Google Maps: What You Need to Know
Google maps is one of the most popular resources online and is widely used within internet searches to find local businesses. Your business, if it isn’t doing so, should be considering how you can make the most of your Google maps listing.
Most people have used Google maps to guide them to their destination and even though my car has a built-in sat nav, I find Google maps far more accurate and useful.
We’re going to talk you through Google maps and provide examples of the tools available to evaluate your listings.
How Can Google Maps Help Your Business?
In short, Google maps enables your customers and potential customers to find your business. It operates based on your proximity and can be integral to your marketing strategy to retain existing customers as well as introducing your business to new ones.
Online consumers are becoming more technically savvy and Google maps is an excellent tool to help assist them in finding exactly what they are looking for. Personally, I’ve used Google maps as a search tool if i’m looking for a local service. For instance, what should I do with my seven year old son at the weekend? He loves swimming but we constantly go to the same swimming pool. So, I used Google maps to source another pool that met the requirements (relatively close – within a 45 minute drive -, had flumes and a children’s area). The swimming facilities also received a high rating from previous users which gave me confidence it would be an enjoyable experience. It was and we’ll be back in the future.
If we take an example of Google maps in our local area and search for restaurants. I may be looking for the closest restaurant to me or the highest rating. I could also be searching for ideas as I’m not sure what’s available close by.
You can see that there are three restaurants close by that have excellent ratings. One of the benefits of Google Maps is that the map listings sit at the top of the first page. The search engine does this as it tries to offer the best user experience. It expects people to be searching for a restaurant and Google maps can assist the consumer better than standard search results. It works for businesses particularly well when the business is listed on the map results as well as on page one of Google organically – it’s two bites at the cherry and increases the likelihood of the user clicking to visit your business.
When I click on the map I can see there are other restaurants in the area too, some which are closer in proximity. However, they aren’t shown on the search results unless I click on the map. All of these listings have less than 4 out of 5 stars.
Google Maps: How to optimise your listing
In our experience of Google Maps there are varying factors to help position your website on the search result listings for the maps. While user ratings can help and proximity is important, there are other factors which impact on a companies ability to outrank competitors.
A good example would be found in the image above. La Fiorentina in Glasgow is above The Fish People, even though the latter has a better rating. Both restaurants are the same distance away from each other. Also, Malaga Tapas has the best ratings than the other two restaurants but sits third in the list. This is where Google Maps marketing becomes vital.
Google My Business was previously known as Google Places and offers the ability for websites to claim their free business listing. The listing for your company may already exist as Google could have created one for you, however, it won’t be optimised. Even claiming your listing and failing to complete your profile won’t help your business.
Once you claim your free listing you should complete the following checklist:
- Address: Ensure the address you enter is accurate as this can impact on your results. This is also important for other details like your telephone number and website address.
- Category selection: You will be asked to select which categories your business represents.
- Opening Hours: You can list when your business is open.
- Shop front: If you have a shop front and deliver, then you may only cover a certain area or radius. You should specify if you cover a particular region.
- Business introduction: You should write a few paragraphs in your listing about your business.
- Add and optimise images: You can add images for your business including team photos, products and the business premises. You should ensure that images meet the size guidelines and you should add metadata into each image so they’re more likely to be found.
- Reviews: People searching Google maps often look at the reviews so asking existing customers to leave a review on your listing can not only help convince customers to try your company, but also help you rank higher on Google maps.
Evaluating Google Listings
One client in particular which we’ve only been supporting for a few months is experiencing excellent results from the Google map listings. They are a retail company and the evaluation tools on Google My Business show that more than three quarters of potential customers find the listing while searching for non-branded phrases (not their brand name).
Since August their map listing views have increased significantly and their photos are viewed almost 900% more than similar businesses like their competitors.
The company has reported a sharp increase in calls and visits to their store, a percentage of which can be attributed to an increased online presence.