While Google has made a name for itself as a search engine it is emerging as the world leader in online mapping as well by leveraging the popularity of its search engine in promoting its ever-increasing map offerings. Tom Dahm, President of BridgePose Search Engine Marketing, writes in the Winter 08/09 Issue of Search Marketing Standard, “Google Maps now holds 22% of the local search market and should overtake the market leader, MapQuest, by the end of 2009.” Google’s soon-to-be map mecca is important to your business because of where the maps are placed on Google’s search engine. Certainly there is a tab at the top of the Google search page allowing users to search within maps, but what is more important is that these same maps are frequently inserted into the actual search engine results above the organic search results. This means that in some cases a well optimized Google Maps listing for a geographically specific business can actually be displayed before a search engine optimized website.
I. Get Listed
To get your store listed simply go to the Google Local Business Center, create an account, and add your listing. You will need to provide all relevant business information- name, address, phone number, etc. Google with then verify that your listing is legitimate by mailing a postcard to your location with a pin number that you will have to go back into your account and enter, or they will call your business and provide the pin number. Once your listing is verified it will begin appearing in Google Maps.
II. Fix Listing Errors
If you spot an error in your business’s listing you can edit it at any time with Google, but remember to be patient as updates can take a long time to filter through to your listing.
Occasionally multiple listings will appear for your business (commonly after your business has moved). You should always make sure to delete duplicates so that there is not outdated information online misleading potential customers.
A lesser known way of correcting errors in your listing is to contact Tele Atlas, which is the map provider on which Google bases their listings. Google draws geographical information from Tele Atlas and then adds layers of information over that basic listing from a variety of other online sources to give the most comprehensive listing for each company. Therefore, fixing an error with Tele Atlas does not guarantee that it will be fixed with Google, but it is a solid first step.
III. Optimize the Listing
Once you have your business listing on Google Maps and it is error-free you will want to take that next step and optimize it to try to drive traffic to your business. Here are some of Tom Dahm’s important tips to use for the most optimal Google Maps listing:
- Use key words in the business name and description
- Get customers to write positive online reviews
- Have local websites link to you
- Use a complete address so your proximity to the search area can be determined
-Kate Pierce eCommerce specialist