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How to Drive Local Growth and Bookings Using Google My Business

Want to get your tour and activities company on the map? Local search is a complicated ecosystem, but one service stands out: Google My Business.

Google My Business (GMB) is one of many directories in the complicated web of local search options, but it’s one of the biggest, reaching everyone who searches with Google or Google Maps. If you have an office, storefront or other physical location that’s open to the public, taking control of your GMB listing is an important step in building your business locally.

Check out our article on local search for the basics of spreading your NAP, securing citations, and taking your place in the local search ecosystem.

Claim your listing

Because Google strives to be a comprehensive resource, your business may already exist on GMB — even if you’ve never created a listing. Either way, your first step should be to claim your business listing. Don’t rely on generic or inaccurate listings to bring you new guests.

First, sign up with Google My Business for free. Search for your business name and address. If a listing already exists, you can claim it — even if it’s already been claimed by someone else.

Otherwise, you’ll need to enter information about your business. Be sure to make it as complete, accurate and consistent as possible. Google offers guidelines and policies for accurately representing your business that you may want to look over.

Once your business is claimed, start the verification process as soon as possible. Google may send you a PIN by post, so have your staff keep an eye out for the postcard.

Reviews

Most local search directories source reviews from TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other popular review sites. Not so with Google. Because it uses its own rankings, you’ll need to encourage your guests to rate you on yet another site.

To make that a little easier, the local search aficionados at Whitespark put together a handy customizable review handout that can direct and remind your guests to leave a review.

Just a few positive reviews can make your company stand out.

Photos

Because Google Maps users can upload their own photos to your GMB listing, it’s difficult to control how your business is represented. There are two steps you can take to ameliorate the issue, though.

– Upload your own photos. The more high-quality photos you include with your listing, the less weight an assortment of user photos will have.
– Watch for photos that violate Google’s policies. Photos that include spam, harassment or explicit content aren’t allowed on GMB listings. If someone uploads something inappropriate, flag it for removal.

Posts

Earlier this year, Google Posts rolled out to all small businesses on GMB. This is fantastic news for companies who like to keep customers updated on promotions, new inventory, and other exciting opportunities.

Those posts can also link back to your website, online bookings, newsletter signups — whatever you want to highlight. Posts do expire after a week, so they require regular upkeep, but it’s a good way to draw local searchers to your deals.

Maintenance

Accuracy is important for any local search directory, so you should definitely take care to keep your listing up to date. Inaccurate or inconsistent information can negatively impact your Google rankings.

Unfortunately, with GMB you can’t assume that your listing is fine just because you haven’t touched it recently. Anyone can suggest edits to a Google My Business listing. As well-intentioned as that feature may be, it opens businesses up to having their listings targeted by spammers, scammers and competitors.

While Google will inform the owner of a claimed listing of edits that have gone live, there are a lot of ways you might miss that notification. Moz has more details on how to protect your business from fraudulent changes.

Your tour and activities business deserves to be in the spotlight for anyone searching in your area. With a little effort and attention to your local search listings, you can make that happen.

Written by

Nissa Campbell is an author and blogger who covers tourism and technology . Since 2014, she has been documenting booking software at Rezgo and working with tour operators at all levels of the industry to help them find solutions to their technical needs.

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