How Google Maps Can Help You Grow Your Small Business
When consumers Google your business, what comes up? Will they see a nice display with your location, address, hours of operation, phone number, a link to your website, and customer reviews?
“New businesses need all the help they can get to attract customers, generate revenue and establish themselves to compete with existing companies. And for brick-and-mortar storefronts, being found on Google Maps is key to driving traffic to the business.”
Source: Search Engine Land
If your business isn’t showing up in Google Maps, you’re missing out on free digital marketing and search engine optimization opportunities that can help your company grow.
Here are some tips on how you can take full advantage of your Google Maps listing to increase visibility and attract more customers:
Claim Your Listing With Google My Business
Previously called Google Places, Google My Business allows you to claim the listing that may show up for your business in Google search results. Essentially, any type of business (excluding certain inappropriate establishments) is able to claim a Google My Business listing, which displays useful information such as the establishment’s address, hours of operation, and customer ratings.
But while many businesses may claim their listings, they often stop there, neglecting to provide complete information. Consequently, they achieve less visibility, along with less than satisfactory rankings on Google Maps.
To avoid this, WordStream urges you to use the exact same address information used by the USPS (or the appropriate postal service where your business operates). Don’t forget the room number, suite, or subdivision designation, as well as a full nine-digit zip code, and any additional information that will make your business easier to find. Eliminate extra spaces and other formatting errors, too, because even the slightest mistakes will affect your Google Maps ranking.
Google is more likely to take your business seriously when you have a complete profile. Plus, the more data you provide to Google, the better you’ll rank in Maps search results.
If your business has a physical storefront or location that serves a wider area (such as pizza delivery services or package carriers), be sure to specify areas of service in your Google My Business profile. List the towns or cities that you serve, for example, or you may choose to specify a geographical radius of service.You’ll also want to indicate whether or not you serve customers at your primary location, to avoid walk-ins turning up at your business.
After your profile is filled out completely, you should verify your Google My Business listing. This process may require several weeks since Google generally mails a postcard (with a unique PIN) to the physical address provided in your Google My Business profile (although Google sometimes allows businesses to verify ownership by phone).
Optimize Your Categories & Business Introduction
Just as you’ll miss out on better search results with incomplete location information in your Google My Business listing, selecting only one main category to describe your company will minimize your optimization opportunities.True, you’re only required to choose a primary category when creating your Google My Business listing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include additional categories that are equally relevant to your company.
This is particularly important if, say, your business offers several related services. In the example at right, the company’s primary category is website designer, but they’ve also selected supporting categories such as internet marketing service, graphic designer, and ecommerce service.
Because Google provides users with business suggestions based on the information you enter in your listing, if you enter the wrong category, or not enough relevant categories, it’s less likely that your business will appear among Google’s selected recommendations. So, again, the more accurate and thorough information you give to Google, the better optimized your Google My Business listing will be.
That’s why you’ll also want to write a clear, concise introduction to summarize your company, as well as the products and services you offer, and what makes you stand out from the competition. When you neglect this step, you weaken your optimization potential. Vertical Response recommends that you use descriptive words that “paint a picture for your customers.” Don’t waste space on blah sentences like “We’re a pastry shop,” because Google My Business is “prime marketing real estate.”
While you’re allowed to link to relevant pages on your website in your Introduction, stay away from link or keyword stuffing to avoid being denied by Google. Using applicable keywords in your introduction is fine, so long as your content is well-written, useful, and appealing to searchers.
Optimize Your Google My Listing by Including Photos
Google My Business turns Google Maps into a visual platform where companies can showcase their establishment with photos. As you can see from the example below, businesses with listings that include photos are far more appealing than listings without them. Adding photos is a way to really make your business stand out among the rest, in addition to being yet another opportunity for optimization.
WordStream indicates that including images in your Google My Business listing is about a lot more “than looking pretty.” The photos themselves can be optimized to increase your visibility. With the help of third-party apps, you can also add metadata to your images, which will make them easier for consumers to find.
You’ll notice, too, that there are reviews located below the photos and business information. While it’s still not clear how user reviews affect the Google Maps search algorithm, businesses with no reviews will find it challenging to compete against company’s with numerous reviews. That being said, it’s imperative that you request and include reviews in your Google My Business listing.
Keep in mind that reviews won’t be displayed with your Google Maps listing until you have obtained at least five of them. Vertical Response offers the following tips concerning reviews, which you can monitor and respond to through your dashboard:
- Encourage your customers to leave reviews by reminding them when they checkout, or by sending them an email with a link to your Google My Business page and a request to leave feedback.
- Don’t panic if you get a bad review. It happens. If the review violates the review policies, simply flag it and Google will evaluate it and take action. If the review is negative but doesn’t go against the policies, you may choose to respond in a professional manner. If you’re not sure how, here’s a guide to responding to negative feedback.
- And don’t forget to respond to positive reviews too! Thank your customers for taking time to share their comments.
Walnut SEO recommends that every business owner (especially small brick & mortar store owners), focus on Google Maps marketing.
Why’s that? Check out what Vertical Response has to say about it:
“Four out of five consumers conduct local searches on search engines to try and find the right business to meet their needs. Google My Business can connect your business with customers on the other end of those searches. With just a small investment of time, you can create a free way to attract customers.”
While Google offers a wide range of free tools, Google Maps seems to be one of the least used services by small businesses. That’s unfortunate, because when set up correctly, your listing on Google Maps will make your company a lot easier to find in the local search results. Start taking advantage of Google Maps today to help your business significantly increase visibility, drive foot traffic, and boost growth.