We’re in the Internet Age; people look for all of their information online. This makes it very important to create an online presence for your business. This is especially true for tour operators. If you don’t have a website for your tour or activity business(opens in a new tab), you need to find other ways to put yourself online so that tourists can find you.
Google My Business is a great way to do this — it’s easy to use and cost-effective. You can use it to make your business visible online leaving you time to focus more on your offline presence.
What is Google My Business, and what are its benefits?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool available for all businesses. It helps to make your business visible in Google searches and maps. In order to accomplish this, you’ll need to add things like your business names, location, timings, and photos. Once your listing is live you’ll be able to analyze customers to customize your content, solicit reviews, and more.
- Ease of finding your physical location
- Increase in search visibility
- Display useful information (of your choice) on your Google search results page
- Get reviews are easily with your own unique URL
- It’s free!
How do you create your Google My Business profile?
Before you get into profile creation, you need to put yourself on the (Google) map. When you first sign in to GMB you’ll need to enter your physical address. You should choose your office location, but there is an option to select an area instead of a specific storefront. It will ask if you want to be on the map — say yes!
The next step is to verify your business. Your listing will not be visible until you are verified. There are a few ways to verify your business:
Verification through postcard
This is the most common method to verify your business and it is the only option that is available to everyone. GMB can send you a postcard with a verification code to the address you have listed for your business. This is the most common way to become verified. After you receive the postcard enter the verification code on GMB.
Verification through other means
Some of the business listings on GMB are eligible for other types of verification. These tend to be faster, but not everyone can use them. If any of these options are available to you, you will see them listed.
- phone verification
- email verification
- instant verification (this option should be available if you are verified for Google Search Console)
Bulk verification is different than the options listed above. Use bulk verification if you operate a single business in more than ten places. Note that agencies and service businesses are not able to use bulk verification.
For bulk verification follow the steps below:
Step 1: Log in > choose a location > click get verified > click chain
Step 2: Fill the verification form with your business name. Fill in all the contact details and other business details
Step 3: Click submit. It can take up to a week for bulk verification to be processed
Before you do anything else, add the details people need to know. Your address should be there from the verification process, but be sure to add your phone number, website, working hours, etc. Adding more details will lead to better search results.
To make your listing pop, add as much information as you can. Start with a small description of your business. Keep it simple and include relevant keywords for your type of business such as your location and tour types. “Kayaking tours of the Mississippi” is better than “tour operator.”
Photos and videos are also very effective in highlighting your business. Add high-quality photos and videos that show your tours, guides, happy customers and more. You can also add a short trailer video of your business to create engagement and excitement about your tour company.
Improve your ranking
Now that everything is set up, you need to consider your ranking. Good rankings translate to good customers. There are two main factors to consider here.
First is how well your tour business matches the people seeing your listing. If you have a tour business in Washington offering kayaking tours and all you write about is how you thought of your kayaking tour business while you were a child in Los Angeles, and how your Los Angeles schoolmates impacted your decision etc, this will affect your potential sales. In short, you’re going to appear in the results for people searching for Los Angeles, not Washington or kayaking! Be sure that you use smart keywords that match what your business actually is.
The second thing to consider for a good ranking is the user’s interaction with your business profile. People watching your videos, looking at your photos, and reading your posts shows Google that they should keep showing your listing to people.
Solicit customer reviews
Customer reviews are so important(opens in a new tab). People always look for recommendations and good reviews before booking tours — before even visiting a place. No one knows this more than tour guides. Good reviews improve your ranking on GMB and in turn bring in more customers. Be sure that those new customers leave reviews too! An incentive such as a freebie or discount could motivate them.
What about negative reviews(opens in a new tab)? You have to consider the fact that not every customer will be happy. Consider replying to negative reviews. Offering to make things right, or even just telling your side of the story (calmly, professionally), shows that you care and can help mend some of the damage done by the negative review.
GMB posts are like small advertisements you can use to get attention. You can add images or video, text, and a call to action (CTA).
There are four types of post for promoting your business:
- Product: Use this to showcase your tours. You can include photos, information, pricing, and a CTA that sends customers to your website for more information or allows them to go straight to booking.
- What’s new: Use this for general information about your tourism company. You can announce new tours, post new blogs, or give any other information. This is a catch-all category and works for nearly every post.
- Event: Use this post to promote events that you are hosting or will be attending. These posts require start and end dates to give viewers a sense of urgency.
- Offer: As with event posts, these need start and end dates. These posts automatically include a “view offer” CTA, but are otherwise personalized. You can add photo/video, links, offer code, and other important information.
All these posts can be seen on the Google search results page with the rest of your listings. Think of them as a way to get engagement and drive traffic to your site. Posting regularly will also improve your search ranking.
Use Google Analytics
To attract more customers, you need to understand your audience and that’s what Google Analytics is for. Google Analytics helps you analyze your audience so that you can identify patterns and create advertising and content strategies.
If you use social media sites(opens in a new tab), Google Analytics analyzes everything for you. It provides traffic data for your website, and can tell you where your users are coming from. You can even use it to measure engagement for a particular post.
We’ve written before about Google My Business and Reserve with Google. Check out the two posts in this series for more about what Reserve with Google is(opens in a new tab) and how to use Reserve with Google to improve your business(opens in a new tab).
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