In this article you will learn how to add a business to Google maps. Be sure to read the full article because it isn’t enough to add your business to Google maps, you also want it to appear for the most relevant searches and appear near the top of the listings. We will explain to you how to create your listing, target it at the right searches, and boost it to the top of the list.
Note: Although most people call it “Google Maps” the free service allowing local businesses to create a listing is actually called Google Places. We use both terms somewhat interchangeably.
Step #0: Learn how Google ranks Businesses on the Map
This video shows an example of the criteria that go into determining if your business is shown on Google Maps.
Step #1: Create a Google account if you do not have one.
Go to http://www.google.com/accounts. You will see a link to Create a New Account. Accounts are free and you can use an existing email address or get a new Gmail address to use with your account. This email will not be shown as part of your Google Map listing for your business. It is best to have 1 main Google account for all Google services including YouTube, Adwords, Map and Places.
Step #2: Tell Google Places about your Business
Go to http://www.google.com/places. (Sign into your Google account if you haven’t already). Click the button that says “Add a New Business”. You may also want to watch the video provided by Google. (But keep following the directions in this article to get even better results).
Fill in the basic fields at the top including: Country, Company Name, Street Address, City, State and ZIP. If you have more than 1 location start with your main location and then see the section later in this article on adding multiple locations.
NOTE: You can create listings for more than one address even if your business only operates out of 1 location.
Enter your main phone (that goes along with the main address). You will need to be able to receive a call at this phone number or receive a post card at the mailing address you gave to complete your listing. The phone verification is much faster, so it is ideal to create the listing when you (or someone else) is near that phone. DO NOT enter any additional phones numbers. Why? You can create one Google Maps listing per phone number. Save your alternate phone number to create a second listing to get extra exposure.
Enter your website URL.
For the email address enter the address you want visible to potential customers. This could be the owner’s personal email, another staff member or a catchall box such as info@….. Generally we recommend using an email that looks like it goes to a specific person.
Description and Categories
In the description you only have 200 characters to explain what your business does. We recommend using this to describe what you do using the words that people actually search for. Do not use taglines or catchphrases that do not reflect your customer’s words. (See below for keyword choice tips.)
“Realtor serving Portland OR. All real estate agent services including a free market assessment. Experienced listing agent and buyer agent.”
This description includes 4 keyword phrases: realtor, real estate agent, listing agent and buyer agent. It also includes a bribe to the reader by mentioning the free market assessment.
You may list your business under 5 categories. (If you have additional locations, they can go under different categories allowing you to pick more than 5 in total). Make sure to use all 5 category fields, but DO NOT constrain yourself to the choices in the menu. You can add your own new categories to fit your business and keywords. For example if you are a Pediatric Dentist you might want your five categories to be: Pediatric Dentist, Children’s Dentist, Kids Dentist, Toddler Dentist and Dentist for Kids. Note that only the first one (Pediatric Dentist) is actually one of the menu choices. The other four are not. However, you are much better off listing yourself using the different keywords your prospects might use than leaving categories blank or picking categories that don’t fit your core business.
Step #3: Claim a Listing or Create New
The next screen you see will ask you to claim an existing business that Google has indexed or to create a new one. If you see your business listed where it says “Already on Google Maps” then click the button to claim the listing.
If you don’t see your business click on “Add Listing”
Step #4: Enter the additional details about your business.
Read the tips below for each section to get the most out of your listing:
Service Areas and Location Settings – Click the Yes option even if you do not travel to serve customers at their location. Selecting Yes will allow you to specify the geographic region that you serve and may help you appear in searches for neighboring cities.
Hours of Operation – Fill in your hours.
Payment Options – Fill in the payment methods you accept.
Photos – Do not skip this. We recommend 5 photos although you are allowed to add 10.
Google will stretch or squish your photos to a 2×3 aspect ratio with a landscape layout. (e.g. 2 cm tall and 3 cm wide). To keep your photos from looking distorted, you should crop them to a 2×3 ratio before uploading them. Use Powerpoint or Google’s free Picasa program to crop your images. Ideas for your 5 images:
- Your logo.
- Street view of the outside of your business.
- You (the owner).
- Front desk/reception area
- Photo of your staff.
Before you upload your images take the time to name the files using your keywords. (See below for how to select keywords). For a divorce lawyer’s profile the names of your 5 images might be: BUSINESS-NAME-logo.jpg, divorce-lawyer-in-seattle.jpg, divorce-attorney-in-seattle.jpg, seattle-divorce-lawyer.jpg, seattle-divorce-attorney.jpg. Use hyphens between words. Multiple image formats are accepted. We just used .jpg as an example.
Although the names of the images are not visible to web users, they are part of the code of the web page that is visible to the search engine robots. Search engines do consider the name of the images on your page when deciding how relevant it is to a user’s search so don’t name your picture picture-of-me.jpg!
Videos- Again, do not skip this step.
Businesses on Google Maps that have Videos will outrank those that do not all other things being equal.
