Sean walks you through some of the main factors that Websites.ca has used to get to the top of not one but TWO locations in the Google Maps search results.

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Hello everybody. Sean Corbett here @websites.ca marketing. No guests on this month’s episodes. You’re just stuck with me. But I do have a very interesting and important topic for you that’ll probably for a bunch of listeners, if you action this right away, you can honestly see some results almost immediately. We think right now this might be the best way for local businesses to get new customers online. And I’m not going to bury the lead. I’ll just go ahead and tell you. I’m essentially going to give you a very short crash course in what’s working on Google Maps right now. So before we just get into Google Maps, what is it? Why? Who cares? Blah, blah, blah. What does it do for you? Essentially, what could be a goal here? Well, websites do ca, I’m not just giving you theory. websites.ca has been in the top two results for Winnipeg website design, and just in the last month or so, we went from about the 20th spot to the second spot for Calgary website design because as most of you probably know, we serve all the major cities and towns all across Canada.
So it’s helpful for our business to be listed in multiple locations on the maps. For most people listening, they just have one or two locations within the same city, but this will apply the same. So this is a true statement if you pull the right levers. As of right now, as of the recording of this podcast, you can see pretty fast results. Now, before I go into how you can get those results, there’s an old saying that goes, the map is not the territory. So essentially what that means is the representation of a thing or sort of a crude or simplified picture of that thing is not equal to the thing itself, right? A map doesn’t tell you everything. The map will give you a lot of good goalposts and guidelines, but then you get to the area and you see something that’s, it’s a possible to put everything on a map basically.
So while that’s true in life online, Google Maps pretty much, well, if you don’t show up high on Google Maps, I’m sorry to tell you, but your business simply doesn’t exist for most people. Again, I know the territory is that your business, of course, does exist. You’re not on Google Maps. Unfortunately, you do not exist for most customers, and that’s just a fact. So why exactly would anyone want to focus on Google Maps? Well, businesses want to get onto the top two or three results on Google Maps. This is because Google the search and Google shows three business results on desktop and two business results when they’re searching on mobile and what they call the map pack, and that’s basically little plots on a map and then a little square that shows the businesses that are represented by those plots. And this map pack appears above organic results.
Now, if anyone’s familiar with Google, there’s ads and there’s paid results, and then there’s organic results. But the maps results or the maps pack, as I’ve been saying, has always been perceived by people as a legitimate organic result, and it gets a lot of clicks. Now, when the map comes up, you can click show more businesses, right? So if you look for pizza Parlor near me or a coffee shop near me, they’re not just going to show you the two or three. You can click to see more businesses, but obviously showing up on those main two or three results will get you way more traffic. In fact, most SEO experts are reporting that for organic results. The first person, the top person for that search, or the top entity website, whatever, for that search, gets about 40% of the total clicks. So there could be a thousand potential results, or let’s use my pizza parlor example.
There could be 20 pizza joints in the city. That one that’s on the top gets nearly half of the clicks, 48%. Then number two, spot gets about 19 to 20%. Number three, spot gets about 10%. And then like I was saying at the start of the podcast episode, everybody else may as well not exist as far as everyone’s concerned. So that’s why you want to pay attention to Google Maps. So, okay, we’ve got that out of the way. Now, how can you get higher on the Google Maps pack? How did websites.ca do it? I am going to go real fast here, so you may have to take notes or listen to this episode a couple times, but trust me, this is the stuff that we looked at and tested that worked, and you know what didn’t work. I’m not going to put it in this episode.
So number one, make sure you’ve completed your profile. Okay, Google my Business. You can claim it if you haven’t already. It’s free. You can start a business profile if it’s not showing up on Google, although that seems impossible in this day and age. But basically make sure your business name is correct. We’ve been over this on many episodes before. Don’t write Acme Inc in one place and then Acme Limited in another place, and then Acme Incorporated in another place. Put your proper business name, write it correctly. Make sure the address is your current address. Make sure it’s written in a way that’s compliant with how everyone else is writing addresses. So if people in your area write the number, sign for what suite you’re in, do that. If you put the suite and then a dash without a number sign, do that whatever is the standard naming and address principle where you live.
Upload a logo for your business. They usually allow you to upload location photos. You should do that. Make sure your hours are in there. Make sure all your contact details are in there. If you have a fax machine, still put that in there. Phone number, of course, email, of course, link to your website. Incidentally, websites.ca helps do this for all of our clients. So there’s a little plug that I had to insert into this episode. So moving on. The next thing that’s important, well, not even important that we’ve just seen has had some effect on things, is the age of your business. So that makes sense. Do I want to go to someone who’s been open for six months or do I want to go with someone who’s been open for 10 years? Obviously that doesn’t apply to everything. Maybe for bars or for restaurants, people want to see the new thing.
