How to Dominate Maps & Google Search with Your Small Business
The major focus of any small business looking to grow and expand should be continually attracting new customers. But this is not always as easy as it sounds. Small business owners are occupied with a lot of things. From dealing with vendors to managing employees and making inventories, things can get quickly overwhelming for just one man that he forgets to push enough effort into marketing and managing the business.
But that doesn’t mean small business has to ignore marketing altogether. Marketing should be the core of the business. Even if you offer the best product or service, no one will know your business exists without marketing it. So what’s the way out? The ultimate solution is leveraging the power of Google Search and Google Maps. These two are great, effective tools every business owner should have in their arsenal.
In this guide, we will be throwing more light into these two tools and show you how you can make your business more accessible there to attract new customers to your business. So, let’s get right into work!
The Way Consumers Find Business Online Has Changed
Many things have changed about customer journey and how they find local businesses online. Gone are the days when a well-designed website is all you need to help people find and know about your business. There are now many resources at consumers’ disposal to achieve that. In fact, the majority of customer interactions now happen outside your website.
The real deal happens on platforms like Facebook, Yelp, Google Search, and Google Maps. Unfortunately, people also expect your business to appear across all these platforms because that is what they use in finding and researching any business.
That means that for your business to be visible online and be seen by the right people, you will need to maintain a significant presence across as many platforms as possible. And with the number of platforms and devices through which your potential customers browse the web, it can be really challenging keeping up with your customers.
Since there have been so much change in the internet space, you also need to revisit your digital strategies so you don’t get left behind by your competitors. So, where do you start? Start by asking this simple question, “What does Google want to see in my digital footprint?”
Sincerely, all that Google is after is to provide quality search results to its users when they come to use the platform. Google wants to keep its users, so they can return again and again to use the platform and view paid listings, which is where Google gets its money. But this can only happen if users consistently get useful solutions to the problems they search on the platform.
Since you want Google to befriend your content and business, you need to help Google achieve this primary goal. How can you do that? By providing relevant and mobile-friendly content, geo-tagged content, consistent across a wide range of platforms.
The Five Pillars of Online Visibility
These days, people search for a business with a location in mind. They want to find a business that can meet their needs right away, and so are always looking for the ones close to them. And that is where the five pillars of online visibility come in.
To build a strong digital footprint and help your business to be easily found by prospective customers, especially on Google Search and Google Maps, you need to incorporate these five pillars into your digital strategies.
This indicates how fresh your content is. Consumers and the search engine want to see that you are still in business, and the only way to know this is through the recency of your content. So ask yourself how often you publish content on your website, social media, and directories.
This helps your potential customers know what time of the day your business is opened. The best conversion happens when your business is opened at the time searchers are also doing their searches.
How well can Google trust you? Do you have enough business or website linking to your website as a reliable source of knowledge or expertise?
What is your location in relation to the searchers? Do you clearly indicate the areas you service on your website and listens? That is the only way Google can know if you are the right business to send their user when they are looking for a business in your area.
There is no point in making your business visible to potential customers if you don’t provide what’s useful to them. So how relevant is what you are creating to your target customers. Is your content providing solutions to their pain points?
Building a Digital Footprint with Digital Real Estate
Building a digital footprint that will help promote your business and help it achieve its goals will mean providing just what matters most to your customers. Whether you are running Google Ads or Facebook Ads, if you fail to identify your customers’ pain points, you won’t be able to get results from your resources.
But when you understand what matters most to your customers, you will be able to determine the type of content to create and showcase on your listings, the type of tools you need to promote your business, and on which platform to do so. It will also give you a proper insight into how best to optimize your website and content for local searches.
Remember that the primary goal of Google is to provide its users with the most valuable information they need, including showing them the right business to patronize. So if you are really who and what you say you are, Google will definitely not having any problem sending users your way.
But how does Google know and have the right information about your business to be able to determine who you really are and what your business does? It all comes from the information you provide online. And that is the first thing you need to get right if you are going to build a significant digital footprint for your business.
Therefore, help Google algorithms understand your business when it crawls your website and local listings by providing consistent, valuable information about your business. So, here are some factors you will need to pay close attention to:
Your business information
This is basically your NAP – name, address, and phone number of your business. Ensure you have this information accurate and consistent across all platforms where your business appears. The more consistent they are, the more credibility Google assigns to your business, hence helping it rank higher in search results. In addition to your NAP, you should also ensure that you maintain a correct description of your business, services, and category across all platforms.
Social media is has become the common place people stay and hang out these days. And most consumers say they start their research there whenever they need to patronize a local business. So your customers expect to see you there.
