Once a useful tool for smartphone users, Google Maps has grown into one of the best marketing platforms for local businesses seeking new customers. From citations and reviews to claiming your listing, marketing your business on Google Maps requires a series of steps, tactics, and strategies in order to be successful.
In this guide, we will look at the value of Google Maps for different businesses, how the mapping and navigation platform can be used to secure customers, and today’s most effective strategies for claiming your spot at the top of Google’s local listings.
Google Maps: A Brief History
Google launched Maps for Mobile in 2005. In the nine years since its introduction, Maps has grown from a useful mobile application into one of the most popular of Google’s services. It’s now available on a wide variety of platforms, from Google’s own Android operating system to the latest Nintendo Wii-U gaming console.
In 2007, Google launched Street View – a new maps feature that provides panoramic images of city streets. Aside from some concerns regarding privacy (that Google has since addresses) Street View has grown to become one of Google’s most popular and acclaimed services.
Who Uses Google Maps?
Google Maps is used by hundreds of millions of people. In 2011, Google announced that over 150 million users had accessed maps throughout the world. This massive audience makes Google Maps a potentially lucrative marketing platform for small businesses that depend on local customers.
Does your business depend on local customers? Do you primarily market to people within 20-30 minutes of your location? If so, increasing your rank on Google Maps is likely to increase your sales.
How Can You Increase Your Google Maps Rank?
Every time you search for a local keyword, Google will list Maps results in what’s known as the seven-box. This is a listing of local businesses related to the keyword you’ve searched for.
For example, searching for Los Angeles dentist brings up a list of dentists located in and around Los Angeles. Narrowing down your search keyword – for example, from Los Angeles dentist to Pasadena dentist further narrows down the Maps results.
One of the best ways to increase your ranking on Google Maps is to fill in all of your business’s local information. Make sure your address, your phone number, and your company name are prominently displayed on your website. The more local your site looks, the better your local rankings are likely to be.
It’s also worth adding your business to Google Places. This is Google’s index of local businesses – an index that it uses to find content to populate the Google Maps search seven-box. Add your business (as well as your relevant information) to Places and you’ll benefit from better rankings in Google’s Maps search function.
Google Maps allows users to review local businesses. These reviews have an impact on your company’s ranking. By encouraging customers to review your business, you can improve your ranking in Google’s seven-box and attract more traffic from local search queries.
By studying the Maps content for your local area, you can even find the top Places reviewers in your region. By reaching out to these reviewers, you could build a far more visible Google Maps listing that attracts new customers to your business.
What Businesses Can Benefit From Google Maps?
Any type of business that depends on local customers can benefit from a prominent listing in Google Maps. From big-box retailers to small restaurants, any local store is going to see serious benefits from being listed higher in Google’s local index.
After all, with over 150 million active users, Google Maps has a huge audience. Like other aspects of Google search, the Maps audience is also specifically looking for the products and services your business offers whenever they search for keywords that are related to your business.
From automotive service centers to costume stores, big-box consumer electronics retailers to small pizzerias, any type of local business can benefit from improving its Google Maps listing. The benefits include new first-time customers, a strengthened brand, and a far greater level of visibility in your local community.
Take a proactive approach to Google Maps marketing and your business could see real benefits from its actions. From new walk-in customers to increased attention from local publications, the benefits of a greater Google Maps presence are many.