And so perhaps for bars and restaurants, maybe the age doesn’t matter. So again, take the rules that I’m saying and test them for yourself. But this is what we’ve found. For the longest time, we had just written 20, 20, 20 plus years, we told that to people, right? We’ve been operating for 20 plus years, 1999, and then all of a sudden, and again, if you listen to the recent episode with John Hart, our founder, he was mentioning, oh geez. We all looked at the calendar and we realized it’s been 25, just over 25 years we’ve been in business. So we went and we updated that on our profile, and the next day we jumped up a few positions. So I don’t know, for the Skeer people listening, you think, oh, well, I’ll just put, I’ve been in business for a hundred years. I don’t know exactly if it works like that.
Again, websites.ca in particular has a footprint online, so it is somewhat verifiable. I can’t tell you if Google verifies it or not. But anyway, the point is, make sure your information’s up to date. If you’ve been in business for six months, one year, three years, five years, whatever, put it in there. But then the true lesson here is keep the damn listing updated every year, every couple years. Make sure you have a staff member who’s competent and comfortable doing these kinds of things online or again, your trustee website, builder websites.ca. Have them go in and update the information. So that is important. Another thing that’s important when you are open, okay, so here’s this interesting thing. Again, we don’t want to lie. I mean, if you have limited hours, you have limited hours, that’s fine, but you can imagine. So think about this. If you are a, let’s go back to my pizza shop example.
Let’s say you’ve got a really traditional pizza shop and they’re only open on the weekdays, and they like to take the weekends off and spend them with their family. If you’re driving around town and you say, do a search pizza shop near me, well, you don’t necessarily want, even if it’s the best shop in the city, it doesn’t help you very much if it’s not open. So Google’s going to say, well, if they’re not open today, I probably won’t show them first. They don’t do this all the time, but it’s something they take into consideration. So that’s another thing to think about. The maps pack is slightly fluid, but what we found, because we are an online business, we do have office hours obviously, but technically there’s a chat box, there’s an email inbox. You can edit your own website. We don’t really have one location.
And so between all of our workers, we cover most of the hours of the day across Canada with very few exceptions. So we tested putting that we’re open 24 7 all the time. And again, we saw that we jumped ahead a few spaces, especially at businesses that were, that they had limited hours. So I’m not telling you to game the system, but I’m just telling you what is being taken into consideration by Google. If you have extended hours or something, it pays to put them there. Now, I’ve come to the most important lever to pull, and this is your Google reviews. So Google reviews are intimately tied to Google results to the Google business listing and to the maps pack and the maps results. Again, I don’t want to super belabor the point. We’ve done a lot of episodes where a lot of the experts that we’ve had on here almost always mention driving Google reviews, driving Facebook reviews is one of the main ways to increase your online presence.
So I’m just going to assume that you’re on board with me on that. Obviously, the more reviews you get, the better. And again, it goes without saying you don’t want bad reviews. Again, don’t freak out about bad reviews. You get one or two bad reviews. You can’t please everybody get on there and respond to them and try to be normal so other people can see that you’re being reasonable. But don’t be psychotic about how if you get a bad review now, it’s a blood feud with that person forever. And yes, I understand some businesses have complained to me that they’re competitors have left them fake bad reviews. There’s a process to go through to try to get rid of those. But again, if you have haters, I have to tell you, you pretty much made it. So take it as a vote of confidence or something.
Pat yourself on the back if you get a fake bad review, and don’t worry about it too much. The point is, drive those good reviews. So you’ll probably hear in the background, my cat is very excited about the topic of Google Maps, so he’s probably going to contribute some noise as well to this recording. So anyway, what we’re going to talk about here is you got to get more reviews, and obviously you want that higher average out of five, right? So one to five stars. The one thing that we did just recently is we thought, well, we always ask people if they’re happy with our service, they could leave us a review, and we have a system for that. And again, I’ve covered that in past episodes. You should absolutely be asking for referrals, asking for reviews at opportune times, at appropriate times after you make sure the customer is actually happy.
But what we did is we looked at all these levers and we said, well, if reviews are one of the levers, how could we generate more reviews very quickly? Because we keep seeing these results on Google happening very quickly as we improve our business profile and our reviews and so on. So our owner, John, just sent out a mass email to people saying, Hey, look, we’ve been around for a while. Obviously we’ve been your website provider for a while. I mean, if you’re listening to this podcast, chances are some, you might’ve got that email. And he just basically said, I’d really appreciate it if you left us a review if you haven’t already. It’s one of the ways that we help drive business. I mean, there’s nothing fancy about it. It’s not like it was Pat myself on the back here. It’s not like he had to get me to write the email right on the email marketing guy.
