Launched in 2005, Google Maps has become a critical tool for local businesses to reach potential customers in their geographic region. If you run a laundromat, restaurant, plumbing company, HVAC company, auto mechanic shop, coffee shop or any other local service type business in the Atlanta area, your survival depends on local customers. This is where local SEO comes into play.
The Importance of Local SEO
For companies that sell products that can easily be shipped, they can thrive by selling to people all over the country and possibly even the world. It’s hard to “ship” the experience of an evening out at your Marietta restaurant or a service call to check an Atlanta homeowner’s HVAC system. This is where you need to dominate your local competitors, and having a good listing on Google Maps is an important part of accomplishing this.
What Google Maps Does for You
This website from Google does more for you than simply list your business with its complete address and contact information. In all the times you’ve ever searched for a local business yourself, you know it shows potential customers exactly where it is on a local map in their area, so they can drive straight to it. It also shows a street view they can switch over to in order to spot landmarks and make finding the business even easier.
Beyond serving as an online ad and navigation tool, Google Maps also lends credibility to your local business. About 46 percent of all Google searches are for local companies and organizations. When was the last time you saw a phone book? Even with white pages and yellow pages listings online, they are dwarfed by the number of people who use Google to find everything online. When someone does a search for your company and doesn’t see a Google Maps listing for your business, what impression do you think that makes on them about your company?
Google Maps also makes it a snap for customers to leave a review for your metro Atlanta business after they’ve had an interaction with it. There’s a convenient “Write a review” button for them to click on. This can be a double-edged sword, however, so make sure customers and clients have a positive experience when doing business with you. Each good review is like a personalized sales pitch recommending your local goods or services to others, which only cements your credibility online.
The Relation Between Google My Business and Google Maps
Let’s say you get the importance of listing your business on Google Maps. What does Google My Business have to do with that? Quite simply, using this Google service is the best way for you to get a listing on Google Maps. There is an “add your business” button on Google Maps that you can also use. The problem with this approach is that you don’t have exclusive control over your business listing when you do it this way. Anyone can come in and modify the listing for your company, which is far from desirable.
This is why it’s recommended that you start a Google My Business account, and use that to manage your online presence across Google’s search and map functionalities. Fortunately, it is a free service, which is always welcome news for small business owners looking to keep their costs down. You’ll have complete control over your listing and can update any information when needed. Google does its best to make it as simple as possible to set up your account.
How Do I Set up a Google My Business Account?
Google’s website for Google My Business lists compelling stats to make you want to get your business listed there as soon as possible. Included in these is the fact that each month approximately five billion people search on Google for restaurants, 600 million search for beauty salons and hair salons, five billion search for coffee shops and similar stats for other types of businesses. These are all the types of companies that people will be searching for in their local area. If you have a retail or service business that depends on a local customer base for your survival, you’ll benefit tremendously from a Google My Business listing that gets your company on Google Maps.
You start by going to their website. You’ll see a blue button labeled “Manage now” that you need to click. The next page that loads will prompt you to input your company name, and then the next page asks if you want to add your location. After selecting yes for this option, you will then add your address. You’ll also be prompted to select what category best describes your type of business. It lists out the available categories for you. There are hundreds to choose from, and you can also add secondary categories as well as change this primary category later on if you wish. Picking the most relevant category that matches your business will produce the best result in terms of getting you high up in local Google search results. After entering your contact information, you click the “Finish” button, and then you have your listing up and running!
Be Sure to Verify Your Listing!
Don’t come this far and then forget the last, critical step in the process. After your listing has gone live, you’ll need to click the “Verify now” button. This needs to be done to prevent the problem of others being able to change your company’s listing information. Google offers you a variety of verification methods. These will include phone, postcard and email verification.
Keep Your Local Business Growing
A steady flow of new customers is the lifeblood of any business. About 97 percent of people learn about a local company over the internet before deciding whether to contact it or patronize it. This means a robust online presence is essential to keep a steady stream of phone calls, orders and customers incoming. There are many aspects to fully accomplishing this for your Atlanta or Marietta area business. You need a modern, SEO-friendly website that has compelling content that converts visitors into leads or customers. With the emergence and growth of social media over the past 10 years, having a strong social media presence is no longer optional for covering all the bases of growing your company. Local search may also involve getting your business listed in certain local online directories relevant to your company’s industry. Finally, you need a well-done Google Maps listing through a Google My Business account.
If this all seems a bit much to set up and maintain over time, you’re not alone. Let’s be honest, you already have a business to run. Especially if you’re a local small business, it’s not likely you have your own digital marketing department. This is why many entrepreneurs and small businesses seek out digital marketing agencies to handle their online presence for them.
Work With Digital Marketing Pros
At Newman Web Solutions, we can handle all aspects of digital marketing from web design and logo design to paid search marketing and SEO services. Facebook Ads, social media marketing and business listings are also methods we use to get you found online. One of these types of business listings we can handle for you is your Google My Business set up and your Google Maps listing.
We realize that we may have made the steps for setting up your Google Maps listing sound fairly simple, and in terms of the minimum that needs to be done to achieve basic visibility for potential customers, it is simple. That being said, not all Google Maps listings are equal. When you search for other company’s listings, you’ll see there’s a description of what they sell or offer as well as various pictures showing their business, products and other aspects of what they offer. Our digital marketing experts can help craft a Google Maps listing with a description and photos that will have customers ringing your phone non-stop or knocking down your door to get what you have to offer. Please contact us at Newman Web Solutions at your earliest opportunity, so we can help you reach the next plateau of growth for your local business.