Did you know that 91% of website traffic comes from the first page of search results? Only 4% of traffic comes from the second page of search results. Being second best simply isn’t good enough. Fortunately, your Google local business listing can help propel your business to that coveted position on the first page of search results.
One glance around any public place will show you how many people use their smartphones to look for local businesses. What’s more, 28% of local searches on a smartphone result in a purchase. Here’s how to capture some of that business with your Google Maps listing. (Learn more about why Google Maps is more important than ever for small businesses.)
You may not even realize that you probably already have a Google Maps listing. Google creates listings for local businesses for free, but if you don't "claim" your listing, it could be highly inaccurate at worst and extremely sparse at best.
To get started, visit Google My Business and claim your listing. Next, fill in the basics. Be sure to use keywords you want to rank for in search results as part of the description of your business — this will boost your odds of ranking in the top Google Maps results.
Now, start making the most of your Google local business listing. Google recommends taking the following 5 steps.
Are you offering new business hours? Did you move to a new location or change your business phone number? It's important to ensure that your Google Maps local business listing is always accurate — there's nothing worse than a customer making a trip to your location, only to find that your business is closed or that you moved.
You can use Google My Business to quickly update your information, and your listing will update across Google Search and Google Maps. (Note: If you have a listing in other local search directories besides your Google local business listing, make sure your NAP — name, address and phone — information is exactly the same across all of the sites. Inconsistency will hurt your search rankings.)
For best results, don't rely on the same old Google Maps listing every day. Turn your listing into a marketing tool by regularly sharing what's new with your business to attract attention and keep customers coming back. For example, you can use your Google listing to post your special of the day, new products you just got in stock, current promotions you’re offering, or special hours for an upcoming holiday Just create a post from within your Google My Business account, and it will show up in your Google Maps listing in search results. This is a great way to ensure that when people see your listing, they also see your most current offerings.
If it comes down to a choice between two local businesses — one with plenty of eye-catching photos of its menu items, products, or location and the other with a blurry shot of the storefront — which do you think the average consumer will choose? Not only is a picture worth a thousand words, but it can also tip the scales in your favor.
Entice prospects with professional-quality photos. There’s no limit on how many images you can add to your Google Maps listing. If you're active on social media and share lots of photos on Instagram, for instance, it's simple to use the same images in your Google local business listing to keep things fresh.
Pay attention to the reviews that appear with your Google Maps listing. The more Google reviews you have, and the higher your overall star rating, the better. Your reviews are also a factor in your local search ranking, according to Moz. To make the most of reviews, respond to positive reviews with a quick "Thank you," or by sharing some additional information the reviewer might be interested in.
Keep your comments and responses very brief — remember, people reading them are likely to be on their smartphones, so don't test their patience. You can respond to reviews from within your Google My Business account.
Once you've claimed your Google My Business listing, you can use Google's analytics tools to see what users do after they view your listing. For example, you can see how many people call your business directly from your listing, how many look up directions to your business, and how many visit your website. If potential customers request driving directions to your business, you can see where in the community they’re coming from. You can also see how many times the photos in your listing have been viewed and how that compares to other businesses like yours.
For example, if you discover that photos from the restaurant down the street are getting lots more views, look at their photos to get ideas for improving yours. (Then try these tips to get more traffic to your business website and these ideas to get your business on the first page of search results.)