He just said, Hey, I sent out some emails today. Meat and potatoes, straightforward. That always works so great when you have just to get right to the point. And again, if you’re a good business, you provide a good product or service, I mean, pardon your staff, your customers are probably very happy to leave you a review. I mean, it just makes sense. So sometimes you want to add a little carrot to that. Ask sweeten the deal a little bit. In this case, John said, if you show me the proof that you left a review, I’ll give you credit for a one free month of service. So if you have a giveaway of some kind, even if it’s an informational giveaway, like a little pamphlet or report or something, it doesn’t have to be free money or maybe a coupon, something like that, two for one, whatever.
Just offer people something for their time and they’ll be very willing to do it. And what we saw when we sent out that email is we got, it wasn’t even that many reviews. I think we got about 20 to 25 reviews, and we looked the next day, and what, again, jumped up to those higher spots right now, getting close to the top three. And as I say, as of this recording, we’re in the top two. So that’s pretty cool. So how do you go about reviews? I gave you the overall framework for it. The biggest thing to boil it down to is just make it easy for people to leave your reviews. Asking is the first hurdle. The second one is showing people how to do it. Really simple. Here’s a link. Here’s a link to our Google Review page, or here’s a link to Google Business Profile.
You’re going to need a Google account to do it. Most people have a Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, you can sign up for free in one minute. Look, if you’re happy with our service and product, then please, we’d really appreciate, just leave us a five star review. It doesn’t have to be anything more complicated than that. Now, the review doesn’t necessarily need to have words. People can just go on and leave you a ranking or a rating. This hasn’t really been confirmed, but I’m just going to tell you, in the marketing world and the SEO world, and just from good old common sense, our really authentic, real positive review usually does contain keywords naturally. So if somebody said something like websites.ca, I wouldn’t consider using anyone else and Winnipeg for website design, well, it’s got Winnipeg and website design, right? So you don’t necessarily hold people by the hand and seat.
Make sure you use these words because again, that’s, I dunno, it makes people feel strange. It makes them feel like they’re doing homework. And again, if you make them feel like they’re doing homework, they’re probably not going to do it. But just making you aware that when somebody leaves a glowing and passionate and real review, they often themselves think of keywords, and it just makes sense that that would help. A little marketing tip that I just thought of as I was saying this and recording this, was that you could then go back afterwards and see what people wrote about you in their reviews. And again, the review has to be like an honest, passionate outpouring of their heart, not just you asked them to deliver a review. So they wrote, I like these guys five stars. That obviously is not very helpful to you, but you and your staff, especially your marketing team, can go and read how people describe your service, how they describe the benefits of your service.
And sometimes you can get headlines for your next ad or subject lines for your next email from those review descriptions. So any input from customers when it’s very honest and from the gut can actually be extremely helpful for marketing in many different ways. I’ve mentioned it a few times, you don’t want to fake it. Don’t do fake reviews. It’s very shortsighted actually, because Google’s not stupid. If you created a bunch of dummy accounts on your same computer with your same IP address, basically meaning your same area, your same internet connection, Google will probably notice this and they might even penalize you. Okay? So you don’t want to mess around with that because this business listing and this maps pack, this is prized real estate, prime real estate, I should say. So messing around with this kind of thing and being very shortsighted and trying to game the system, it might even work for a little while, but eventually everyone ends up getting paddled.
So just ask real people, other people for reviews, of course, you can ask friends in your area, maybe they haven’t been customers in 10 years or maybe necessarily never have been a customer, but they’ve been around your customers, they’ve seen what you’ve done. I mean, that’s fairly legitimate, right? If somebody says, I’ve known Bill for 20 years and he’s a standup guy and dah, dah, dah, dah, that’s a real honest review on someone’s character. So I would say that’s not gaming the system, that’s legitimate. So again, ask people for reviews in your area is kind of the important part there. A final thing that I’ll say that we didn’t necessarily, again, confirm, but it just stands to reason, stands to common sense. And it’s been whispered about online. So I’m not going to say for sure this is going to be one of those levers.
We’re going to see results right away. But I would consider that it probably helps if the reviews come from older Google accounts that have left reviews for other businesses. So again, like I said, we haven’t totally confirmed that, but there are reviewers kind of get ranked. I know when I lived in a certain area, I would leave reviews for mechanics and restaurants and so on, and at some point Google sent me an email saying, would you like to be a confirmed reviewer? Would you like to get a badge? People have found your reviews helpful. I didn’t even leave a ton. I probably left eight or 10 reviews when I got this email. So you can imagine that someone who’s sort of a confirmed, liked community reviewer, that person’s review may hold a little bit more weight than someone who just created an account 10 minutes ago, leaves you a four or five star review with no words.
So these are all just things to think about. But basically everything that I’ve said, don’t really get held by the finer details. Take those four or five points that I told you that affect the Google Maps results. Get to work on all of them right away, especially the reviews part. And you will see, I almost guarantee it. And unless you have insane competition in your business in a large city, you will see results almost instantaneously.