Enhancing SEO and User Experience with Interactive Maps and Driving Directions

In this episode, we delve into the game-changing potential of interactive maps and driving directions for boosting SEO and improving user experience. Taylor Horn, our brand marketing manager, explains why traditional static embedded maps fall short and how an interactive map can offer a superior user experience while providing SEO benefits, including backlinks and a robust Google Business profile. Taylor also shares practical insights on embedding Google Maps on a WordPress website, adding open directions buttons, and maintaining a healthy bounce rate.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why static embedded maps are outdated and how interactive maps can elevate user experience and SEO
  • What are the SEO benefits, including backlinks and a strengthened Google Business profile, associated with interactive maps and driving directions
  • How to embed Google Maps directions on a WordPress website for a seamless user experience

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Jesse: And I think the overall thing we’re really trying to show here is not just embedding this map on your site or how to get there or kind of show your location, but just make it super easy for people to click a button and, boom, I’m getting directions to your location. Easy for them, great for Google and just a small little tweak that you can put into your website. Hey, everyone really appreciate you listening to this episode or watching it. If you’re on YouTube and wanted to read to you one of the reviews that we received for our show from one of you, this here is from Maplonia, which I love the name. It’s got map in it right. So for SEO, whatever you got me From Maplonia, it says generous and accurate information. Thanks for the podcast and SEO audit tool highly recommended. Thank you for the review. For everybody else, if you haven’t left us one, we’d love to hear from you Go to local SEO tacticscom, click the button for reviews. From there it’s easy to access Facebook, google, apple, wherever you want to leave us a review, we’d love to hear it. Let us know we’re doing a good job, let us know you enjoy the show and we’re providing good information for you. Really appreciate it and we’ll read it on the show Local SEO tacticscom. Click the button for review.

Welcome back to local SEO tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, jesse Dolan, here with Sue Ginsburg, as pretty usual. But, sue, we’ve got somebody else on here, taylor’s, joining us again to talk some pretty cool features, revisiting something we talked about before but got some new flavor. We want to throw at it. You want to set us up, sue, with what were we talking about here today?

Sue: Today we are lucky to have an interview with Taylor Horn, our very talented brand marketing manager with many skills and talents, Revisiting the importance of driving directions and how to make getting driving directions user-friendly for your visitors. In episode 131, we discussed the importance of driving directions and today we will be revisiting this important topic for more of a design and UX perspective. Quote of the day today when you come to a fork in the road, take it. That’s Yogi Bearers quote and not exactly the kind of getting directions that we’re going to be talking about here today, but it is a quote from Yogi Bearer.

Jesse: So with that, yeah, Sue, I got to interrupt you. I just got a funny story. I’ve got a friend where their kid one of their children I think it was for your senior quote you used that right for the senior quote. When you come to a fork in the road, you know, yeah, the other kid thought he was being cute and, either on purpose or trying to just mimic his brother, said, when you come to a fork in the road, pick it up. That’s good. Kind of funny, but not the exact same message so anyways always makes me think of that.

Sue: Good quote. That’s good, I like it, and it’s Yogi Bearer, so it has to be good, right. So okay, Taylor, with that, why don’t you shed some knowledge on all of us and help us know a little bit more about driving directions and SEO than Yogi Bearer evidently did or does?

Taylor: Yeah, thank you for having me back on. Like Sue had mentioned, we did cover this in a previous episode, but I’m here to bring a new, fresh, user-centric approach to integrating Google Maps Google Directions to your website. So not only will this enhance your overall user experience, it will also give you substantial SEO benefits like backlinks and a more robust Google Business profile. So what sets it apart from the traditional embedded maps? So the traditional embedded map is very static and it’s all about interactivity.

With a new directions map, it’s going to not only display your location, it’s also going to input a starting point or give the option for your user to input their starting point for personalized, step-by-step directions to your business.

So, in terms of SEO, when you are giving users access to directions to your establishment via Google Maps, it’s a very powerful tool for improving your website’s visibility. It’s sending a clear signal to Google or whatever search engine you’re using, that individuals are actively seeking directions to your location by inputting your address. So this can significantly enhance your online presence and improve your website’s search engine ranking. And then, from a UX standpoint, having your address readily available for easy access personalized step-by-step directions is really a game changer, especially if you operate a physical storefront in a highly dense or populated area. It’s going to set you apart from your competitors. So not only does it boost your SEO, it’s going to give you a more user-friendly, ultimately a more successful online presence. So the key difference here is the personal touch and the interactivity that traditional embedded maps lack, so it’s really a win-win situation for your user experience.

