Search for a local service in Google and you'll see that 'natural' website listings are now much lower down, below both paid adverts and (more recently) the Google Maps listings. This means your Google Maps listing (or lack of it) is now paramount to whether users can find your business locally.
So if someone searches "web design Cheltenham", "butchers in Leeds" or "recruitment Bristol", Google is going to show map listings above the normal results. In fact, even if you don't include the name of a location, Google try to use your location to show the most relevant results. Try searching just "restaurant" and you'll probably see restaurants in your area, and the Google Maps listing.
In short, it's essential for your business to be listed on Google Maps, and even if you're already listed, there are a number of steps you can take to be more prominent.
5 ways to improve your map listing
1. Get on Google Maps (or take control of an existing listing). Go to www.google.co.uk/business (you'll need to sign in, or register if you're not already using Google services) and add a new business, or claim your listing. You will need to verify your listing by phone or post.
2. Add or verify your business information. Make sure your contact details and map position are correct in your listing, and add things like opening hours and business description.
3. Add more categories. More categories means more listings on Google and a better understanding of your business, so add multiple categories that are relevant to your business.
4. Add photos. People really like photos, and they are far more likely to browse your photos than take almost any other action on your listing. It's also a chance to include pictures of your products, team or premises.
5. Get reviews. This is probably the most important aspect. Reviews not only reassure potential customers but also help you to appear more highly than your competitors in the map listings. Get enough reviews and Google will give you a highlighted star rating like the example above, and generally put you at the top of map listings.
At Bluelinemedia, we can carry out this process for you, and also get you listed on other local services like Thomson Local, and ensure your business information is consistent.