How to Get Found by Local Customers
It’s vitally important that a local business has its business citations properly set up, claimed and optimized. One of the most important of these listings is Google Maps – the listings that can drive customers straight to your door.
When a prospect searches Google for a specific type of business, he will likely use a desktop computer or a mobile (smartphone) device – and if your business comes up in the search, you’re just a quick click away from a prospect calling you, or driving directly to your door.
A prospect searching “restaurants near me” will be given – intuitively – a list of the restaurants in closest proximity to that searcher. The most popular restaurants will be the top three that are returned in the Google Maps results.
The results will include a brief profile of the business and a map to navigate to the business. There may be even more detail and photos, as well as customer reviews, indicated by up to five gold stars.
A well-optimized google Maps listing is like money in the bank for a local business. You can’t afford to be missing yours.
Search for your business now, to see how your listing looks and if it can be found in the top 3 results. If not, the competitors that show up there are the ones getting the lion’s share of the business.
Showing up on Google Maps
The first step in showing up in this lucrative online real estate is to create a profile on Google My Business. Then, make sure your business information is up to date, accurate and consistent. Your address and local phone number, hours of operation and business description should be listed consistently across all online sources (online directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo, etc) to avoid confusion.
Be sure to use a local phone number – not a toll-free 800 number – to signal to Google that you’re really a local business.
Don’t neglect the aesthetics of your listing. Add as many images or graphics as you can – a professional, branded profile photo or logo, and good quality images depicting your products and services.
Next, encourage your customers to leave a reviews on your Google My Business site by giving them a direct link to your profile. This can be sent in an email, thanking them for their business, or in a signature block in your standard emails. You can also provide them with printed material directing them to your site. Attach a business card to invoices or include in mailings, asking for feedback which helps direct other prospects to your business.
Ultimately, you’ll want your listing to appear in the Local Three Pack – the top three local results displayed on Google’s search results page. This doesn’t happen automatically; it may take some effort, depending on just how competitive your business niche is. To earn one of these coveted spots, be sure your Google listing is complete, by including:
- Hours of operation
- Your website URL
- A local phone number
- Your business category
- A business logo and cover photo
The more pictures, the better – including those uploaded by customers!
Wait, there’s more work to do. Claiming your company’s listing on as many local online business directories as possible helps your overall Google ranking as well. It’s called “authority optimization” and it ensures that the Google algorithm sees their listing as the most trustworthy and relevant.
How Reviews Help
The most effective tool for getting your business to appear higher on Google Maps is to get a steady stream of customer reviews. Get more than your competition, and try to respond to customer reviews – both good and bad – frequently This shows your business is paying attention and that customer criticisms won’t fall on deaf ears. Even if some of the reviews are just 3 or 4 stars, that shows an overall positive online reputation and a real business that has dealt with both happy and disgruntled customers. A business with nothing but 5 star reviews can also seem too good to be true – who is that perfect? – so don’t fret if a few of your customers dock you a star or two, as long as the overall score remains closer to 4 or 5 than 2 or 3!
Need more tips for ranking on Google Maps? Social Karma Marketing can help, so give us a call and we’ll get your online reputation in ship shape.