Creating Custom Google Maps for Local SEO

Google Maps has pretty much always had the ability to create custom maps. Unfortunately many people seem to overlook these maps quite often. Not only do they provide a great user experience, a custom map can also help you gain more visibility in your local presence. It’s especially handy if your law firm has multiple locations throughout a certain area.

So What are Google Custom Maps?

Using the Google Maps Engine you can create custom maps that show different office locations, relevant businesses, or anything else you want to showcase with a visual map view. The best part is that Google provides this service free of charge. If you don’t have multiple office locations you can also use it for other reasons. Some attorneys I have worked with use it to show the local court houses, local notary offices, and more. If the visitors to your website can benefit from using a map of locations then you should be using this service. Plus it makes it easy for people to easy get driving directions, learn more information, and leave reviews for these locations. The end result will look like this:

Before we Start

Before we get started it’s important that you’re logged into Google. If you don’t have a Gmail or Google Plus account you will need to create one. If you’re already logged in then you’re good to get started.

Let’s Build Us A Map!

1. Start by logging into the Google Maps Engine here. This link should take you to the login screen below:

 

Google Maps Engine Login Screen

2. From this screen select the “Create a new Map Button”
3. Start by renaming the map with an appropriate title. If this is a list of your office locations you could name it “My Law Firm’s Office Locations”. It will also ask you to put a relevant description.
rename-the-map
4. Next we can name the layer. Google Maps works in layers. For example you could have a map with 3 different layers. In this example layer 1 Might be law firms, layer 2 might be court houses, and layer 3 might be notary services. Most clients start with one layer to make it easy for location maps. Once you decide the layers you can start by naming them specifically. You can also name layers by location such as “Orange County Office Locations” like RMD Law did. To do this simply select the layer name to update it as shown below.
Name the layer of the map
5. Now we can add data to this map. If you already have a .KML file you can actually upload it and it will populate your map. If you don’t know what that is, no problem either! Start by using the search bar at the top of the page and search for your business name and location.

From here you can select the location you want to add on the left. Once you have done this, simply click the add to map button.

 

How to add a new location to your map

 

6. From here you can edit the name of each location you add, edit the description, and modify it as necessary.

Congrats You Created a Custom Map! Now What?

Creating a custom map is cool and all, but it’s likely that nobody will find it here. So now that you have been through the effort of creating it, you should promote it using the website embed code. The embed code allows you to simply copy a small snippet of code that you can paste into WordPress or any other CMS you use. But before we get the embed code we need to change the privacy settings on your map to public.

1. Start by clicking the green Share button in the upper right corner
Open the sharing options for the map

2. A window will open up that will ask you to save and name the map if you haven’t already done so. Put in the name and description and hit save.

3. You will see that the map is auto set to private. Select the blue “Change…” link to the right of the word Private under the “Who Has Access Section”.

4. Select the “Public on the web” option and hit save. The Map is now public!

Now that the map is public it’s time to get that embed code for your map. To to this for the custom map you just created simply click the folder icon (as shown below) and then the “Embed on my site” option.

embed-google-map-code

Now You Have Your Map!

Well that was pretty simple wasn’t it? Google made it easy for users to create these maps which you can put on your website or other relevant websites. The more people that know about your business the more you will increase your exposure online.

An Example of an embedded map

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Casey Meraz

Casey is the founder and president of Ethical SEO Consulting and Juris Digital based in Denver, CO. Casey's specialties are in organic and local SEO. He is a regular contributor to the Moz Blog and the author of How To Perform The Ultimate Local SEO Audit. If you have an SEO question or need advice please feel free to reach out by email: cmeraz@jurisdigital.com. Follow Casey on Twitter @CaseyMeraz.