you’ll want to make sure you reply to customers promptly and keep track of their overall impression of your business.
Semrush’s Listing Management tool makes Google Business Profile review management simple by letting you respond directly (available for Premium users only) on the platform.
Plus, the Reply Rate widget lets you know when you’ve thanked them all for their valuable feedback, keeping your reputation for customer service intact.
A review management screengrab from Semrush’s Listing Management tool
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