Much of the information that internet users search for has a geographic dimension. Whether searching on their desktop or phone, Google Maps points people to the local services in their area, such as banks and shops, or display the location and reviews of restaurants and hotels. Hundreds of Ghanaian businesses and website owners are already making the most out of Google Maps since the product launched locally in February last year. If you’re not already using the free offerings in Maps to improve your business web presence quickly, cheaply and easily, here are a few tips to make you and your business more Maps-savvy.
1.Claim your Google Places listing: any business with a physical location can be listed for free on Google Maps via Google Places. You can include phone numbers, opening hours, a photo, etc. To do this most effectively:
- Sign in with your Google Account, or create a new Google Account if you don’t have one already.
- Make sure your listing is complete and accurate.
- Make sure that the location of your business on the map is correct so users can find you.
- Remember, you can always drag the map marker to the exact location of your business.
- Don’t forget to have a look at the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide to learn how to help Google crawl and index your site.
- See the Google Places to learn more.
- Choose the most appropriate, specific categories for your business.
- Don’t be afraid to choose specific categories instead of broad ones. The important thing is that the categories are accurate and describe your business well. Google’s search algorithm makes sure that users looking for “Book Stores” will see businesses in more specific categories like “Used Book Stores,” “Comic Book Stores,” and “Rare Book Stores” too.
- Make sure that information about your business on the web is accurate, and try to correct it if it’s not. Google improves search results using information about your business from all over the web.
- Encourage customers to review your business or to blog about it. Google uses these to improve search results too.
- For a few more more tips, see the online tips page.
2. Use the Google Places dashboard: a free tool that will provide you with information on how Google users are interacting with your local listing in Google Maps and Google Search. You can also take a look at the YouTube explanation video.
3. Embed the Google Maps API into your site: it’s better than a static map and easier for people to find you. It’s quick and requires no technical knowledge, but your users get all the benefit of a fully interactive map so they can come and visit. It also lets you add relevant content that is useful to your visitors and customise the look and feel of the map to fit with the style of your site.
4. Driving Directions: One of the key things people want to know in order to visit your business premises is how to get there from wherever they live. Save time creating directions and embed the Driving Directions gadget. It prompts users to enter their own address and automatically creates detailed directions to your location.
5. Google Maps for Mobile. This is a free downloadable application, designed for users on the go. It includes My Location, which helps you find where you are on the map even if your phone doesn’t have a GPS. With Google Maps for Mobile, you can find businesses and services in your area, and dial them directly from your phone.
Credit: Estelle Akofio-Sowah, Google Country Director