These days we’re constantly trying to keep on top of the search engines. That is because ranking on them gets your business seen online, and no one is going to buy from you if they don’t know you exist.
For local travel companies or tour operators with a physical and client-facing presence, a Google My Business listing could be just the tool to help you get that first page ranking for your area. It also helps you manage how your details are seen across Google products such as Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+.
In this post, we’ll run through some tips to help you do this.
Google My Business Listing For Travel Companies Explained
Let us start by exploring what a Google My Business (GMB) listing is.
When you search Google for a term, results will typically display like this:
There will be a number of paid ad listings at the very top.
After that is Google’s local “3-pack”.
And finally, the organic search results.
We are interested in the 3-pack. It’s the GMB section and shows the top three locally based businesses ranking for the search term. Click on the box, and you’ll be directed to Google maps where a list on the left-hand side displays all the businesses with a ranking GMB listing in the area.
Interesting to note here is how Google ranks these listings. The algorithm takes into account a profile’s relevance, distance, and prominence in relation to the person performing the search, and will determine the order accordingly from that. Also, it should be noted that it’s not possible to pay Google to secure a ranking within the 3-pack section.
What all of this means is, with a complete and detailed GMB profile, it’s possible for local travel companies to appear in search results alongside the major OTA’s who typically dominate the paid and organic rankings.
Who Can Rank In The 3-Pack
Bearing in mind the above, you do have to be a local, customer-facing business in order to qualify for a Google My Business listing.
For example, you will only qualify to rank for the search term cooking class Florence in local results if your cooking business is physically situated there.
However, that doesn’t mean that the results are only displayed to people in Florence googling the term. Results will also be shown to anyone in the world who searches it, the algorithm simply takes different factors into consideration as distance is not relevant.
So even if your target market is primarily international, it still pays to set up your profile. This is because results will be seen by travelers in the research phase who would usually only see Viator or TripAdvisor options from paid advertising or organic search.
Benefits of Having a GMB Profile
Firstly, it’s completely free to do.
It can also potentially give your travel company increased visibility on search engines and help people to find you.
Plus you can work on your brand image by building a review profile, as well as use insights and analytics to get to know your market better.
Setting Up and Optimizing Your Profile
When you sign up for your Google My Business listing, you will need to input some information to get started. This includes details such as your business name, physical address, website, social media, working hours, business description, photos, video, peer reviews, payment methods accepted, etc. All of it is to help internet users and Google to get to know your travel company better.
Next, you will need to add a business category and description. It’s important to get this part right so that Google knows exactly how to help travelers find you in search. Be sure to avoid cramming this description with keywords though, as it can negatively affect your rankings.
After that, it’s onto your phone contact details and website URL.
Once all of that information is in, you will need to verify your business.
Verifying Your Listing
Verification by Google is often done by mailing you a postcard. Upon receipt from your postal service, you’ll find a unique authentification code on it to enter online and verify the listing.
Now that you have verified your profile and are online, it’s wise to comb over the information you have previously input and make sure it’s all correct.
Add Images and Even Video
In addition to a business description, you can also add images and video to your profile. In fact, it’s recommended that you do as listings with photos see much higher levels of engagement; as much as 35% more website click-throughs and 42% more driving direction requests to their location.
Add in images of your office location, some of your staff, happy clients taking part in your cooking class, etc. You can even add in a short video of your chef doing a demonstration.
You can also create temporary posts to share content on your profile. They have become popular for sharing events information, running promotions, pushing articles or videos, etc related to your business.
They show a little more prominently at the bottom of your profile, and you can use a CTA to encourage an action.
It’s Important To Get Customer Reviews
Reviews help to build trust online, as well as to raise your ranking on the 3-pack.
With this in mind, encourage your clients to leave reviews on your Google My Business Listing, and of course, respond to their posts when they do. This lets them know you value their time, and hopefully, encourages others to do the same.
In turn, Google will raise your rankings as it identifies your business as one that adds value.
Use Insights To See How It’s All Working
Of course, it’s not enough to get results, they must be measured. For your listing, this can be done by accessing the built-in analytics tool, Insights.
Insights lets you know how people are finding you, whether they’re clicking through to your website, phone calls received, driving directions requested, top performing photos, etc.
By knowing what’s working and what’s not, you can optimize your profile even further.
Once your Google My Business listing is up, remember to constantly monitor the information on it. Part of promoting a relevant community within Google means that the greater internet can add their own photos and reviews to your profile. They can also suggest edits to it!
In this case, keeping a tab on how your business is shown online is often worth the time you spend managing it.