Jesse: I want to Taylor, just reset a little bit In case people don’t go back and listen to 131. Before you dig into this, I just want to give a quick little primer you touched on it but why this stuff is important From Google’s perspective, before you kind of show the flashy stuff here we’re going to get into. So everybody’s heard us if you listen to these episodes. We talk about reviews a lot, how important reviews are. One of the reasons for that is how strong of a signal it is to Google for your Google business profile on the maps. Like Taylor is saying, that just lets Google know real human beings engage in your business, like your business. Driving directions within Google are similar to that. Right, it’s something that exists in your Google business profile. When people are doing driving directions, they’re not just typing in your address here and Taylor is going to show a little bit visually here so you can understand what we’re talking about a little bit more but you’re not just typing in your street address. They’re getting directions to your business using your Google business profile, which, of course, has your address right. So within the Google ecosystem, when a human being is getting directions to your address through your GVP, they’re interacting with your GVP, much like your review right, where they’re putting a review on your GVP. In this case, they’re clicking the button, they’re getting directions through your GVP and that’s showing Google that actual human beings are engaged with you, that you’re important, you have some kind of authority in the area. Just imagine that people are using your driving directions more than your competitor’s driving directions right? Things like that.

There’s also the proximity. When somebody uses driving directions in Google, you know it’s giving that turn by turn navigation. When we say Google, we mean literally the Google version here. Right, as we go forward through the episode, what Taylor is going to show you and what we’re going to talk about, we’re using, like on your phone, google for the navigation, not Apple Maps, right, if you got an iPhone, we’re talking about the actual Google driving directions, turned by turn navigation.

And so if you can envision if you have whatever six different people using that to get to your business, imagine if they were coming from all from the same part of town. Google would know that, hey, people are more than willing to drive from point A you know to point B to your business. In the same way, think about if they came from six different parts of town, google would understand. People come from all over to visit your business. So the more we can use driving directions with Google, the more we’re going to show these real signals to Google, enhance our proximity, show our authority, all these different signals.

So, not to be too long-winded on a tailor, but I just think it’s important for everybody to know why we care about driving directions within Google for SEO. This isn’t just so people can find you. We want Google knowing people are trying to find you. At the end of the day, that’s the real thing we’re trying to get to. So, if you want a little bit more, we talk a little more in depth on episode 131, but that’s. That’s a quick primer for why this matters and yeah, I’ll throw it back to you, Taylor.

Taylor: Absolutely. So, jumping right into a website, I wanted to show the difference between the two maps. So I’m looking here at this Streit Law website. Feel free to join us on YouTube. At the top here we have a button with a map us option, and then right below it is an embedded map your typical Google business profile embedding, you know, right there on the website. So if you click on this map us button, it opens a new window or a new tab and then, if you look in the left hand corner, your location option to put in your address, your starting point, right to the location of the business. So it’s already set up for you. This is different than just clicking on an embedded map. It’s basically mapping you, like the map quest days, where your directions are right here from your location.

Jesse: Could you flip back to the website real quick? I just want to maybe explain something for everybody, unpacking a little bit, if you scroll down just a touch. So you’re talking about two things here. One is this embedded map, like on your website, that users could see. They could see, like your pin drop, where you are right in the area you know. From there they could click, maybe get directions and stuff, like you’re saying. But there’s an embedded map right there. What you’re talking about is not the exact same thing here. Right, for what you’re going to pull in. That’s slightly different than that embedded map. This is going to be what we need for the button that’s right above the map here on the directions that you’re showing, correct?

Taylor: Right, correct.

Jesse: So for anybody listening business owners, marketing managers this is something that’s definitely a little bit more technical. This isn’t something, if you’re not well versed in your website, that you could probably do yourself. If you have a webmaster, some gal or some guy that’s doing your website or update and WordPress for you, share this with them. They’ll watch this video, watch what Taylor’s doing, and they should be able to figure it out. If that can’t happen with your current resources or if there’s something that you think is a little above your head, this is what we’re here for too. This does get a little bit more technical, but, as you’re going to see as Taylor walks through this definitely worth doing for your website. It really enhances, it, makes it a lot easier for your users and is very slick. So I just don’t want anybody to be maybe put off by how technical this might be. What Taylor’s showing Definitely worth the effort and we can help you out if needed. So sorry to interrupt you, Taylor.

Hey, everyone, just a quick message about our free SEO audit tool on local SEOtacticscom and we’ll get right back to the show. If you haven’t taken advantage of it yet, go on out to local SEOtacticscom, slash free SEO audit, or look for the yellow button up in the top right corner. Click that and it’s going to take just a couple seconds. You enter in the page that you want to optimize what you’re looking for the audit to score against entering that page, entering the keyword you’re looking to get optimized for and entering your email address. Click the button and it’s going to take a few seconds and then it’s going to send you off a PDF report via email. It’s a great report. It’s going to kind of give you an overall score of some vital SEO areas for that page and for your website at large, even though it’s auditing this page.