However, it is not enough to have a social media profile for your business; you need to regularly engage and interact with your customers. If you only post once in a blue moon, you are sending a message to your customers that either you don’t know what you are doing in your company or the company is out of business altogether.
Even if it is not the major way through which customers find your business, a website still plays an important role in building an effective digital footprint. It provides a major avenue for potential customers to know about your business.
To get people to purchase your products or services, you need to first get them to trust your business. Trust is what drives conversion in any business, and that is exactly what reviews help you with. So aim at getting as many five-star reviews in as many places as possible to build trust in your customers. At the same time, you want to make it an ongoing process because no potential customer will trust a business whose most recent review was posted six months ago. It may tell your customers that you are probably out of business.
These are the local listing where potential customers can learn about your business. Popular examples include Google My Business. Yelp and some other third-party review sites.
Organic traffic and engagement are good, but sometimes you need to promote your business to achieve the best result. That includes giving pay-per-click advertising a try. It can provide you with an amazing opportunity to attract people who may be interested in your business.
Content is king. That still applies to today’s business. So tailor your content across all platforms – web pages, social media, local listing to meet the needs and expectations of your customers. Your content should be answering questions your ideal customers are asking.
Google My Business
Google My Business is another amazing tool that people use to find businesses online. Getting your GMB page all set up can help you drive quality and qualifying leads to your business. We will discuss this more in a later section in this guide.
All of these factors have the unique individual roles they play in helping you achieve a desirable digital footprint. With most of them well ironed out, you can be sure finding your business online won’t be a problem for your customers.
Tapping Into the Potentials of Google My Business (GMB)
GMB is a powerful tool every small business owner should leverage for their business. So if you are yet to know about this free yet effective tool, that should come as a priority on your list. GMB helps you attract and retain new customers. The platform helps you feed potential customers with just the right information about your business.
Most customers are going to find your company and put a call through right from GMB without having to visit your website at all. The information you provide here helps the customer decide whether to use your company or head on to your competitor. That is why you need to make sure you have accurate information about your business on GMB.
To make the most of the platform, below are some details you will need to pay special attention to:
- Your business name, address, and phone number –have to be consistent with what you have across all platforms.
- Description of your business – it has to represent your company in the best way possible
- Reviews – they are important to help potential customers trust and want to do business with you. So encourage your customers to leave reviews for you on GMB
- Website – include a link to your website
- Areas that you serve – let your customers know the areas you serve to help them quickly decide if you are the right fit for them
- Business category – make sure your business is listed in the right category to increase your chance of being found by your ideal customers
- Business hours – include hours of the day you are in operation
- Photos – include a couple of photos of your team or your services. If you have some before-and-after photos, add them too
Step 5: Contact Directory Websites
Perhaps you are wondering how local listings impact your business’ visibility. Well, the truth is that if you are going to help your business become more visible online, you just have to pay more attention to local listings. These are all the places your business can be found online, and that is what Google uses to feed its algorithm to determine if a business is worthy of being ranked for local searches or not.
Luckily there are many local directories out there where you can list your business and begin your journey to more visibility. Even though your website also plays a good role in determining your presence online, your local listings are what determines how readily your business appears on search engines and become visible to potential customers looking for your type of products or services.
Does that mean your website is negligible after all? No, that is not it. While your local listings are important, your website is also equally important. Remember that your website will be receiving your audience and help them find out more about your business. So, like your local listings, you also need to prepare your website to receive your visitors by making sure the following elements are always correct:
- Your NAP
- Low loading speed
- Call to action
- Fresh and relevant content
- Reliable customer service
- Local structured data
Prioritize Quality Content
You definitely must have heard this saying before that content is king. Yes, it is still very much true today. To increase your visibility and conversion online, you need to rank providing quality content high in your marketing strategies. Providing quality content portrays you to your audience as a reliable source of genuine information to their problems. That alone is enough to build the trust you need to turn potential customers into repeated customers.
You just need to provide your customers with fresh and recent information that they will likely not find anywhere else. Below are some content types you can incorporate into your marketing strategy:
- Blog posts
- GMB Posts
- Social media posts
- User-generated content
Take Advantage of Social Media Too
More than ever before, social media is now part of any business’s digital footprint. Most people today spend a chunk of their time on social media and use the various social media platforms to research the products and services they need. So if you are considering meeting your target audience right where they are, you just have to get yourself on social media.
But don’t just create a profile there for the sake of just creating a profile. Instead, use your social media profiles to interact and engage with your customers. Regularly provide useful information there and always go all out to help your audience get solutions to their problems. That way, they would build a sense of trust around you and your products. And when the time comes for them to make a purchase, it won’t be too difficult to convince them to choose your products over your competitor’s.
