Recently some business owners have found that their Google local map listings have disappeared entirely without any warning or explanation. According to the experts at SearchEngineNews, there is an obscure passage in the Places Help Files that explains the problem:
What are my options when defining a service area?
Don’t receive customers at your location? Serve customers at their location? Select the “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” option within your dashboard. If you don’t hide your address, your listing may be removed from Google Maps.
So, if you don’t directly serve customers at your business location, Google may remove your listing from Google Maps unless you hide your address.
It used to be considered a bad idea to hide your address from Google Maps and many thought if you did that your local listings would suffer. This new policy should help level the playing field for small businesses who don’t meet with customers at their business address.
Here are some guidelines to help you determine whether or not your should show your address on your Google maps listing:
- If you serve customers at your location – show your address.
- If you serve some customers at your business and some on the road – use your address and a service area.
- If you don’t serve customers at your business location and are only on the road – then hide your address.
Google recently partnered with the folks at weather.com added weather information to their maps application (http://maps.google.com), making it dead simple to quickly get weather information.
Google uses a new layer to display weather information. Even if you don’t call them that, you are probably familiar with layers – have you played with the satellite or terrain views of Google Maps? Those are layers. If you hold you mouse over the satellite box at the top right corner of the map, you will see a drop down menu like the one below:
Clicking on the Weather item will toggle the weather layer on and off. When it is on, you will see weather icons on your map, as well as some information from nearby cities. Here is my local weather map this morning:
(click the image for a larger view)
You can also click on any of the weather icons on the map do get a mini 5 day forecast for that area:
For a more detailed forecast, click on any of the blue links you see in the pop up window to be taken to the weather.com site.
How could you use this for marketing? Maps with the weather layer cannot be embedded in your website, at least not now. However, you can email a link that, when clicked, will pull up the map with the weather layer enabled. This could be a nice tool to use for your business if the weather effects your customer experience – for example, if you own a bed and breakfast or are an event planner, letting you customers know what to expect from the weather before they pack for their trip can be a nice touch.