Many local businesses have a hard time when it comes to Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization. These companies often have a website, but don’t rank well in the search results because their site becomes lost within the search engine “Sandbox”, with little hope of finding its way out. Small businesses that are looking to drive more traffic to their website, have a tremendous opportunity to advance their listings and get first page results utilizing the Google Maps Platform. Google Maps (also known as Google Places), provide small business owners the ability to get their company noticed online, through Geo-targeted Search.
By optimizing your local business listing, Google Places will bring your company first page exposure by displaying local results to search users based on location. If your site is already receiving sufficient listings on the search engine results pages, the local business listing will create increased exposure for your company. Your Google Places Listing can provide driving directions, business information, operating hours and many other unique features for your potential customers.
Once your listing is submitted and properly optimized, Google Places will generate a map including your business listing. These listings often appear toward the top of the search results page, before any other organic listing.
Small businesses can build their company listing in Google Maps by searching for Google Places (formally Local Business Center) navigating to the site and creating a free account.
Once you’ve signed up for Google Places, fill out all of your business information, add a keyword rich description, hours of operation, upload images/videos and provide payment methods. Make sure to fill out all of the available categories in order to better maximize your listings potential. The more accurate your information is, the more success you will see from your listing. Make sure to fill out all the information you can.
Your Google Places listing should have the same business name, address and telephone number as the information that appears on your company website. Try to avoid using 800 numbers, as they negatively impact the listing. 800 numbers may be added as an additional phone number, but try to provide a regular number as your primary point of contact.
Google only allows its Places users to develop a single listing for their business. If your company has multiple locations, you’ll be able to add this information using the “list of area’s served” section of the Google Places profile. Again, accuracy in this section will provide better results for your listing as it’s served on the Google Maps Platform.
When filling out your profile, ensure that you improve your local business listing by adding as many rich media options as possible. These include images and video. You should also develop coupons and add weekly specials to the profile as well. The more information you provide Google, the better they can list you, thus driving more traffic and more qualified visitors to your site.
Filling out your Google Places business profile is just the start of your local campaign. If your industry is not very competitive, you may be lucky enough to rank high in the search results for local business listings, just from filling out your profile information alone. But more competitive industries will require additional effort and optimization.
Encourage your customers and clients to write testimonial style reviews for your business in the “review section” of your listing. Google will also populate your listing profile with reviews from review sites such as Yelp and Kudzu as well. These reviews provide useful information for your customers and enhance your listing in the search engine results pages. Local and trade directories will promote your listing within Google Maps, so filling out your business information and submitting to directory sites will be beneficial to your Google Places Campaign.
Utilizing these aforementioned tactics, integrated with a local SEO and Internet Marketing campaign is one of the best methods to increase traffic to your site and advance your small business’ success.