Google has revolutionized the way consumers search for products and businesses. It’s estimated that 20% of searches are what’s called a “local search.” That means the person searching didn’t just type in a term like chiropractors; they searched “Chiropractors in Austin,” or “Los Angeles chiropractors.” An even more surprising statistic: a full 50% of all mobile searches are location based. These potential customers aren’t just thinking about making a purchase of a product or service; they are in often times in their cars, ready to make an immediate purchase. So how do you turn these location-based searches into business for your company? By making sure you’re optimizing your Google Maps business listing.

Getting Listed

If your company isn’t already appearing on Google Maps, you may not be listed. Signing up is simple:

Step 1: set up a Google+ account (it’s free)

Step 2: list your business with Google

That’s it. You’ll be listed within a few weeks.

Get Ranked

When prospective customers conduct a location-based search, two things are returned: a listing of businesses, and a map that pinpoints the locations of the businesses. The higher your business appears on this list, the better. Take advantage of everything Google offers when you set up your account to improve your ranking.

6 Ways to Improve Your Ranking

1. Add categories: You can add up to ten categories with your company listing. Categories should be descriptive of your company, but also keyword rich.

2. Add photos: You can add up to ten pictures of your business. If you are a restaurant, a boutique or any type of business where ambiance might affect a perspective customer’s decision, pictures are a must. This is true even if you aren’t selling a traditional product. Service-based businesses can also benefit from using pictures. You can include pictures of a cool conference room, images of awards you’ve won or events the company has attended. Anything that helps tell your company’s story.

3. Add video: This can work if you’re a service-based business and you have a quick video explaining what makes your business different. It can also work similar to the photos, as a way to showcase the ambiance of your establishment.

4. Add “details”: When listing your company you can include details. Take advantage of this to answer any questions that a prospect might have. (Do you have parking or validate parking? What are your hours of operation? Do you have free Wi-Fi?) Include anything information that will help customers chose you.

5. Include a Website: If you don’t already have a website for your company, it’s worth putting together a simple one just for this purpose. People do business with people they know. If you they can’t check you out online, they may never check you out in person. Don’t let this one trip you up. You can create a simple plug-and-play website with a simple, free theme and WordPress. Just be certain that on your home page you are including some of the same keywords you used for the Google Maps listing. Also include your address and phone number.

6. Get Reviews: One of the best ways to rank highly in Google Maps is to have lots of (great) reviews. The businesses returned on the top of the search results are usually the companies with the most reviews. Unfortunately reviews can be difficult to get because customers have to be a Google+ user to post a review. One way to combat this is to start by asking for reviews from your family, friends and existing customers. Beyond that, consider offering a perk to those customers who post reviews while they’re at your business. If you’re a restaurant considering offering a free drink or appetizer. If you’re a retail establishment or service-based business, consider offering discount on purchases. Then, be prepared to help them quickly create an account and post the review. You’ll be trading a small amount of profit from one sale in return for, what could be, a steady stream of new business.

Keep Up to Date

Once you’re listed, be sure to check your listing periodically to make sure it’s up to date.