If you’ve ever searched for directions online, chances are you’ve used Google Maps. And if you’ve ever used Google to find a place to eat, a specialist shop, or somewhere to stay for the night, you will have used Google Places.
Google Places integrates with Google Maps to show you where to find what you’re looking for on your doorstep. It’s the Internet equivalent of the Yellow Pages, but there are still a lot of businesses who’ve yet to sign up.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of Google Maps for your business.
Key to getting people through the door of your business is letting them know about your business. These days, Google is the go-to place when they’re looking for help.
Get yourself on the front page of Google for relevant keywords, and you’ve landed yourself a potential gold mine of customers.
Google Places is a shortcut to hitting the front page. Even better, customers who find you using Google Places are stronger leads, as they’re likely to be local and looking for what your business has to offer in your area.
Google gives a rankings boost to businesses who are signed up to Google Places by placing a map of relevant results at the top of search. For example, look at this search result for “bicycle shop London”:
The top six bicycle shops with a Google Places page are listed on the first page of search results, together with a handy map which hovers in the side bar as you scroll down search.
Recent research by the online advertising network Chitika found nearly a quarter (24.2%) of Google searches are local. What’s more, over 80% of local searches are done on a mobile device. This means people are searching for businesses when they’re out and about.
As smartphones and tablets becoming increasingly ubiquitous, we can expect the number of local searches to keep rising.
If you’re not on Google Places, you could be missing out on customers who are searching for a business like yours on their phone, just around the corner from your shop.
Having your business listed in Google Places allows customers to leave online reviews of your business. As long as you’re doing business honestly, and offering quality customer service, this is nothing to be afraid of.
In fact, reviews build trust with customers. Some 84% of consumers will only interact with a brand online if they trust that brand. On top of that, 41% of consumers cite online reviews as a key factor in building trust.
The more (positive!) reviews your business gets, the more weight Google gives you in search rankings.
Getting onto Google Places isn’t only about helping customers find your physical location.
A Places listing includes a host of contact information, including your website, phone number, and Google Plus Page. Even if customers who find your business don’t make their way into your store right away, they have a whole host of ways of staying in touch.
With your Google Places listing, you create a Google Plus Page for your business. That means you get to decide what Google says about your business.
As Google continues its roll-out of the Knowledge Graph this will become increasingly important. Google draws much of the data it uses to create Knowledge Graphs from Google Plus Pages. If your business isn’t listed on Google Plus, Google will go looking elsewhere for information on your business (or, worse, not list your business at all).
Signing up to Google Places takes just a few minutes, and it’s free. You can even list multiple locations if you want to. To get started, follow Google’s guidelines here.
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