What’s My Chance of Being Found Online?
As an active digital marketing agency since 2009 I have learned the importance of local business online marketing. And I continue to ask the question “how much can local business owners increase traffic and sales if they just had their online presence established in places like Google, Bing, local business directories “citation directories” like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Local Merchant and other citation sites.
As an entrepreneur you’ve been in business for a while, you may have learned marketing in College, you’ve owned a few businesses or have been in an industry and seen how they do marketing over the years, then you have undoubtedly been seasoned in old school marketing, sometimes termed “offline marketing”.
So, you have a business, its 2019 and all you know is how it’s been done it for years. You get on board with Facebook because, thats the new marketing site to engage users with all that buzz, thats online marketing now, you post in Facebook, tell your friends, throw a grand opening party, lots of people come…then what?
While thats all good to a point, having a thriving social media campaign is great… then it leaves most local businesses with holes in their marketing.
Real people use Google to search for you. If you cant be found on Google Maps or Google search, where will they go to do business?
In the case of a local business that opened up near me recently, partners investing in a large startup fitness center, each a fairly well known celeb in some circles, now ready to crank up some marketing and get some sign-ups to meet their growth and investment goals.
They throw an amazing party, hundreds of people show up, eat their food and watch demonstrations, see how great the center is, watch an exhibition tennis match, stick around for the raffle prizes. Wow, was that ever one heck of a party…
I was told about the grand opening by word of mouth, so, I decided to go but didn’t know anything about the place, so, right away got on Google to find directions, and any news about it I could find.
I was stumped! I couldn’t find directions anywhere online, until about 20 minutes later I found their Facebook page on page 2 of Google search using the keywords fitness center + city. I then learned the name and was able to map the location manually on Google maps.
So, We got to the fitness center and parked, we walked in, nobody to attend to us, no entry committee, no signup , registration process, OK, so, we just walked around, kind of a free for all, enjoying the free food, exhibition matches and demos, lots of people around having fun.
I learned that they were clued into social media and missing out on a whole segment of vital online marketing with Google My Business.
Recently driving to Hailey we did a Google Maps search for coffee and saw a place that we wanted to try. We parked where Google told us the place was at, after about 15 minutes of walking around, we finally located the place down the street.
We had a cup of coffee and something to eat, really enjoyed the place, wow, what a great find. I wanted to mark the place so we could find the place next time.
As I look around I wondered why there were very few people in the hour we were there in what seemed to me like prime time.
Could it have been that others had a hard time finding them? I decided to fix that for them.
As a level 7 Google local guide it has it’s benefits for me, as an agency I can often times help business fix little issues like moving a map pin to the correct location, which is exactly what I did. I moved the official map marker in Google to the actually location where I was standing in the coffee shop and published it, added a few photos and a 5 star review and within a few minutes it was official.
I suggested to the owners to claim and verify their free Google My Business page for their business so they could have control of the hours, photos, create posts about their food and specials, that it would help attract more visitors and help sales. 6 weeks later, they have still not claimed their business page from Google.
Want a Thriving Business in 2019… What’s Your Plan?
Local businesses now have the fortune of getting listed online in Google maps for free…yes, I said FREE!
Google has offered these free listings since before 2009 when Google Places started to get noticed. Google sent hundreds of cars with high tech cameras around the United States and created their first complete map system online and developed a way for users to find local businesses from their desktops initially. More on the historical evolution of Google Maps can be seen here.
People searched for things like restaurants, shoe stores, shopping places, everything, and Google continued to connect as many existing businesses as they could acquire data for into their maps database for users to find them.
Google then rolled out a program called “Google Local Guides” where anyone could contribute and that program saw a widespread interest utilizing mobile technology Google could keep a detailed history of your travels around town, around the city, state, wherever you traveled and then prompt the user to contribute in the form of questions about a place you’ve visited, or to leave a review, or upload pictures.
Trust in Google!
This process helped Google reinforce the business location, validity, and much pertinent info like open and closed hours, ability to leave reviews and much more.
Almost 10 years later Google Maps has grown to monumental proportion with sophisticated amounts of data made available for users when they search online for almost anything they are looking for, where they can find and review local businesses on Google maps.
Google changed their name early on from Google places to Google maps, and have most recently rolled out a new generation of functionality in their “GMB” dashboard with lots of bells and whistles, which now gives local businesses all the tools they need in to establish a strong online presence, to be competitive within the Google space and be noticed when people search for them.
With contributions from trusted “Google Local Guides” the Google Maps database has become more and more accurate giving the user a much better experience when searching. Local businesses in large cities or more competitive areas or those who have mostly realized that this is a gold mine have gotten on board and seen the benefits.
In 2009 only about 10% or less of local business were listed in any kind of online maps or citation sites. In 2018 more than 75% of businesses have gotten listed with Google Maps. But the problem then becomes, if every business gets listed, that means that my competitors also get listed.
What Do I Do To Get Noticed On Google Maps
With the 2018 rollout from Google My Business, you can login and establish your own free “GMB”. You now have a ton of new features on your dashboard and all you need is a free Google account.
Any local business or service based business is eligible for a free GMB, all you need to claim your listing is an address to use for verification which is done by receiving a postcard from Google with a one time code that you enter into your GMB dashboard.
Where The Magic Happens?
You just need to input as much information about your business, including hours, images that show your product or service, your team, logo and more. Google even gives you an instant website in a box and the ability to create posts that will instantly show up in your Google knowledge panel representing your business.
Seek out a local marketing agency to help with promoting your business in combination with your GMB and getting you more online presence. Also, checkout the GMB cheat sheet and get started on your own free Google My Business listing.