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Google Maps is a Valuable Tool for Small Businesses in the USVI

St. Thomas — If you’ve read my Google Maps story from June, you’ll know that I’m kind of obsessed with the mobile app. This week’s Tech Tuesday should bring some value to brands and business owners in territory looking for a leg up on competitors or just more exposure. Today I’ll explain why your business should be on Google Maps and how it’s connected to Google Search.

 


Increase Foot Traffic

Adding a brand or business to Google Maps automatically gives your small business access to over 1.17 Billion people who use Google’s search engine to find information about products, restaurants and tourist destinations everyday. When a cruise line visitor arrives on either island, one of the first things they may do is launch a quick Google search to see what’s around them. Adding a business to Google Maps is simple, free and should be a standard part of your long-term strategy if your business has a physical location.

As an example, when I Google Side Walk Grill Express, I get some pretty basic information about the burger joint; including reviews, a phone number and hours of operation. This is great information for a returning customer that already knows the name of the restaurant they are looking for. I did a second Google search, but this time I searched for ‘hotdogs’. Side Walk Grill Express was the first business in my results as a food recommendation for the keyword hotdogs.

Recognizing that visitors interact with Google, Bing and Facebook using specific keywords when looking for businesses is the first step to piggybacking on popular topics or locations on island. State of the Territory doesn’t have a headquarters yet, so unfortunately the little mint falcon won’t be able to benefit from this blog post.

 


Build Brand Presence

Google Maps has surprisingly become the bread and butter for many small and mid-sized businesses around the world. Imagine that your business is a hair salon, a notary public or a printing expo. The chances of a potential first time customer knowing the name of your business is slim.

The chances of someone searching for specific keywords like, ‘hair stylist near me’, ‘notary public’, or ‘business cards in St. Thomas’ are much greater. All of these search examples returned real businesses listed on Google Maps in St. Thomas. Needless to say, your business could be missing out on new customers by opting out of Google’s free service geared to small business owners.

The Maps team prides itself on helping users find restaurants and landmarks based on specific searches. Including an official website for your business can also help with exposure online.  your business with a specific location on Google Maps can positively affect the ranking of your site on Google Search over time.

 


Add Food Vans!

As one of the top tourist destinations in the Caribbean, it always surprises me that the Virgin Islands doesn’t market its local cuisines as part of the experience — chefs and restaurants on St. Croix have begun created dedicated Instagram pages loaded with delicious foods to showcase local cuisines of the Virgin Islands. It’s estimated that over 874,094 tourists visited the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017.

Google doesn’t have any solid rules blocking food vans, or even mobile food vans from being listed on Maps. Food vans are a huge part of Virgin Islands culture, so I’ve made it a habit to add — and update outdated information for — my favorite food vans on Google Maps while waiting for my regular order of nine beef pates.


Food destinations like Side Walk Grill Express and Momma’s Shack in Yacht Haven benefit from specific keywords related to food on St. Thomas. Satisfied customers have left reviews that generally boost overall ranking in search results for other users. So, is your business listed on Google Maps? Learn how to add a brand or business here.

P.S. You can do this right from your Android or iOS device.