Google has more than 70% of all search traffic as of May 2010, and when a person searches for a local service on Google, the Google Maps search results appear on the first page, above the natural search listings. Whether your potential visitors have initiated their searches from a mobile phone, an office computer, or a laptop, most of them will see Google Maps listings at the top of the first page of their search results. Therefore it is very important for all businesses, especially those that offer a local service, to optimize their Google Maps listings.
The following three easy steps will take an hour or two to complete, but will bring significant return on investment by raising your Google Map listing ranking.
Step 1 – Claim Your Listing: The first step in optimization is to claim your local business listing by going to https://www.google.com/local/add, and claiming or adding your listing. Next you’ll need to verify the listing either by having Google automatically call you at the phone number on the listing, or send you a postcard in the mail, so that you can enter the PIN code they provide for you either way. This is how Google verifies your location. When customizing your listing, try to provide as much information as possible, including pictures (perhaps of your location so customers can easily find you), videos, and coupons. It’s a good idea to add any appropriate certifications next to your name as well. Make sure you put your listing in five related categories, then click on the “add a category link” and add up to five more categories for your listing. If possible, you can also add your main product or service listing in the title and description fields of your map listing.
Step 2 – Sign Up for a Virtual Office in the Closest Major City: It is much easier to get listed for the city where your actual company has a mailing address, so if you want to be listed on the map listing for a big city closest to your actual company location, you may consider setting up a virtual office and phone number within the heart of that city to boost your relevance in the local map listings for that city. Make sure to add this city’s address (as well as all your other addresses) to the other search directories on this list:
• Yahoo Local, http://listings.local.yahoo.com/
• Bing Local, https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx
• Superpages.com, http://www.superpages.com/about/new_chg_listing.html
• Yellowpages.com, http://listings.yellowpages.com/
• Best of the Web Local, http://local.botw.org/helpcenter/jumpstartproduct.aspx
• DexKnows, http://www.dexknows.com/info/faqSiteUser.asp (instructions are on this page)
• GetFave.com, http://www.markosweb.com/www/getfave.com/
• Citysquares, https://my.citysquares.com/search
• GenieKnows.com, http://www.genieknows.com/business/promote
• YellowBot, https://www.yellowbot.com/signin?yp_r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.yellowbot.com%2Fsubmit%2Fnewbusiness
• Kudzu, http://bizsuccess.kudzu.com/?p=384 (instructions are on this page),
• InfoUSA, http://leads.infousa.com/Landing/UpdateListing.aspx?bas_session=S55920174527381&bas_vendor=83552
• Localeze, http://webapp.localeze.com/extranet/login.aspx
• UniversalBusinessListing.org, https://www.ubl.org/Signup.aspx
Step 3 – Ask your Clients to Post a Review: Allowing customers to post a review is beneficial in that the number of reviews on Google maps is becoming more important to local rankings. In addition, people finding you on map listings are more likely to read your reviews before deciding to call you, so having a lot of positive reviews can help with your conversion of visitors to clients too. Ask all your clients to write you a review. You may even consider sending an email to past clients asking for the review. They will most likely be happy to do this for you.
Following these three relatively easy steps will result in greater visibility on Google Maps. It’s worth the time to get listed—Google will immediately provide your site with authority because you’ve established yourself as a real business, and appropriately rank you higher. Potential customers will find you—and you’ll benefit from the ROI because it’s absolutely free.