Search Engine Optimization on Google Maps for Small Businesses with retail locations is a passion of mine that I don’t always get to indulge in on a day to day basis. Many of my clients are manufacturers or national service providers who do not have retail locations, so I only get to apply my knowledge in select situations.
That’s why I was very excited when I received the following distress call last week from a pizza place that had some problems with their listing on Google Maps; it allowed me to put my knowledge of the subject into action. I was probably over exhaustive with my response, but I thought it would make a good blog post.
Definition of the problem:
“My favorite pizza shop has a complaint with a Google search. When you search pizza in Culver City, LaRocco’s name comes up but the number below their name is for Pizza Hut. It also says Pizza Hut but consumers don’t notice that. They end up thinking they called LaRocco’s and show up asking for their pizza and get angry when LaRocco’s doesn’t have the order. I was witness to this a few weeks ago.
Apparently Google said there’s nothing they can do. Does that sound right?”
I knew right away what was happening, as I had read about this type of behavior happening in New York City with Locksmiths – as well as many other cases of Google Maps Spam. Here is my response in full:
This is a classic case of what has been called “map spam” in the industry –something that happens a lot on Google’s local search results. Unfortunately, solving the problem isn’t widely supported by Google.
A company’s ranking in the search results for the “local” Google Maps search engine takes into account several factors, including distance from business from the city center, number of reviews for the business, number of local directories that claim this business and more. In LaRocco’s case, they are actually doing a great job at being visible with the search engines (must be a great place and I am definitely visiting next time I’m in LA), but are running into a problem: Pizza Hut appears to have claimed their listing unfairly and possibly unscrupulously.
How does this happen?
This happens likely for two reasons:
By not having claimed the listing in Google, it allowed Pizza Hut to claim that they owned the business. This can be reversed using the methods below.
How do we fix this?
While there’s no magic bullet for fixing the listing, I would start with the source and troubleshoot from there.
Taking these steps will not only reverse the trends seen above by Pizza Hut “hijacking” LaRocco’s listing, but will also significantly increase their presence online!
Let me know if you have any questions. If you got this far, I commend you for reading!
It worked! I dropped off the instructions last night and I had an email in my yahoo mailbox today.
Thanks again for making me look soooo good!”
If you know anyone who owns a business with retail locations, this blog post should help them by outlining a series of steps that all businesses can take advantage of immediately! I probably didn’t need to write such a long email to explain the problem (I could have just sent the link to http://www.google.com/local/add/ and said “good luck”), but I decided to write out the steps for both personal justification as well as training for others. While local search is fairly easy in principle, it’s a lot of information for a small business to consume on limited resources.
Understanding the intricacies of Google Maps and Local Search Engine Optimization can be a daunting task for businesses, and this is an area where it may pay to have an expert on retainer. I can’t tell you how fulfilling it was to help solve LaRocco’s problems, and I hope that this post helps others resolve theirs!