Google Maps is the best way to get on the first page of Google, period. If you are on the first page of Google, you will be exposed to 85% of the people who are using Google for search. You can’t say that about your newspaper ads, your radio ads or your TV spots if you use them. Yellow Pages use is down to less than 60% of the population now. The Yellow Pages Association reports that in the age group 18-24. only 36% use the Yellow Pages in any given month.
When someone does a search on Google, try this yourself, for “plumbers near hastings ontario” up come an assortment of listings, but prominent on the right hand side of the page is the famous Google Map, with 7 spots highlighted. You will also see a list of plumbing contractors that Google has identified as being near Hastings.
Below that list of 7 is a bunch of other web locations Google has found. Most of these will be directories that have lists of plumbers or plumbing supply places or whatever else Google’s search robots believe are of interest to you. Frequently you won’t find real plumbers listed until you get to page 2 or 3 of Google’s results.
The good news is that it is possible for you to get on that Google Maps listing for free. Your business may already be listed. If it is, click on it when it shows up. At the bottom of the list of 7 is a phrase that says, “More results…” Click on that if you don’t find your business listed in the first group. If you still don’t see your business, then Google hasn’t found you listed anyplace online. In that case go back to the basic Google search page and type “Google Places” and click on the link or just go directly to “google.com/places.” This will take you to the Google Places page where you can claim your business listing on Google. Click on the “Get Started” button and away you go.
If you don’t have a Google Account, sign up for one. You will wind up with a free Gmail account as well. Maybe you should think about calling your Gmail account “firstname.lastname@example.org. If your business doesn’t already have an email account this would be a great way to give your customers and clients a way to contact you about business. This part is a little tedious, but it only takes a few minutes of your time.
They are going to ask you for your regular email address and then, once you accept the terms of service you will have to click on a link they send to your regular email. Once that is all done you can go ahead and complete your business listing.
Make sure to add your address exactly as it already appears online, if you show up anyplace else. Make sure your listing has the same phone number. Don’t have a cell phone number on your website and a different number in your Places listing. (Some people start a part time business and list a cell number, then get a regular land line when they go full time but the cell number is still out there on the Internet in different places).
Pay attention to your business description and to the services/products you provide. See my previous page about keywords. Do your keyword search and determine what words you want to use to describe your business. Use words people are searching with.
Your listing will do better if you load up photographs and videos. And make sure you include your hours of business. Google lends more weight to listings that allow people to come to the business location, so tick that box when you are filling all the info in. It’s not like you are likely to have to worry about a parade of customers coming to your door if you work at home.
If you do have a website, make sure you reference it. Google makes the assumption that businesses that are serious about service will have a website. Most don’t so you won’t be penalized if your competition doesn’t have one and you don’t either. If all your competitors DO have websites, then you may have to consider it. The good news is that a simple one or two page website can be had for a couple of hundred dollars these days, including the cost of getting a domain name.
So there you have it. If you are in an extremely competitive niche, then you will need additional effort to make sure you are on page one, and higher in the listings, but many businesses still haven’t claimed their Google Places listings. By simply doing so, you will make your business easier to find, and more importantly, more likely to attract the attention of new customers.
Check back for more information soon. In coming weeks I will be providing advice about what you can do to make your website more search engine friendly, whether you should have a mobile version of your website to make it easier for prospect to get info about you on their smart phones and how you should be using email for a 50:1 return on your investment.
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