Just when you think you have SEO marketing down pat, along comes Google to mix things up again. Of course, if you expect that Google (or any of the other search engines out there) will ever stop evolving, you’ve got another thing coming. Tweaks, adjustments, and the introduction of entirely new algorithms and UIs will always be part and parcel of living in an online environment that’s constantly in flux.
Changes to Google Maps
Back in May, Google announced a revamped user interface for one of its most frequently accessed features, Google Maps. End users were thrilled, but business owners – in particular those who rely on their accurate placement on Google Maps to help local customers find where they are – weren’t so tickled. Before we get into that, though, let’s run down a quick list of some of the changes Google Maps has seen.
- A more “social” approach to the traditional map experience, with personalized search results based on location and interests.
- An updated “search” box that remembers the user’s recent searches and not only incorporates driving routes, but also transit and bicycling routes, as well as traffic.
- New info cards that pop up when a user selects a location, giving information about the establishment and ratings from people who have been there before.
- Updated “street view,” photo tours, and 3D tilt.
Drilling Down the Problem
The new UI for Google Maps looks great, and may even sound fabulous. However, other changes that have taken place on Google Maps may negatively impact small businesses. For example, prior to the revamp, there used to be a small option box that read “More results near… [the user’s location].” In addition, the directory-style listing of other nearby businesses that once appeared in a column on the left-hand side of the screen has gone away. Now that these features have been dropped, it raises a question about the discoverability of additional businesses the user may not know even exist – and the possibility that some businesses may ultimately not achieve optimum search engine visibility.
The constantly evolving state of Google has made it more imperative than ever for brick and mortar establishments to become proactive in ensuring their business location – including their precise address and phone number – is displayed in the right places in order to be seen and discovered. For those less savvy business owners, this means providing Google with all of the necessary information through Places for Business. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other important steps businesses should take to increase that visibility further. Other suggestions include…
- Actively requesting customers to leave ratings and reviews. The more reviews a business receives, the higher the visibility on Google Maps and the more likely the business is to be recommended to other users.
- Including photos of their establishment with their business listing. The new Google Maps UI’s “photo tours” feature prominently displays user-provided images, which can bring even greater visibility.
- Establish a Google+ Local page for the business.
Not every business owner has the time, experience, or know-how to run an effective social media campaign. If you’re simply too busy running your business to handle the functions of ensuring your business has a viable social media presence on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms, it may be time to consider bringing in outside help. Fortunately, there are many available professionals seeking freelance marketing opportunities. At Artisan Talent, you can review thousands of resumes from independent contractors and established freelance marketing firms who are available for hire. To find out more, contact us today.