Google+, Google Maps, Google Search – these are all important pieces of the local marketing and the local SEO puzzle. And now, thanks to the wonderful folks at Google, who have focused on giving small businesses a boost, you no longer have to manage multiple profiles to reach local customers. Google My Business now combines these several essential apps in a single turn-key, all-in-one solution – Google My Business – to have business listings in several different venues at once.

And an important piece of the Google My Business solution is Google Maps, which offers multiple services as part of the larger application, including:

  • A route planner to help travelers get from one location to another
  • The API interface that makes it possible to embed Google Maps in websites
  • Mobile capabilities that utilize GPS systems
  • Google Street View, which allows users to see and navigate through both horizontal and vertical street-level images of cities
  • Images of planets for astronomy enthusiasts

The Benefits of Google Maps for Businesses

GMB

The benefits of using Google Maps for businesses are numerous, and all of them amount to helping you get found and building that critical relationship with consumers. Consider these benefits: 

Demonstrates Quality and Fosters Approachability

A full 82% of consumers conduct online research before visiting a business, and 43% of all searches are done through Google Maps (Forbes). All those potential customers and clients doing all that searching online can take what amounts to a virtual tour of your business. And this allows them to get a feel for the quality of your business, as well making it seem less remote and more approachable and personable.

Helps Build Consumer Trust

“Establishing trust in an online context is both critical and difficult” for businesses (Inc.). But when you know how to get your business on Google Maps, you’ve taken a giant step toward establishing that trust. Google Maps Street View allows you to put a human face on an impersonal business name. And that’s the beginning of building customer trust.

Allows Better Audience Targeting

Aiming your marketing efforts at a target market is critical, and Google Maps assists you in that. For the 20 petabytes of data Google Maps allows you, there’s plenty of room to add in all the information, including photos and videos, needed to get your business in front of the people who will be interested in it. Google My Business can be a valuable tool in your local marketing and SEO toolbox.

Why and How to Add a Business to Google Maps

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“Why,” you ask, “do I need to put my business on Google Maps?” Because it gets them to your store. Getting your business high in Google’s SERPs gets traffic to your website, but getting your business on Google Maps can get actual foot traffic to your store. It can give you greater, nearly passive brand reach when consumers are looking for specific kinds of local businesses.

So your next question is probably: “How do I get my business on Google Maps?” It’s pretty simple, actually, just four easy steps.

To get your new business on Google Maps, you simply have to add it on Google My Business. But if yours is an established business, it is likely already in place on Google My Business, in which case you just have to claim it. So here’s how it works:

  1. Go to Google My Business and enter your business name and address in the search box.
  2. Click on your business name if it shows up among the suggested matches. If it doesn’t appear, then select “Add your business” and provide the requested information.
  3. Verify your business so that Google can ensure that your business actually exists and is located where you said. (You may have to wait a week or two to receive a postcard with a verification PIN.)
  4. Confirm your business, using your Google-issued PIN, and set up a Google+ page.

How to List Your Business on Google Maps

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The way you list your business on Google Maps (and throughout Google My Business) can have a pretty big impact on your find-ability and how potential customers perceive your business when they find it.

First, think about NAP – name, address, phone number – because it can be an important element in local SEO. Consistency is key, so whatever you use here should become your default address all across the web. Further, keep in mind that accurate, highly specific information about your business will allow Google to more correctly classify and better display your business listing.

You will be able to choose a category near the bottom of the Google Maps form. Google uses your category selection to classify your business, and, as a result, it will determine the kind of search query your listing will be served up for. So consider carefully when selecting from among the preset categories/keywords for each industry.

Setting Up a Google My Business Account

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Properly setting up a Google My Business account is an important first step for effective local SEO. It impacts how well your business will be found online because it connects with a host of other Google apps, tools, and venues – Google searches, Google Maps, Google+, Google Analytics, and various reviews.

The process for setting up a Google My Business account is basically the same as you use to add your business to Google Maps:

  1. Go to https://www.google.com/business/, and then create an account or sign in.
  2. Search for your business or enter it for the first time.
  3. After selecting or creating your correct business type and location, click your business name.
  4. A Google+ page will be created with the information you have put in. You then need to check “I am authorized to manage his business” and then click Continue.
  5. Finally, you’ll to go through the verification process.

