In a never-ending quest to dominate the search engine market, Google has given website operators yet another resource aid in managing online presence: Google Maps. In April 2009, Google Maps surpassed Mapquest as the most-visited map site for the first time, according to Hitwise. This means that if a potential customer is using a map site to find your business, they will be using Google. In addition, local business listings are increasingly popping up on the first page of Google’s SERPs, often as the first result. While some people are leery of this change, it presents an opportunity for you to increase the potency of your site’s SEO.
Google allows you to create custom maps that lead searchers directly to your business; unlike traditional maps, these do not only provide directions, but also enable you to give information about your company, as well as post links that lead to your website. You have a significant amount of control over the information that reaches your potential customers, which is a huge boon to any business. After creating your custom map(s), be sure to claim your business’ listing at the Local Business Centre.
The dashboard feature for Google Local Business Centre, which was established in June of 2009, allows a company owner to claim their business listing with Google. Claiming a listing allows you to access all the search statistics that accompany it, including number of impressions, top search queries, and the zip codes of the users who requested driving directions to your business. All of this information is very valuable to the business owner trying to familiarize himself with the needs of his customers, and best of all, the data is all free, courtesy of Google.
Local maps can be a great advantage for those who use them wisely; if not utilised properly, they may make no difference at all. Be sure to optimise these maps as you would any other part of your website; after all, the maps are an important part of your online presence. Take advantage of the opportunity to increase your company’s brand name value by creating a customised profile name and avatar icon. Filling out your company’s Google Profile Page is essential to optimising your maps; among other things, link to your corporate website from the Profile Page. Link to your maps from other Web pages, including your own. This will ensure that the map is indexed by Google, which is the only way it will be searchable.
Google Maps is a tremendously underutilised aspect of SEO, one that you should take advantage of immediately. Doing so will only improve upon whatever optimisation you have already implemented for your website.