The consumer’s journey can cross hundreds of touchpoints between their initial search and their purchase, according to Google. And increasingly that consumer journey occurs on Google Maps, which continues to grow as a powerhouse for paid media and local organic search.
With 154.4 million users, Google Maps easily dwarfs its next biggest competitor, Waze, which counts 25.6 million users. On Google Maps, someone looking for, say, a craft beer tavern in a heavily populated city might use their mobile device to do a near-me search for several choices in just a few city blocks. From there, the user might read a handful of customer reviews for each, browse menu selections, look at photos, and see which one is offering any special deals – all before finding their exact locations and hours. This brief journey alone, which could take just a few minutes, could expose a consumer to dozens of touchpoints – which raises a question: if you’re a business that wants to be found, how do you manage your presence well on Google Maps? The answer is to capitalize on tools that continue to emerge on Google Maps to help businesses attract customers. For example:
1 Being Found
As I blogged recently, Google continues to release features that create opportunities for businesses to be found when people are looking for things to do, places to visit, and things to buy. For example, as I noted, Google has launched a new feature that allows users to view the most recent photos uploaded for a location. If a user is using Google Maps to see what a nightclub or hotel actually looks like, the user can view the business’s most recently uploaded images. In addition, Google Maps now displays more thumbnail images of a given location when a user is scrolling through visual content. These changes underscore why it’s important for businesses to treat visual content as a searchable asset. As Google points out, adding photos is one of the key ways that businesses can improve their findability on Google platforms and apps such as Google Maps.
Here’s what you should do: review the basics for being found, which, fortunately, Google has outlined on its Google My Business Help page. Treat Google’s advice for improving your local ranking on Google as a diagnostic checklist of the essential steps you need to take. For example:
- Enter complete and accurate location data.
- Verify your location.
- Keep your hours accurate.
- Manage and respond to reviews.
- Add those photos.
Take care to review this information occasionally throughout the year to make sure it’s up to date. Update your photos after remodeling. Change your business hours during the holiday season if you keep special holiday hours – and then change them back after the dust settles. Don’t treat findable data and information as a one-shot responsibility. Manage data and information as a precious asset.
2 Amplifying Your Brand
Recently a Bloomberg article speculated on the many ways Google might monetize Google Maps with more sophisticated and frequent advertising, such as more personalized ads that appear in Google Maps search results. If you are a client of ours, you already know that there are already many ways to advertise on Google Maps, such as with local search ads. Examples include:
- Promoted pins, which include attractive branding alongside your pin, such as your company logo, as shown here:
- Including product discounts and offers on your location page, which is especially useful in highly competitive geographic locations (such as with our craft beer example in a densely populated urban area where consumers have many choices within a few blocks). The right offer at the right time can convert someone’s wayfinding on Google Maps into revenue for you.
Here’s what you should do: develop an integrated strategy that complements your organic search with advertising. Accurate, findable content should form the foundation. It doesn’t matter how effective your ads are: if your basic location data is not accurate and your customer reviews are missing, customers will choose someone else over you.
Many factors influence a business’s advertising strategy on Google Maps, including seasonality, events, and the launch of new services or products. To maximize the value of Google Maps as an organic and paid branding powerhouse, contact Investis Digital. We work with clients all the time to connect with audiences across the digital world with paid media and organic search as part of our broader portfolio of marketing and communications services.