Location searches comprise a third of mobile searches, yet many retail stores are all but invisible in Google Maps. Only 52% of brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail appear organically on the first page of Maps search results.

Here are a few ways brands can make their stores more visible:

Post pictures: Adding photos to a store’s Google Maps page can boost organic visibility, in addition to crafting a more appealing image. Home & Gift brands are particularly strong on this front, with nine of 10 brands in L2’s Maps Visibility report consistently posting promotional photos.

Standardizing photos across store locations is also important to maintain a consistent branded look. But although 62% of Specialty Retail brands include photos on their stores’ Maps profiles, only 43% post standardized photos across the US, according to the study.

Leverage UGC: In addition to uploading their own photos, brands can take advantage of those taken by store visitors. This can be a particularly worthwhile opportunity for brands that use experiences to attract consumers to their brick-and-mortar locations – for example, Williams-Sonoma’s cooking classes and Athleta’s fitness classes. Brands that invest in visually appealing product displays and store architecture can also flaunt these with UGC.

While nearly all retailers have user-generated storefront photos on their Google Maps profiles, only 52% have user-generated photos of specific products inside their stores, according to the study. IKEA is the only brand with user-generated product photos in all five observed cities.

UGC

Link inventory to Maps profile: In May, Google Maps launched a “Search Items at this Store” feature. Stores that opt in can connect their inventory with their Maps page using a shoppable interface, letting customers see if products are in stock at local stores or purchase them directly on the brand site.

Eighteen Index brands have adopted this omnichannel feature. The Home & Gift category has seen the highest adoption, with 60% of Home & Gift brands including it on their Google Maps store profiles. Index leader Sephora and its direct competitor Ulta have also opted to use the feature, as have William-Sonoma, Gap, and Urban Outfitters, rolling it out to most of their portfolio brands.

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