Claim Your Free Google Maps Listing!
There is no one single meathod to guarantee your complete local on-line visibility, but one important component is Google Maps.
When Google detects a local search query, their Maps (“Local Business Listings”) results are usually triggered. This can be a great source of leads, and potentially reaches both your recommended and new customers.
So, how does one attempt to get included? This is perhaps the question I get most often, and the answer is simple, but may also appear to be a non-answer, as there’s never any guarantee.
Visibility is even harder to maximize in competitive industries and/or cities. As this article illustrates, you can influence your chances by optimizing your site for local search (local terms, address, phone number, etc), but at the end of the day your consistent inclusion is still largely dependant on one large uncontrollable; the Google algorithm.
One critical step is something you can control - ”claim” your local business listing.
This 10 minute process starts by searching for your business listing on Google Maps. Use your Business name, City name and State abbreviation. Once found, click on “edit”, and follow the links to “claim your business”. You’ll be asked to create a Google account (if you don’t already have one), very simple.
Next, you’ll be prompted for some information like business catagories and keywords – complete this step with care as it’s an important factor in determaining your relevancy for various searches! Don’t forget to complete the other information like hours of operation, etc.
One tip: upload your logo and video (if applicable) - it also helps you stand out!
Finally, you’ll be asked to confirm all the information via a password. You have two options; complete instantly through an automated phone call from Google (choose only if you can answer your business phone), or by a postcard which will arrive in about two weeks. From there, you’re good-to-go!
The importance of this process was detailed in a recent survey of industry professionals, here. One other note; there have been many documented cases of business listings being ‘hijacked”; or claimed and redirected to competing businesses. Although Google is working on this and other “Map Spam” related issues, the sooner you complete this process the better! When combined with Internet Yellow Pages inclusion, Search Engine optimization and PPC advertising you’ll be on your way to achieving an effective local Internet marketing campaign!