Whilst everybody is desperately trying to get into the top ten search results on Google, there is a slightly easier route to getting more visitors from Google for a lot of companies.
Google Maps can be a very important source of visitors for geographically specific companies. It is particularly useful for companies that would traditional receive a lot of their custom from local directories such as the Yellow Pages.
You've probably already got a listing on Google Maps without even realising it. They have used many sources to get the data for the Google Maps listings so you should be on there, even if you don't have a website yet.
But of course, because they have used many different sources for this data, there are a lot of companies on there. So if you haven't configured your Google Maps listing, you're likely to be down near the bottom of the Google Maps search results.
So how do you improve your Google Maps ranking results?
Unfortunately, there are no clear, tried and tested methods for doing this. It hasn't been around as long as the traditional search engines, so the search engine optimisation gurus are still testing and refining our ideas.
But, there are some things which are starting show results. Firstly, claim your listing if you haven't already.
Google aren't 100% confident in the data that they have for Google Maps, so if you claim your listing, Google will be confident that your company actually exists. You can do this by logging in with your Google Account (or creating one first), then registering yourself as the "Business Owner" for the listing that you find. Of course, if your company isn't listed yet, just log in and create a new listing.
Add as much data as you can about your company. As some photos too if you have them, especially your company logo. Listings with the company logo on them tend to rank higher than those without.
And now, the real crux of this article. Get some reviews on your listing. But don't just write one yourself. For a start, it will have your login details next to it so visitors will know you've just written it yourself. Also, real reviewers do not write the same way that a company would review itself. It's obvious to visitors if you've written it yourself.
If you already have some testimonials from your customers, ask them if they could write them on your Google Maps listing. Send them a link to your listing to make it easier. If you don't already have testimonials from your customers, start asking for them. Ask them to put them directly onto your Google Maps listing, then you can cut and paste them onto your own website or other publications if you want them there too.
It's easier to copy them from your Google Maps listing than to copy them to your listing.
Google Maps listings with at least one review tend to rank higher than those without any reviews. And of course, the reviews that you get should also help to turn those visitors into customers.
But does anybody use Google Maps to search for local businesses?
Quite a few people do. But not huge numbers. Yell.com is probably still a bigger direct source of leads.
But, have you noticed that sometimes Google Maps listings also appear in the results of normal searches on Google? If you search for a keyword followed by "in" followed by a location, you sometimes get a little map at the top of the results with a few results next to it.
If you can get your Google Maps listing into the top 7 or 8 of the Google Maps results, you should also get into this number one spot for anybody searching for "your industry IN your area". Just try searching for something like "plumbers in Gloucester" to see what I mean. Those map results are just the Google Maps listings and they are all in the prime position.
Your Google Maps listing is more than just a little gimmick for Google's toy, it's potentially a fairly easy number one spot in the Google search engine results. So get your listing completed and get some reviews on it.