No matter what your profession or business category, you must optimize your Web site(s) in order to compete. 

Although there are many additional important strategies for optimizing your presence on Google, this is by far one of the most important.

No matter what size business you have, you need to be thinking “local” because that’s where your customers come from. If you do not already promote your business on Google Maps (and Yahoo! Local), then you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Google Maps will assist in getting you high search engine visibility for competitive locally oriented keywords and phrases like "SEO Marketing Johannesburg", "SEO Marketing Johannesburg, South Africa", or "Digital Marketing Johannesburg, South Africa." As you will see, I am using Marketing for my examples throughout this report because BrandMedia is our local Marketing business.

 

When your potential customers search Google Maps for area information, they'll find your business: your address, your hours of operation, your contact information, and even photos and videos of your business, products, or services. Google Maps will even display a detailed map indicating your business location and give easy to follow directions to your customer on how to get to you. This is FREE to set up and you can do this before you even have a Web site for your business. Google Maps is a great marketing tool for your business.

"Google Maps Provides High Visibility in Search Results" 

Google Maps results usually show up right below the Google AdWords PPC Ads and above the organic search results in this order…Google AdWords Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads Google Maps-Map and Business Listings (A, B, C, D, E… etc.) "Organic" Rankings - Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

You can use Google AdWords PPC Advertising, Google Maps and "Organic" Search Engine Optimization to get top placement on the Google search engine to generate more business.

 If your business gets listed prominently on Google Maps, you will usually appear before businesses competing to be #1 in the organic search results. This can bring you many new clients each and every month.

How to Get Listed in Google Maps

 Adding your listing to Google Maps is very easy. Just follow these step by step instructions and your listing can be online usually within 48 hours.

 Step 1: Log in

To create your Google Maps listing follow these easy directions:

Navigate to http://www.google.com/local/add

Log into your Google account (if you do not have a Google account you will need to set up an account).  Click "Add New Listing"

 Step 2: Create Your Listing

In this step you will enter your Company/Organization name, Street Address, City, State, ZIP, Phone, Email address, Website address and Description. To the right of your data, a preview window will display what your listing will look like. After you have entered your information, click "Next."

 Step 3: Add / Claim Your Listing

In this step you will "Add" or "Claim" your listing. If Google already has a listing for your business, you will have the option to claim the current listing or add the listing you just entered. To claim the listing, click "Claim" and follow the instructions. Google will verify your listing by calling the phone number you entered. Answer the phone and type in the pin number listed on the screen…OR

You can also verify your listing by having Google send a postcard with your pin number to your office. Follow the verification instructions on the postcard. It’s not junk mail, be sure not to throw it away!

Step 4: Add Some "Flair" to Your Listing

Once your listing has been verified, you will be able to provide additional information. Be sure to add the Category of your business (Marketing), your Hours of Operation, Payment options, additional Details (such as parking instructions, etc.)

Add some "flair" to your listing! Google Maps will allow you to add up to 10 photos and 5 videos. You can also add coupons.

NOTE: Once you tie the listing to your Google account, you can log into the Google Business Center any time to edit your listing or add additional details such as photos or videos.

Results:

The result of a well-optimized Google Maps listing is top positioning on Google and the Google Maps system with a personalized listing including your business name, address and contact information.

Step 5: Optimize Your Listing to Get to the Top of the List

Google gathers business information from numerous websites (online Yellow Pages directories, and other sources) to populate Google Maps search results. Yes, you can easily enter your business information into the Google Local Business Center for free, but to be listed at the top of the list you’ll need to optimize. This is similar to Search Engine Optimization in that you’ll need to get your website listed on other local websites and databases to rank high.

Here are Some Tips for Optimizing Your Google Maps Listing:

Think Locally –

Having a business location in the CENTER of town helps you get to the top of the list. The closer your office is to the center of your city, the higher your listing is usually positioned on the Google Maps list.

For example, if you view any Google Maps list, the first three listings returned (A, B & C) are located in the center of the city. The businesses listed further down the list migrate out from the center of town.

You should try to get listed in other local directories as well.

Local Search Engines like Google Maps get their information to supply the mapping information by collecting details about local businesses by crawling and compiling data from other online websites, directories and databases. Therefore, having listings with the local online "Directory Pages" can (and most often does) help your listing to get positioned higher up, thus driving more traffic to your site.

Here’s a list of some additional directories that you should try to get listed in:

MerchantCircle.com (Includes Reviews of Local Businesses)

http://www.merchantcircle.com/

AllPages.com

http://www.allpages.com/

CitySearch.com (Includes Reviews of Local Businesses)

http://www.citysearch.com/

InsiderPages.com (Includes Reviews of Local Businesses, Google Maps uses this system)

http://www.insiderpages.com/

Local.com

http://www.local.com/

SuperPages.com (Idearc)

http://www.superpages.com/

Yelp.com (Includes Reviews of Local Businesses)

http://www.yelp.com/

Industry Specific Directories:

PhotoClicksPro

http://www.photoclickspro.com

PhotographyDirectory.org

http://www.photographydirectory.org

PhotoLinks.com

http://www.photolinks.com

Here is the hierarchy of optimization techniques listed by importance:

  1. Completeness of information in your listing
  2. Keywords included in your company name (don't SPAM)
  3. Website Optimization-use City and State keywords in your Titles and Meta Tags, add your address to your web pages, etc.
  4. Category w/ Search Terms (small business consultant, graphic designer)
  5. Proximity to center of city
  6. "Flair"-photos, videos, coupons, payment methods, parking instructions
  7. Listings in directories that include local address info (SuperPages.com, YellowPages.com, CitySearch.com, etc.) Number of In-Bound Links (IBLs) from local city websites and directories
  8. Total number of reviews
  9. High ratings in your Google reviews (More stars can mean higher positioning)

Google Maps is a great way to make it easy for your customers to find you so you can build your business. If you have a business that caters to local customers in your city or town, add your free listing on Google Maps and optimize it for TOP ranking!