As a small local business owner, you need to leverage the power of Google maps. In fact, 86% of consumers use Google Maps to find local businesses. So, what exactly is Google Maps? It is a free advertising tool that shows local business locations on a map along with relevant details. The search results make it easier for users to find what they need.
When a user enters keywords such as “ice cream parlors near me”, Google searches local businesses based on the user’s location. It then shows the results on a clickable map at the top of the page, along with links to the company website or social page. However, the only way to rank on Google maps is to complete your Google My Business (GMB) profile. Here we offer simple tips to set up your profile to harness the full power of this free marketing tool.
What Google Maps Offer
The best thing about Google Maps is it gets you top ranking without complicated SEO tactics. For a small local business, this saves tons of time and money. Because locals will search businesses “near me” it allows you to receive instant traffic either to your site, or your brick and mortar location. That makes it small business marketing gold. Here are some more stats to help you better understand the importance of Google Maps:
- 28% of local searches result in a sale
- 78% of local searches made on mobiles lead to a brick and mortar purchase
- “Near me” mobile searches increased by 136% in 2021
- 97% of search engine users searched for a local business
- In the past few years “near me” or “buy now” searches rose by 500%
That’s why you need to make sure your Google My Business Account is complete and up to date.
Set Up Your GMB Account
Your Google My Business account is created automatically by Google. However, they don’t necessarily have the correct information about your business, which can backfire for you. As a result, you have to “claim” your business and complete your profile. By setting up your GMB account, you ensure the information is up to date, so customers find you.
You can complete each section ensuring your contact information is consistent with your website so it is clear your account ties to your business. To claim your business, search it on Google, and click your listing. Scroll down below the contact information and click the Own this business link. You can then claim your business and provide the following Information:
- Your business name, address, phone number, website URL
- Your location
- Hours of operation
- Primary and secondary categories best resembling your business
- Business attributes
- A complete business description so people know what you offer
- Up to date images of your products, menu, services and/or location
Once all your information is complete, you can focus on the more detailed features.
Verify Your Listing
When you claim your profile, Google will ask to verify your business via phone, text, email, or video. When you pick your verification method, they’ll send a notification with a code in about a week. Click the “Get Verified Button” and enter the code, and the verification process is complete by Google within a few weeks.
Choose Your Keywords Carefully
Try to anticipate the most frequently used keywords for a company like yours. Most people are going to do an easy search such as “dentists in Seattle” or “pizza near me.” Test out a few keywords and see who comes up. If it is your competition, you’re on the right track.
Use Geo Tags
Geotagging connects the media used on your GMB profile with your location. You can use them on the photos or videos posted to your GMB profile to help give you extra points for your location. It’s pretty technical, as you have to attach latitude and longitude coordinates to the image file which is saved in the metadata of the JPG file. If you use your mobile phone to take the images, you can activate the “save location in photo” option or use GPS sensors on your phone. However, keep in mind the images should be of high quality to improve rankings.
Leverage Other GMB Features
Google Maps allows you to leverage other features to profile your business including:
Complete Your Products and Services Section
The more information you provide about your products and/or services, the more customers know you can help. Images, product details, links to the products on your website, etc. all contribute to an improved user experience and positive impression. Make sure the information is always up to date to avoid disappointment. If a product is discontinued, remove it. If it is out of stock, flag this.
Add Weekly Google Posts
This works like social media allowing you to post offers, news, updates, etc. Publish weekly to keep information fresh. Although it might seem like one more channel requiring your attention, it is important to post weekly on your GMB profile. Google prefers businesses that are “active”, and this is the easiest way to show them you are alive and well. Posts don’t have to be fancy and you can even repurpose whatever you use on your social pages to save time and effort.
Solicit Customer Reviews
This is very important because Google uses your reviews and star ratings to rank your business. Be sure to respond with thanks for positive reviews and offer a resolution to negative reviews and complaints as they are posted. Google loves five-star reviews and will push you higher and higher up the page, the more positive reviews you have. Therefore, you should ask customers for reviews to increase your ranking. This is often awkward, but a must to rank higher.
Also, new reviews help you hold onto that top spot. Setting up an automated email that goes out to customers with a convenient link to review pages streamlines the process. A customer satisfaction survey is another good idea, as is offering an option to use Google or Yelp. Guide customers on what to say with comments such as “we’d love you to mention what service or product you used and how you enjoyed working with us.” You might boost your keywords by taking this approach.
Use the Google App To Chat with Customers
Set up messaging so people can contact you directly if they have questions or want to place an order, etc. You can message customers directly from the Google Maps app with message notifications that appear in the business messages under your updates tab. This way you can quickly respond to customer questions whether they are general or related to a post.
Contribute to Questions & Answers
Google Maps allows people to ask questions, but it also allows anyone to answer. As a result, be sure you have notices turned on so you can answer the questions, or politely correct any misinformation someone might offer. Also, because the section doesn’t require names, you can ask your own questions and provide answers as an FAQ to help customers. This is also a good way to add more keywords, establish authority and add more information about your business in a very authentic, organic way.
Add More Photos
Keep adding new photos weekly, or when something worth noting happens like a new product or event. This is a good place to feature before and after shots for contractors, interior designers, beauty services etc. You can also showcase a new product, show off community participation, introduce a new employee with expertise in their field, and more.
Monitor Google Insights
Google Insights help you learn more about your audience and customers with important data you can use not just for your profile, but your entire marketing strategy. For example, you can track how many views you get for your photos and posts to learn more about what content resonates more with your audience. Search Queries track the keywords used to help improve your keyword strategy and help boost website traffic.
Engagement numbers help you understand what posts get the most engagement to guide you on what works and what doesn’t for social media. The more information you have, the better you become at posting relevant information across your entire digital marketing strategy. You can learn more about your audience to improve your targeting by reviewing the summary of people following you to improve target segmentation for marketing campaigns.
Statistics on the number of clicks generated from your profile or SERPs allow you to understand what types of content entice people to seek further information. As a result, you can take steps to improve your social media efforts, send more traffic to your website and increase engagement with your brand.
Although the name Google Maps doesn’t seem it has much to do with marketing, it is the tool every local business needs. Customers actually depend on it to find local products and services, not just as a map for directions. It is a feature-rich digital marketing tool that provides a solid foundation for your online marketing efforts at zero cost.