That’s going to tell you some of the good things that are happening, some of the bad things that are happening, to give you, basically, a checklist of some things that you need to show up and what you can do to improve your SEO for that page, for that keyword that you’re auditing. Now you can use this as many times as you want. You can do multiple keywords, multiple pages, multiple keywords on the same page. You can even use this to check against your competitors, right, if you want to do a little reverse engineering see how they’re scoring for a certain keyword, what they may be doing. Good, that you’re not and some things to improve there. So lots of different ways to use it completely free. Again, go on at thelocalso-tacticscom slash free SEO audit, or look for the yellow button in the top right corner of the website.

Taylor: So as soon as somebody maps themselves using this Google Maps directions function, it’s going to send a signal to Google that somebody’s mapping to your location, they’re trying to get to your storefront from wherever they are, and it’s just an amazing SEO signal. So I’m going to show you really quick how to get that embedded directions link and it’s very simple. It’s not as obvious as you would think it’s. You know Google, so it’s definitely you have to jump through a few hoops to get it basically going to Google mapscom. So not the actual Google business profile. You don’t type in the business, you go to Google Maps from Google Maps. You’re going to want to click this little blue arrow in the right hand corner.

Once you click it, you can choose the destination. So, wherever you want to choose, I’m just going to type in the lawyer’s office that we’re trying to map to. Here it is, it’s inputted, it. It found it in the left hand corner, this hamburger menu. If you click on it and you scroll down to share or embed map, you can click that. You can embed the map with directions, or you can copy the link and put it in a button and I’m going to show you in this next part how to do that on a simple WordPress website. So I’ve got here a simple WordPress website.

No additional themes or builders have been added, but this can be done in any sort of website square space. You can use Wix, you can use, you know, whatever website builder you’re using will have a function to where you can add embedded code or a link to a button. So in this back end side I’ve got my contact form, I have a little bit of text, I have some social media links and I want to add that embedded map with the direction. So what I’m going to do is just add an element. You can scroll down on the Gutenberg basic WordPress editor and click and drag over the custom HTML option and this could be called code. This could be on your web builder. You know text. Whatever your builder, you can achieve this same function.

So, going over to Google Maps, where I have my business directions already inputted, the starting points blank, that’s where your audience or your viewer will put in their address, clicking the hamburger menu, scrolling down to the share or embed option and then, on the embedded map tab, go ahead and copy that HTML on the builder. I’m going to paste it here and then I’m going to update my site and then when I refresh, I can see my Google Maps to my business with an option to put in my address. And then I’m also going to show you how to add it in a button to where it will open in the new tab and your user can input their address right from the new tab using Google Maps direction. So, coming back to the back end of my website, I’m going to go to the add element option and then I’m going to click and drag button and add it right where I want it and you can change the text to get directions map us. So I’ve added a button here, I’ve changed the text and then I’m going to go back to Google Maps Again, scroll down, share or embed map and then copy your link.

Go back to your back end editor, click get directions and then change that link to be the directions link. And one other very important thing that I want you to do is click open in a new window. So this is going to basically open the directions in a new tab, new window, and it’s going to keep your website open so it doesn’t look like somebody’s leaving your site to go somewhere else. It’s just opening in a new tab. Your website’s still there. Your bounce rate will not be affected by this new map opening up. Go ahead and update your site, refresh it and you’ll have your get directions button right there where somebody can click on. It will open in a new tab and can easily add their address.

Jesse: And I think, just from my own personal experience, to like, if you’re using this, if you’re on your phone, right, taylor, like you said, you’re showing everything, of course, on your desktop. Here. Most people are probably doing this from their phone because you’re gonna be driving to the place. That’ll either pop your current location or prompt you. You know very easily for what your current address is and, in boom, you’re off to the races. Then also, we should let everybody know too if they’re. Again, if you’re listening to this on the podcast, check it out on YouTube.

Taylor just shared everything so you can see all the examples and you’ll see the button that she put on there Just as the example.

But that button could be anything that you could think of for your website.

If it’s something that spans across the top, if it’s something lower on the page, just a nice clean button.

