Two of Google’s products, Google Local Finder and Google Maps, can appear to be identical even though they are both intended to do separate tasks.
Both provide information on nearby businesses, so how do they differ, and under what circumstances does a search favor one tool over the other?
Why use two tools?
The justification for having two systems is actually rather simple. All depends on user intention:
Finding local companies is simple with Google Local Finder because it only displays results for a restricted geographic area. When a user clicks on a local pack result, it’s usually triggered and is linked to Google Business Profiles.
Google Maps doesn’t place as much emphasis on a particular locale and instead takes a more global approach to results. This is due to the fact that it was first designed as a mapping engine; a tool that may assist you in making travel plans and locating amenities like hotels, restaurants, and gas stations along the way.
Maps are used for more general searches, whereas Local Finder is used for searches where the goal is specifically to find a certain kind of local business.
Krystal Taing, a Google Business Profile Gold Product Expert, elaborates on this:
“Typically when I begin searches in Maps, I am seeing a broader area of results being served as well as categories of businesses. The results in the Local Finder are usually more specific and display more detail about the businesses. The Maps-based results are delivered in a manner that shows users’ desire for discovery and browsing. This is different from the Local Finder in that these results tend to be more absolute and about Google pushing pre-determined businesses and information to be evaluated by the user.” – Krystal Taing, Rio SEO.
Which is which then?
When someone types in “plumber in New York” or “plumber near me,” they are using Google Local Finder, which is a component of Google local search. It gathers information from a variety of places, such as business websites, Google and third-party reviews, and Google Business Profiles.
When a user conducts a regular Google search and selects one of the local pack results, it appears.
When Google Local Finder is used, it displays a map with numerous listings for nearby businesses. These outcomes include pre-selected businesses as well as pertinent data that the user can assess.
Image from Google Local Finder
The content of Google Business Profiles, formerly known as Google My Businesses, is another source of ranking information used by Google Maps. Google will give weight to relevance, closeness, and prominence to the searcher when determining rankings in Maps results.
The main distinction between Maps and Local Finder is their coverage area, which is similar overall to that of Maps. The default geographic area in Maps is substantially larger.
Screenshot of Google Maps
Given that Google Maps is the default mapping program on all Android smartphones and tablets, Maps is more frequently utilized during mobile searches (including voice searches). On a desktop device, it can also be reached by clicking the “Maps” tab in the search.
Users of search engines who use Maps are more likely to be “discovering”—browsing for a location, route, or landmark—than they are to have a predetermined list of businesses in mind.
Ranking in the Local Finder and Maps of Google
The essential initial step
You must claim your free Google Local Business listing before considering how to raise your ranks in Maps and Local Finder.
To learn how go to our comprehensive guide to creating your Google Business Profile.
Now that you’ve claimed your GBP listing, you can begin to consider how to improve your Google local ranks across the two tools.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that despite the similarities between Local Finder and Maps, Google interprets them differently because of the various user intentions that we have already discussed.
This implies that two users looking for the same kind of company in the same area could see two quite different sets of results.
According to research, there might be as much as a 39% difference in results for women’s clothing businesses between Local Finder and Google Maps and as little as 8% for nearby attractions.
Rank in Google Local Finder: Ranking Strategies
Due to Local Finder’s tight relationship to Google’s “normal” ranking variables, using conventional local SEO optimization strategies will assist you to increase your exposure on Local Finder.
1. Keep up with your Google Business profile.
The location of your local business in search results is significantly influenced by the information you provide to Google.
Ensure that your Google Business Profile is maximized with the appropriate category choice, a thorough “about” section, accurate NAPs, and relevant questions and answers.
2. Prioritize SEO
As previously indicated, the following typical local SEO signals will influence where you appear in Local Finder:
Additional category choices, the use of keywords in reviews, and review volume are all important Google Business Profile signals. Spending as much time as you can refining your listing will pay off because GBP signals are a significant local SEO ranking element.
Review signals: Encourage clients or visitors to provide reviews, and, where necessary, respond right away to any unfavorable comments. The more four and five-star ratings you can gather, the better since customer rating matters.
- Citation signals: Citations support Google’s ability to find local content. Aim for credible, authoritative, high-quality citations. All of your citation profiles should have accurate information because inconsistencies can undermine credibility.
- On-page signals: Conduct a local SEO assessment and look for possibilities for improvement. Local on-page SEO optimization can assist Local Finder ranks.
- Link signals: play a significant role in affecting your Local Finder placement favorably. These signals include anchor text, linking domain authority, link quantity, and link position.
3. Digital First Impression of You
Make a plan to do this after giving it some thought as to what you want your “digital first impression” to be.
Along with increasing your visibility, this will encourage visitors to go through to your listing where they may (ideally) convert to paying clients. You can take the following actions:
- Enable GBP Messaging
- Use keywords in GBP Products
- Use keywords in Google Posts
- Enable an Appointment URL
- Use Google Posts frequently
Rank on Google Maps: Ranking Tips
Google Maps, in contrast to Google Local Finder, is a separate entity that is not associated with search.
The traditional local SEO pillars of prominence, proximity, and relevance all play a significant role in ranking well on Google Maps, if not even more so.
Here are some strategies you can use to improve these important Google Maps signals.
Users of Maps want to know that your company can meet their needs.
Look to add appropriate attribute symbols that appear in Maps results but not in Local Finder (such as “women-led” or “Black-owned”).
Additionally, you must eliminate duplicate listings that can provide false or inconsistent information.
Users of Maps want to know if your establishment is near where they are searching.
On your website, include a local phone number with an area code and Google Maps. These two elements help to confirm your location and give users confidence that your company is where you say it is.
Users of Maps want to know that a business is active and reputable, therefore prominence simply indicates a high profile.
You need to maintain an active presence online and posting regularly is the first step. Keep your business hours updated, post photographs of new products, and consider launching a virtual tour.
Away from Google, securing placements in local media, building links from local sources, being active on social media, and authoring thought-leadership pieces or by-lined articles are also worth exploring.
Regular blogging is the first step in maintaining an active online presence. Post pictures of new products, update your company hours, and think about starting a virtual tour.
Aside from Google, it’s also worth looking into getting press placements in local publications, establishing links from regional websites, participating in social media, and writing thought-leadership pieces or by-lined articles.
Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, a casual search will reveal that Google handles Google Local Finder and Google Maps differently when it comes to rankings.
Being highly visible on Local Finder does not ensure that you will also be visible on Maps, and vice versa.
Local firms ought to prepare to rank for both in order to cover all user intent bases.