Having a good social media presence can also help attract and convert new customers, especially if you are the type that has mastered the art of communicating with your audience.
Don't Only Rely On Organic Traffic; Fire up some Google Ads
While organic traffic is great, sometimes, it is not enough to get the job done. So try Google ads to generate more quality leads for your business. Promoting your business using Google ads helps you place the business right in front of the right people and at the right time.
Although there are different variations within Google’s offerings when it comes to ads, they all perform the same function – attracting higher-quality leads. Since these are advertisements approved by Google itself, they usually come at the very top of local search results. And since people already trust Google, people also readily trust ads on its platforms. So if you are looking for quick visibility for your business, pay a small token to Google to bring your business to the top of the search result where relevant people can easily see it.
Small business and Microsoft Ads (Bing)
If you are looking to extend your tentacles beyond Google, then you should consider Microsoft Ads too. Although you are not likely to generate as much traffic or leads from Microsoft ads as you would with Google Ads, you can be sure any leads you get from Bing have a higher probability of translating into a customer. With Bing, you will be able to bring your business right to users of Microsoft, MSN, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
This form of advertising also helps you target people who are likely not using Google. There is less competition on Bing than Google, which can be a great advantage for you because you will be paying a lower amount for the ads than you would with Google. That means with just a very little token; you can promote your business across all platforms owned by Bing.
Reviews Matter; Don't Ignore Them
Don’t be tempted to want to accept that reviews don’t matter; they actually do. Online reviews show how trustworthy your business is and so help contribute greatly to your digital footprint. Suppose you have a high star rating on popular review sites like Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp. In that case, that will help provide the social proof your business needs to break into new territory and attract new customers. Encourage your customers to find you on these platforms and give you reviews there. Do that often to have a fresh inflow of reviews on your listings every time.
Most consumers would not buy a product from a local company until they have read reviews online about the product. About 34% of consumers judge a local business by the type of reviews they could find about the business online. That is to show you that reviews still matter when it comes to building a significant digital footprint and driving conversion.
However, you will also need to keep an eye on every review dropped on your listings. Respond to every review – whether positive or negative. Don’t lose your head whenever you receive a negative review. Instead, think of a way to turn the review to be to your favor. Some negative reviews can actually be positive sometimes.
4 Effective Strategies to Skyrocket Your Local Rankings & Dominate Your Industry’s Most Important Keywords
Build organic and local listings
This involves helping your business rank for organic searches using your website, blog, and local directories. Organic rankings are usually long-lasting compared to paid advertisements. However, it is not something that happens so quickly. It can take months or even years to achieve. But once achieved, you will know that it is definitely worth the effort and waiting.
You will have to bring your website to be a friend with search engine algorithms to be able to win a substantial spot on the search results. To make this happen, there are many things you will need to put in place, including optimizing your website load speed, making it user-friendly, making it easy for search engines to crawl, providing structured data, and prioritizing quality content.
Leverage Google Ads
We have said many things about the importance of Google ads in this guide already. But let’s talk about how you can use it to promote the accessibility of your business online. Carefully design a winning ad by paying attention to some features on the ad’s page.
But before you even start with that, you need to remind yourself what goal you are trying to achieve with the ad. Is it to attract more customers, build brand awareness, make more sales, or generate traffic to your website? Once you know what your primary goal is, then you can set up your ads more appropriately.
- Diversify your budget
- Advertise across multiple channels for a better reach
- Choose the demographic that will best favor your business
With this, you will be able to set up an effective ad that will help give your online visibility the extra boost it needs to achieve its goals. However, pay attention to such factors as ad budget, keyword use, ad extension, landing page quality, and ad copy. All these can affect the ranking of your ad.
Enjoy the goodies offered by Local Services Ads
This is another effective strategy that can help you build more credibility online and increase how readily customers are able to access you. However, not everyone can use local service ads. So before you create a profile, you will need to first check to be sure your type of industry is allowed to set up a local service ad. How do you search? Go to Google, search for your services and location, and see if any ads appear at the top of the page with the green “Google Guaranteed” badge.
If you are allowed to enjoy the service, go ahead and create a profile and complete your information there. This will include inputting your business name, address, and phone number. Then set a budget limit and wait to start getting qualified leads from Google. However, make sure to maintain relevance, proximity, responsiveness to reviews, and high ratings to get the most from Google Local Service.
Increase visibility with Local Map Pack
The local map pack is a section on the local search result where information about your business is being displayed alongside a little map to show the location of your business on the map. This usually is an effective tool that helps drive organic leads to your business.
So what are the factors that help you rank on Google’s Local Map Pack? They include trust signals from your GMB page, reviews, citations, links to your website, and social media. These are what come together t determine your place on Google’s local map pack.