Getting your business on Google Maps is an essential step to ensuring your customers can find you. It's a simple – and completely free - first step to ensuring your business shows up in local searches. And with Google having almost 90% of the global search engine market, it's more important than ever
Success in local search is about ensuring all the information held about you is detailed and accurate. The more precise you can be, the better. Thankfully, establishing a maintaining a strong online presence is simpler than you might think.
How to get your business on Google Maps
To get your business location featured on Google Maps, you'll need to create Google My Business account. It's free to do and takes a few minutes. You'll need to provide some information about your business, including your industry, opening times and a link to your website.
Before Google validates your account, you'll need to confirm your address. You can verify your address by phone, SMS or requesting and receiving a postcard to your address from Google.
Once you've confirmed your businesses address your profile will be set up, and your company featured in local searches. Users can see your business on the map and use your location to find directions to your premises from wherever they are in the world.
Setting up your Google My Business page is simple, but you should review it regularly to ensure the information is accurate and up to date. You can also check out reviews customers have left about your business too.
Improving local search rankings
As well as featuring your business on Google Maps, it's crucial that your business appears in local organic search results.
Investing in search engine optimisation can help improve your visibility in search results. A consultant will provide details of local search volume and identify keywords that can help your site rank better in organic results. It's not cheap, but given the importance of search engines to the success of your business, is an intelligent investment in your future success.
As well as improving the organic ranking of your site, you can target local customers through pay-per-click advertising. Search adverts will display your advert at the top of search results – if you can afford it.
Search ads are successful for a reason - because most of us don't bother to scroll past the first few search results! To rank highly you’ll have to bid for each click, and the costs can soon mount up – particularly if you work in competitive industries. We recommend speaking to a professional before investing in ads and to set a budget before you begin.
Today, over half of all Google search traffic comes from a mobile device, so your website must be optimised for mobile. Good local content and responsive design can boost your search performance.
As well as content designed to appeal to your target customers, you might want to run a website performance check too to ensure that it loads quickly and functions correctly on all devices.
For many users, social media is a search engine – so ensure you have social profiles on the leading platforms and invest time managing and maintaining them.
Customers may search for your business, or look for recommendations from friends, family and other followers. It's not a sure-fire strategy for success, but depending on your industry, it can be worthwhile.
Directories, booking and review sites
As the power of Google and other search engines has increased, the importance of local directories has decreased. In fact, there's little reason to invest time (and often no justification for investing money) in local guides that repackage results from search engines.
However, there are some exceptions. Specialist directories for specific industries can be hugely beneficial to your business.
If you operate in the hospitality sector, you'll need to be on TripAdvisor. If you're a member of a trade body, guild or union then a listing in a directory or on a website can benefit your business.
Local councils and other providers sometimes produce 'trusted trader' directories for businesses like electricians and builders that can be powerful and profitable to feature in.
If you’re a professional tradesperson, you may want to register on a virtual directory such as Rated People, Checkatrade and My Builder. These platforms will connect you with potential customers who are searching for your services.
They can be highly effective, but you will need to register on the service, be vetted by the provider and pay fees to the company. You may be charged an annual fee or be asked to pay a small amount to ‘bid’ for the job. While you may find you have more leads, there are no guarantees you’ll win the jobs – but you will still be charged.
You'll have to decide which printed and virtual directories are worth your investment. Before taking the plunge, ask for visitor stats or engagement figures so you can see what you're buying.
You'll have to decide which directories are worth your investment. Before taking the plunge, ask for visitor stats or engagement figures so you can see what you're buying.