If you have a local business, one component of search engine marketing that shouldn’t be overlooked is local search – in particular, Google Maps. With over 70% of the market share (Hitwise, March 2009), Google is the place where many people go when looking for local businesses. Also, as you may have noticed, when you perform a search with a location specified in the search query (i.e. “Florist NY”), listings from Google Maps will often appear at the top of the search results page.
So, how do you get your business on Google Maps? Your listing may already be there, but if not, you can add a business listing through Google’s Local Business Center (LBC). Even if your listing is already there, you should claim it. This will enable you to update or add additional information that may be pertinent to searchers. Through this listing, you can inform your potential customers about things such as business hours, payment types as well as provide photos, videos, and coupons. The great news is that being listed here is free!
Additionally, Google’s LBC launched a dashboard earlier this year that provides business owners with additional data including the number of times your listing appeared on a Google.com search or Google Maps, the level of interaction viewers had with your listing (requesting directions, clicking on links within your listing, etc.), the search queries that triggered your listing to appear, and even the zip codes of where visitors to your location are coming from when they request directions.
As a local business owner, you should take advantage of the data that Google’s products can provide. This includes not only the LBC data, but also from other resources and tools such as Google Analytics and AdWords.