Google may well be trying to dominate every aspect of the World Wide Web – and people aren’t panicking because they’re busy using Gmail, Google (the search engine) and of course, Google Maps.
Google Maps has been around for so long that it has become synonymous with searching for places on the Internet. Those red balloons on beige backgrounds are now equal to “bingos” when someone is trying to find a store, park, beach or even a house in a suburb.
But how is Google Maps affecting local businesses, specifically service-oriented businesses?
# 1: Crowdsourced Recommendations
Back in the day, businesses thrived on “word of mouth” advertising (they still do!) and everyone relied on the recommendations of others. This is probably why Google highlighted curated, crowdsourced recommendations to help people make decisions when looking for service businesses.
Local search for businesses has never been this informative. Now people can see how busy particular businesses are, depending on the time of the day and they can also read recommendations and reviews instantly.
# 2: Instant Appointments
While this feature is still in its test phases, instant appointments are definitely a great way to generate leads straight from the search engine results. Booking an appointment instantly is now available for select businesses. The electronic field and drop down menu for instant bookings can be found right under the top reviews.
If this feature becomes a regular part of the Google search experience, people will see your business name, its “0-5” star general average, your address, Google Map location, top reviews from past customers and finally, the instant booking feature. Sounds promising!
# 3: Finer Search Results
One of the biggest problems of some businesses is that people are unable to pinpoint them directly on Google Maps, which makes the search process more tedious. Google is currently trying to resolve this issue by assigning Plus Codes to people who reside in “hard to find” areas around the world.
Head over to http://plus.codes/ right now if you want to participate in this project. Google hopes that eventually, Plus Codes will eliminate the small “blind spots” in Google Maps, which will be extremely beneficial to small and large business owners alike.
# 4: Local Information Rules
While international queries and searches are exciting, local service businesses rely on local searches to generate leads (and of course, profit) on a daily basis. Several years ago, people would have laughed if you told them that a map application on the Web would have an adverse effect on profit.
If you’re one of the ‘doubters’, take a look at the current stats: 50% of people who have found businesses through local search actually visited and transacted within 24 hours of the search.
A staggering 60% of customers on the other hand, made full use of local information in advertisements to locate and visit businesses.
And finally, a mind-boggling 88% of surveyed online consumers state that they rely and trust online reviews from people they don’t know as much as recommendations from colleagues, friends and family.