The biggest barrier or complaint with video is usually production quality. Most owners do not want to release a video to promote their business unless the video meets the same high standards that they offer to customers and makes a professional first impression. They mistakenly believe they need to hire a videographer or have high-end software on their computer to produce a professional video. Not so.
We recommend the free service from Animoto for a quick professional video. You can also borrow a friend’s FlipCamera and shoot an HD quality video that is already in the right format to upload. This is an example of what you can produce in about 10 minutes.
You will need to upload your Animoto video to YouTube. Luckily Google owns YouTube so you can use the same username and password. If you have never uploaded a video to YouTube just go to YouTube.com and then search for “how to upload a video to youtube” and you’ll find several video tutorials.
Suggestions for your videos:
- Overview of your core services and distinctive features,
- Meet the owner,
- Meet the staff,
- Satisfied customer/testimonials,
- How to contact us/how to get started
You will be able to get multiple uses out of these videos. You can use them for your website and you can use them to backlink into your website.
Additional Details- This is a great place to note any special offers or promotions. The format is [Bold phrase: Regular text phrase] and you can add an unlimited number. These are some suggestions. Pick the ones that pertain to your business and make up your own.
- Free Consultation: Yes
- Parking: Yes
- Same day service: Yes
- 24-hour service: Yes
- Languages spoken: English, Spanish, French
- Insurance accepted: Yes
Click submit to continue.
Step #5: Pick a validation method.
Your business listing on Google Maps will not be live until you validate your listing. You have two choices….phone and postcard. The phone validation is the fastest and easiest. Just be available to answer the phone when Google calls and type in the 5 digit code they give you.
Step #6: Congrats!
Your business listing is now live on Google Maps. Don’t expect it to show up in searches for your keywords right away. Give Google a few days to index your listing. While that is happening, move on to step #7 and get some reviews.
Step #7: Get User Reviews
Once your business listing on Google maps is live you will want to ask former satisfied customers to write a review for you. Listings with more reviews and more stars will outrank businesses without reviews all other things being equal. The reviews will be a permanent part of your listing and will appear under your photos and videos.
Users can write a review directly on your Google listing. Just send the public link to your profile to your past clients and ask for a favorable review. It is OK to ask for 5 stars. Some people who were 100% satisfied will rate you at 4 stars just because they think of 5 stars as perfection and don’t realize the difference that extra star makes on the Internet. Go ahead and ask for a five star rating from the customers you are confident will give you one. It would be a nice touch to offer a coupon or free service to those that do write a review.
Note that Google Places also pulls in reviews from Yelp.com, Citysearch.com and other sites that allow users to write reviews. Most service businesses in major cities will find that they already have a yelp or citysearch profile even if they did not create it.
Step #8 – Add additional locations
You can add additional locations for your business as long as you have additional phone numbers to use in the verification process. Even if you operate out of a single location, having additional locations on Google Maps will be to your advantage. Additional addresses you can use are: your home, a PO box, a mailbox center, a friend’s address, a relative’s address.
There are two reasons to go through the effort of adding additional locations. First, you can get listed in other cities or states to expand the reach of your business. Second, research into how Google Places actually works has shown that if your address is closer to what Google deems as the “downtown” or “central” part of the city your listing will be preferentially shown. For large, competitive cities such as San Francisco, you may find that it takes a huge amount of photos, videos and reviews to overcome the fact that your business is not “dead center” in the city. In this case, getting a PO Box or friends address to use with your listing may make a tremendous difference. Hopefully this unfair bias will go away over time, but it is very real right now. Check this out.
As we mentioned before you will need 1 phone number for each location. A free way to get an additional phone number in a different area code (or your same area code) is by requesting a free Google Voice number. You will probably need to wait a few weeks until you get your invitation to join so put your name on the request list now.
Saving the Best for Last: Keyword Targeting
In this article we have mentioned keyword selection multiple times. To get your website in front of searchers on the Internet you absolutely must understand the words they use when they search. Do you know which words are used most in your niche? If you are a real estate agent, do you know whether more people search for “find a realtor” or “find a real estate agent”. Do more people search for “buy a house” or “buy a home”? In traditional print, TV or radio advertising this difference in words doesn’t matter, but on the internet it does. Although Google is smart enough to know that home and house are related, you will still get different search results. In fact you even get different Google Map results for “Portland realtor” versus “Portland realtors” (singular versus plural).
You will want to know the keywords that your potential customers are using BEFORE you select your listing categories or name your photos (in steps 2 and 4 above). That’s one of the reasons we created the Local Markets Keyword Tool. Go check it out and then come back here to create your listing.
Optional Step #8 – Create backlinks into your website using your keywords.
If you liked this tutorial and found it helpful, please leave a comment below. If you have figured out additional strategies for getting a better Google Maps listing, please share them with our reader. In your comment you may link out to your website using your keywords. Much like user reviews, web pages with lots of comments rank better than sites without comments all other things equal. When you leave a comment it helps both our businesses. You get a link and we get a comment. This is how to create a comment to help your business.
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