St. Thomas — There is one free way to market to potential customers online in the Virgin Islands. Businesses relying on foot traffic from cruise visitors should using Google’s free service to drive traffic to their storefronts. Google Maps is one of the ‘stayers’ of the Google products along with their primary product Google Search.
Over 1 billion people use Google Maps including people living in the United States and tourists traveling internationally. Visitors regularly ask local for directions, usually because the maps in a location might be incomplete. Google Maps in the Virgin Islands is slowly being populated with more local businesses and government agencies.
Visitors traveling to the Caribbean often need to access map information to plan their trips. Google Maps was the first mapping app to launch on the iPhone over 10 year ago and is an increasingly influential tool that brands relying on tourism should prioritize.
Here is how can add your business or organization (church, non-profit, government agency) to the Google Maps listing in 5 easy steps:
If you have not done so already, you’ll need a Google account (you can sign up here) to begin. From there, you need to visit google.com/business or map.google.com where you can sign up to for the first time, or sign in to your primary Google account.
1. Navigate to Google.com/business or Maps.google.com
First you’ll need to enter your business address. In some cases, Google (or an ordinary Google user) may have already created a listing for you. If your name does appear, check the contact details and follow the prompts to ensure that everything is correct.
2. Select or Add your Business
If you do not see your business on the search bar, select “Add your Business” and provide the necessary information. As you add information, hours and photos, remember that the more information you provide allows Google to verify your listing faster.
That means a listing with a working phone number, set hours, and a photo of the hours can get you listed in less than 5 minutes. Once you have verified that the information you provided about your business or organization, continue with the form.
If you are trying to add a business in Google Maps, you can do that by navigating to the location on the map you’d like to update, dropping a pin and clicking “add a missing place.”
Near the end of the form, you will be asked to choose a category that best describes your business. In some cases you may encounter this step again if your listing has more than one purpose. This will help identify how Google classifies your business, and to help people searching online find your business and its services.
Google uses keywords and context to guide the their algorithms, choosing the category that best suits your business can ensure that customers don’t show up asking for burger at your ice cream store.
3. Verify Your Business (Optional)
Adding your business to Google is free and easy if your business is pretty straightforward. Verifying your listing is an extra business owners can take to moderate reviews, photos, and location changes from customers.
The process usually waiting 1-2 weeks for a postcard with a verification pin code to arrive. Here at State of the Territory News, we were able to verify our business on Google in about 10 minutes using our official company emails — yes, we skipped the line. 💅🏾
If you have a Google Home unit or and Android phone with Google Assistant, try saying “Hey Google, what are the hours for State of the Territory News?”
You can also ask the same question for other businesses on Google Maps located in St. Croix, St. John or St. Thomas.
4. Confirm Your Business and Get a Google+ Page
Setting up and securing your Google My Business page is the first step in Local Search Optimization (LSO) and is high priority for all new and old businesses hoping to be discovered online. If you’ve been thinking about using Google Plus for your business, Google is shuddering the social network for consumers but may keep a version for businesses to use.
Makiel and Amaziah contributed to this article, Makiel is a marketing specialist from St. Croix.