Google My Maps isn’t new. The ability to create your own maps within the Google system has existed since 2007. For eight years users have been able to create their own maps, with exquisite detail I might add. In this post, I will discuss how you, a business owner can leverage My Maps to increase your businesses visibility within a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Get Familiar With The Platform
Google has at any point in time 6 billion apps that are available for use. That may be an exaggeration of sorts, but you need to look no further than the Wikipedia page about Google apps to know how vast the offerings are, or in some cases were. Each of these varying apps operates, sometimes, very different from one another. Google My Maps is no different. It’s a bit like Map Maker, a bit like Photoshop (with some keyboard shortcuts), and very much an amalgamation of all sorts of UI from different programs. The first step you need to take in this form of self-promotion is to familiarize yourself with how it works. I would need a whole separate post in order to explain it all, so I will instead provide a link to the Google help pages for My Maps. The basics are pretty basic, though, so don’t be afraid you are taking on something impossible. You can be up and running comfortably within 30 minutes. Please note you will need to have a Google account in order to use the free service.
Determine Your Strategy
Like with any promotion of your business you will want to determine the goals of the “campaign” before hand. Why are you wanting to create a custom map? What are you offering or giving to your customer base that has value, and will make them want to click for more? How can you measure the success of this strategy? What does success even mean in this regard? Answering those questions, and determining your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) will allow you to know when something is working, and when it isn’t. The caveat here is that you have good analytics in place, know how to segment your campaigns, and know how to track said KPI’s. If you don’t have any of that in place and don’t know what I am talking about, contact an SEO in your area, and allow them to help you. Analytics are hugely important in determining the steps you should be taking to ensure success.
Ok…What About Custom Google My Maps?
There are really a lot of uses custom maps could have. I will discuss two. One here and now, and another method in a post after the holiday. The one that really stands out to me is making sure your business stands out on the map that you will use to embed on your website. Again, this is assuming you already understand the importance of claiming and optimizing your business’ Google My Business data. (If I just lost you, please check out the Get Your Business Online “movement” sponsored by Google. It will walk you through the process easy peasy).
Once you have a business verified, and optimized, you can move on to the next step: the custom embedded map. Instead of just using the plain old embedded map you could retrieve from GoogleMaps, why not spruce it up? Go into My Maps, find your business (this is why it’s important to have verified information), drop a pin on it, and get to work. Add a title and a description that really draws the customer in. This allows you to showcase your business on that embedded map in a way that you simply can’t do with a standard map embed. If you are a service area business (SAB), draw a polygon showing the area in which you serve in your region. Zoom in, zoom out, customize it to make sense for your business. If you have a multi-location business, have a map that shows all of your locations (please, for the sake of your end user, do not forget to label the locations and the layer within the map. Nothing worse than seeing just a list of addresses in an untitled layer). Make unique descriptions for each location that connect local users to your business in their area. The possibilities are really endless. Please note: I suggest having that “standard map embed” somewhere on your site. It just works well to tie everything together, Google gives tying things together a big thumbs up.
How Does This Help Me Rank Though?
Recently, in a discussion that took place in Linda Buquet’s amazing Local Search Forum, Brian Jensen let everyone know about his seeing MyMaps show up in searches that had local intent. I believe the keywords used were “best breweries in San Diego.” After having dropped the discovery on the community, other members stepped forward to discuss the practice and the success they had seen with it. As more and more local companies vie for real estate on the ever important Google results page, this presents a great opportunity for a local business to both connect with a community and stand out amongst the crowd.
I want to say, however, if you aren’t totally aware of Google best practices, and how any of this could or would work, you are likely better off calling a professional and getting assistance. In the meantime, though, you should go play with the maps, and see what ideas you can come up with.