If it’s an image that said click here for directions, like whatever it is, taylor just showed you how to go and copy the code from Google to then put it into your site to be a button, and I think the overall thing we’re really trying to show here is not just embedding this map on your site for how to get there or kind of show your location, but just make it super easy for people to click a button and boom, I’m getting directions to your location. Easy for them, great for Google and just a small little tweak that you can put into your website. But so there’s a lot of really relevant, important factors for SEO and for UX. So, yeah, you can use that really however you want, and I definitely encourage everybody to come back, check this out on YouTube so you can see how she grabbed that code and everything else. It might sound complicated if you’re just listening to it, but really not that tough Once you see how to do it.

Sue: Taylor, I have more of a non technical question for you. Can you tell us more about why this is so important? I mean, yes, it’s important because you want to give your your visitors the experience that they want and make things easy for them. But from an SEO standpoint, why is it so important that it’s easy for your visitors to get directions to your brick and mortar location?

Taylor: Absolutely. Utilizing your Google Business Profile to facilitate directions and provide your address is a really powerful way to communicate to Google that your business is actively sought after in the community, in your local area. So when individuals rely on your profile to map their route to your locations, it’s essentially signaling to Google that your business is genuine and it’s attracting visitors and it has this local presence. And this is an immensely valuable tool for establishing an edge over your competitors. So while your competitors might not have an integrated map or even address information on your website or their website, you know, having your directions from point A to point B right there, it puts you in a superior position. It’s streamlining the process for potential customers to find you super effortlessly and enhances your user experience, and it’s it’s sending you apart from your competition. So, and again, it’s another great way to demonstrate to Google that your business is popular, it’s in demand, it’s contributing to your business profile. All these great, great benefits.

Jesse: You showed earlier when you had a Google Business Profile up. There’s a button for directions right there and I want to reference that for why this is important, to kind of piggybacking off your answer and to further answer Sue’s question for SEO. If we think about it like this, if anybody out there listening or watching, if you have a Google Business Profile, if you’ve ever looked at the analytics or the insights within that, there’s a few things Google reports back to you how many times people click for a phone call, how many times people click on your website. There’s also a spot where they tell you how many times people click for driving directions.

So, like Taylor’s saying, and like we mentioned earlier on the front part of the episode here, this is an important signal to Google where we’re not just projecting this or saying that this is a thing people would use, so it must be important.

It’s literally an analytics area that Google reports back to you for your performance of your GPP right. So if they’re showing that it’s important through reporting, if all this logically makes sense for what we’re saying, then you can definitely see that the driving directions is a very important signal for Google and definitely something that you should be leveraging on your website, not just for the SEO benefits, but also, like Taylor’s saying, this makes it way easier for your clients to find you, and I think too, like if you’re maybe talking on the phone with somebody or maybe you send an email. Just think about how easy it is to say all right, just go to our website or go to the homepage or whatever big blue button. Click the yellow button for directions, like whatever it is. You don’t have to give your address, you don’t have to walk them through a bunch of things. Just click the button for for directions and it’ll prompt you boom, you’re on your way. So very easy.

Sue: And you’re giving the customer the choice of the way they want to find you, which is what UX is all about.

Taylor: Right, and it’s more important now than ever, now that everybody’s on their smartphones doing their searches and their mapping. So you can always conduct some AB testing to see the effectiveness of the feature that you’ve added. So you know, checking to see how many people are mapping through their phones or through your website, clicking the button. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated. Where I go to a website, I have to copy the address, I have to open my maps, I have to paste the address within maps just to get directions, and we’ve all been there. It’s just a huge hassle. So the more smoother and user friendly you can make it for your audience, the better.

Sue: This is great, Taylor, and I love what you’re saying about the difference between being on the website, clicking the link, versus copying and pasting it over to Google Maps or whatever you’re using, and it doesn’t take that much longer. But once you have been on a site that has click, get directions. It’s just one other thing that slows you down.

Jesse: All right, Taylor or Sue, did you have any other nuggets or insights to add for everybody, or should we wrap this one up?

Sue: And I think we always talk about how SEO really has two audiences. You have your visitors and you have Google, and here’s one instance where what you can do actually serves both audiences 100%, Taylor.

Jesse: Thanks for coming on to elaborate on this. Like we mentioned earlier, if you guys want guys and gals want to listen to episode 131, dive a little deeper maybe into some of these, but I don’t think you need to. We really went over the nuts and bolts of it and then added to it with some better UX and things that Taylor’s showing here. So thanks for jumping on to illustrate all this, Taylor, and elaborate on it. Sue, likewise for the commentary and the additions as well. I think this episode should be good for everybody watching and listening. If you do need help, like I mentioned earlier, reach out to us. Local SEO tacticscom or intrixcom is the name of our firm and agency and we’re happy to help. Otherwise, good luck and we’ll catch you in the next episode.

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