If a customer needed your product or service would they know how to find you? Or would they find your competition?
The Yellow Pages have been the gold standard for finding businesses - now it's Google Maps. The Internet is changing the marketing game. More and more, consumers rely on Google Maps to find the restaurant, the dry cleaner, or the store where they are going to spend money. That is why your business needs to be listed on Google Maps.
Are you listed now?
Go to Google Maps and enter in your business type and city.
Your competition shows up but you don't.
Here's how to fix that!
Go to Google Maps:
Google's Local Business Center can help you add your business to Google Maps. Once you load the Local Business Center page, you will find listing your business a quick and easy process.
Google Maps: The first form field is where you sign up.
- First you enter your business contact and location information including: name, address, city, state/province, country and zip code.
- When you have entered this, hit continue and then type your phone, fax and mobile phone numbers as well as any e-mail and Web site address information.
- The next screen prompts you for a description of your business, the types of payment you accept and your business operating hours. You will also select up to five categories that best describes your business.
- When you have entered all the information, select a verification method. For some areas in the U.S., you may want to receive a phone call; otherwise you will receive a postcard in the mail. Verification provides you with a unique personal identification number (PIN) and account activation instructions. After you have activated your account, you can control the address and listing information. The verification process may take several weeks.
Local Business Center: The form for information about your company.
After you have created a listing in Google Maps, each time you edit or create a new listing the information gets added to a central database that shares the business contact information with other Google services. These include: Froogle shopping, Google Earth and Google Web search . All mobile Google products also interface with this database, so you are actually increasing your exposure through many other Google products and services.
Using Google Maps on Your Web Site
Listing in Google Maps is free, and so is using Google Maps on your own Web Site. Google lets you download the Google API, which is what you need to display Google Maps on your own site. Adding Google Maps to your own Web site presents an opportunity to provide an array of information related to your business.
The map is embedded with copyrights, but by editing the API, you can place your own markers and display information specific to your company. Google Maps on your web site enhances common text-based store locators. It provides customers with an easy way to find and print driving directions to your company. It can also increase specific topic areas within your site. Anything that can be mapped, with a location, can be displayed in Google Maps.
Businesses are using Google Maps in some very creative ways. Transportation routes can easily direct customers to your company, along with sites of particular interest within your community. In fact, you can find a Google Map for just about any topic from local bowling alleys to the location of recent crimes. With time and a little thought you can provide interesting and useful information to your customers through the Google Maps API.
For some basic information about how people use Google Maps, there is a popular blog, Google Maps Mania. This blog follows new Google Maps being developed and presented on the web.
To use the Maps API, you need to create a directory on your Web server to host the map (if you're not sure about how to do this, contact your ISP to set up the directory). When that is completed, go to Google and download the API. Before you can download, there's a registration process you need to complete in order to obtain a validation key. To get the key, you need to enter in the exact URL location of the directory you created.
While the Google Maps API is free (so long as you don't charge for someone to use your site), it is important to note that Google does not provide support, so you should be prepared for that. However, since the Google Maps API is so pervasive, you can find lots of online resources to help you. Google provides an extensive FAQ to get you started. If that's not enough, you can get more technical help through a Google Groups discussion forum.
A special marker and information window shows Starbucks retail locations when you search for "coffee in Chicago, IL." The sponsored text links (ads) appear in bottom left corner.
Google Maps Advertising
Now that your company is listed with Google Maps, we'll explore how people can use these tools to find your company and how to use Google Maps on your own Web Site. Google Maps Advertising is not free, but the small cost should justify the expenditure.
If you currently use Google AdWords for promoting your business, you have the ability to buy Google Map ads.
You have a choice of purchasing text ads, or local business ads where the search results will show a special marker on the Google Map display.
If Goggle AdWords through Google Maps sounds like a good way to promote your business, you should review the Google local business ads Web page to get an idea of how Google AdWords can help.
This process may sound complicated but fortunately you can take it a step at a time and still see results. The place to start is to register an account and add your business listing so it can be found in Google Map searches. Next, you can look at using Maps on your own Web site and using Google local business ads to increase awareness of your company.
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