Is your small business losing prospective customers because of Google Maps — or, to be more specific, because your business isn't showing up on Google Maps?
For businesses that target a local customer base, such as restaurants, retailers or professional services companies, your digital marketing strategy isn't complete without a plan for making the most of Google Maps.
The truth about local digital marketing
Why does your business’s placement on Google Maps matter so much? Consumers searching for businesses naturally care about location. After all, the closer your business is, the more convenient it is for them. No wonder that mobile searches including the phrase “where to buy” have grown by 85 percent since 2015. Consumers also search for businesses using the phrase “near me” or using their town or city name. Even when shoppers don’t specify location, Google uses information about their location to list nearby businesses higher in search results.
Online searches are a key signal of a prospect’s intent to buy. In fact, more than three-fourths (76 percent) of online searches for local businesses result in foot traffic to those locations in 24 hours or less. If prospective customers search for what you sell, and your competitor’s business pops up in Google Maps instead of yours, who do you think will make the sale?
Google Maps isn't the only local search directory out there, of course — but it is by far the most important one. A whopping 96 percent of mobile search traffic comes from Google. By comparison, Yahoo drives just 2 percent of mobile search traffic, and Bing only 1 percent. Clearly, Google Maps is the place to put most of your efforts.
Make the most of local search digital marketing
Now that you know how important Google Maps is for your marketing efforts, here are some tips to help you maximize results from your local search listing.
- Include as much detail as you can. The more information your local search listing provides about your business, the easier it is for visitors to make a decision. Instead of just a bare-bones listing with your business address and phone number, visit Google My Business and update your listing to include your hours of operation, other means of contacting you, and a link to your business website. Depending on your industry, photos of your location, products, menu items, etc., can also encourage customers to give you a try.
- Make sure your business website is up to par. Many users will go from your Google Maps listing to your website — and since the majority of those users are on mobile devices, your website needs to be mobile optimized. Your website homepage should also be current and appealing with a clear call to action. Learn more about how to optimize your website for leads, the SEO trends business owners should know, and how to use PPC ads to boost your SEO.
- Keep your listing updated. Once your Google Maps listing is complete, your work is not yet done. Review your listing on a regular basis to make sure it's still current. You'd be surprised how many small businesses list outdated phone numbers or hours of operation on their listings. That's a surefire way to irritate prospects.
- Encourage and maintain positive online reviews. Google Maps listings typically show your business’s star ratings and link to online reviews of your business. Since reviews are a major factor in whether prospective customers choose you or the competition, be sure to keep on top of your reviews. Quickly respond to any negative reviews so you can resolve the customer's issue and turn that review into a positive one. Work to encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews that will boost your overall rating.
Working with digital marketing experts is a smart way to get more from your Google Maps placement. Look for a digital marketing solution that identifies your ideal customers, researches how they search online, and uses search engine optimization and placement on Google Maps to ensure your business ranks high in local search listings.