Using and Managing a Google My Business Account

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In addition to setting up your Google My Business account and knowing how to how to get your business on Google Maps, you will need some way to manage everything, especially if your business has multiple locations. There are several aspects to using and managing a Google My Business account, the most of important of which include:

  • Setting up your account properly – We’ve already mentioned this, but it bears repeating. For ease of use and management, your Google My Business account must be set up the right way to facilitate management from one central location.
  • Collecting each location’s account information into one place – Name and address for each business location’s website should exactly match what you have in the Google My Business listing for consistency. Google searches will then be able to see them as the same business – and not as competing businesses. A spreadsheet can be an invaluable aid here.
  • Adding new business locations in bulk – To make things easier and to help ensure consistency, you can add new businesses to your account in bulk, if you have 10 or more locations. You can use the bulk uploader, and Google will inform you if there are any discrepancies or errors.
  • Updating business information – Not only is there the first-time entry, but you will likely need to update your business information from time to time.
  • Getting help when needed – This is probably the most important because your job is running your business, not struggling with Google. So if you have any difficulty with Google My Business, don’t hesitate to call on the expertise of a company recognized for its proficiency in results-getting digital marketing and local SEO.

Tools for Optimizing Your GMB Account

optimize gmb

A good agency can help you enhance local listings and manage your account so that your GMB listing is served up to customers looking for a business just like yours. But there are also some good tools you can use to help listings perform better and achieve close to the same results.

Maybe the best and most widely known of these tools is Yext. This tool provides a way to automatically sync your business information across more than 50 directories, including Yelp, Google Maps, and Apple Siri. Yext is what is known as a digital knowledge management (DKM) platform and is used by companies like Taco Bell and Rite Aid to boost brand awareness and engagement, to drive foot traffic, and to increase sales.

Get Visual By Adding Pictures and Videos to Your GMB Listing

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For an even greater Google My Business strategy, you can add photos and videos to your GMB listing. They help people find your business and can come from either business owners or customers/clients. Photos, but especially videos, engage potential customers and can be a useful tool for increasing traffic.

Photos can serve different functions on your GMB listing, for example:

  • Profile photos to help consumers recognize your business
  • Cover photos to convey your business’s personality
  • Additional and various photos to spotlight particular features of your business and your offerings

The visual impact of videos, though, is much greater than that of photos. Consider that 85% of Facebook videos are viewed without the sound on (BrightLocal). GMB allows you to upload videos up to 30 seconds long, and, again, these can be added by both businesses and customers. Find out how to add photos and videos to your GMB listing here.

How to Get More Google Maps Reviews From Customers

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The power of positive reviews simply can’t be overstated. And the great thing about reviews is that they take the advantage away from bigger companies and allow smaller businesses and brands to compete, especially on a local level. Here are the three main, tried-and-true techniques for getting more Google Maps reviews from customers:

Just ask – Yep, just ask for reviews. Satisfied customers will be happy to oblige, and you’ll be surprised at the positive results. Asking doesn’t break any rules, and it isn’t in bad form.

Incentivize – Give customers a good reason to leave reviews by offering some kind of incentive, usually in the form of a reward like something free or a discount coupon for the next purchase. Just be sure not to come across as too unctuous or pushy.

Follow up  – Sometimes, it may not be entirely appropriate to ask for a review at the time of purchase, say, if a customer has purchased a vacation package. In such cases, you should send follow-up emails at the right time to ask for reviews.

Contact Google My Business Support to Resolve Issues

issues

Occasionally, you may run into problems – say, error in listing information or bogus negative reviews – and in such cases you’ll need to contact Google My Business support to resolve these issues.

You have several ways available to contact the GMB folks, depending your preferred method of communication and the urgency of your issue:

  • Phone (though reports indicate that phone support is less reliable due to outsourcing)
  • Email (though, again, you may face an indeterminate wait)
  • Facebook
  • Twitter (often recommended for the relatively quick response, usually 24-48 hours Monday-Friday)
  • GMB Forum for help from expert contributors

Adding Your Business to Google Maps . . . and the Rest of the Marketing Puzzle

puzzle

As we mentioned early on, though, it’s really not enough to know how to get your business on Google Maps or how to get your business to show up on Google Maps. You must know how to get your business on Google Maps in a way that will drive local traffic to your business.

But you have a business to run. That’s where Fingerprint Marketing comes in. We understand the digital strategies that will grow your clientele. Our talented team has the qualities you need in a marketing partner. With Fingerprint Marketing, you can “reap the benefits of a sizzling marketing plan.”

Find out how by contacting us today!