by John Eberhard

Google is definitely the place to be found online, with 72.11% of all Internet searches, compared to 14.57% for second place Yahoo. And page one is also the place to be, since 83% of all search engine searchers do not go past page one.

But getting onto page one for Google for your top keywords isn’t always easy. Getting onto page one for the regular or organic listings, via search engine optimization (SEO) and link building, can take 6 months or more. And for a really competitive keyword, you may not get onto page one at all.

You can get onto page one via paid ads with Google AdWords, which is great. But it’s also a continuing expense.

Google Maps is a feature of Google whereby when Google perceives through the nature of your search that you are searching for something local, it will bring up a map on page one. The map will have balloons on it showing the location of different vendors, and there will be listings shown to the right of the map.

So the Google Maps feature is a great way to get your business listing onto the elusive page one of Google. And with the graphic, it pulls your attention right to the map, which is partway down the page.

This new feature is great for local businesses like restaurants, home improvement companies, health care practices, dance studios, attorneys, private schools, or any business that services a local area. When you consider that 66% of Americans use the Internet to find local businesses, and 73% of all Internet activity is related to local content, if you have a local business, you need to get onto Google Maps.

The tendency is to think that if your business is listed somewhere in Google, that you will automatically be put onto Google Maps. Not so. You have to go through a whole process to get your listing up there, and the link will click through to sort of a mini web page for your business on Google, with your contact info, a map, description, pictures, and customer reviews.

Part of the process of getting your business on Google Maps involves “claiming” your listing, then putting up all the information, and uploading photos. It also helps your placement of your listing (how close it is to the top) if you also have listings on Yahoo and MSN, and on other sites such as Yelp and Hotfrog.

Once a searcher clicks on “more info” on the map, they will be taken to your Google Maps page, which includes, as mentioned before, customer reviews. As I covered in an article a few weeks ago, with customer reviews, as Don Henley says “This could be heaven or this could be hell,” depending on what kind of reviews you get. A couple bad reviews can have a way of killing online business, and somehow they have a way of going to the top of the review listings and staying there a long time.

My recommendation for local businesses is:

  1. Get your company listed on Google Maps. We can do this for you if desired.
  2. Put up an autoresponder email system like I described in my article a few weeks ago, whereby you enter the email addresses of happy customers into it, and then the system sends them several emails over the course of a week or two asking them to write an online review for you. The emails also include links to several places where they can write reviews. This allows you to be proactive in getting good reviews that will soon outnumber any bad ones.

Using this system you will get onto page one of Google and hopefully will get you good online reviews that will outnumber the bad ones. I am relatively new on this whole line so I don’t know what the numbers are like, but getting onto page one of Google is always a good thing.

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