Online maps, we use them everyday for purposes as varied as finding out how to meet our friends at a new restaurant to sending out invitations to our child’s birthday party.
Most companies that depend on local customers are beginning to recognize that including their full physical address as well as a map on their web site is a must. But often, if a map gets included at all, it is slapped on a web page without much thought. With just a bit of effort, you can include maps that are truly useful to your site visitors and that will help draw them to your business.
Here are five simple things you can do to fully leverage the power of maps on your web site.
1.Make your map useful. Recently while planning a trip I tried to find a hotel near the city’s convention center. I went to several hotel web sites and immediately looked for a map on their site so I could see how far a walk I would have to the convention center. Only one hotel site I visited offered a map that actually gauged the distance for me. The same hotel site offered estimated walking times and distances to a variety of landmarks in the area. Excellent! The other hotels’ maps showed the location of their hotel, but the image of the map was static (non-zoomable) and showed zoomed-in view that only showed two or three streets around the hotel itself. All the hotels I researched had been equal in my mind up until that point. Providing a helpful map on their site pulled that one hotel ahead of the pack and favorably influenced my buying decision.
2. Include GPS Coordinates. As good as Google Maps and the other mapping programs are, there are errors in the databases. An address might appear on the wrong block or some other glitch may make it impossible to find the location you’re seeking. Most smart phones now come equipped with GPS location software making it a cinch for those customers to find you with those coordinates, when other information may be incorrect.
A related idea: If you have a parent or friend who is touring the country in an RV, direct them to Google Earth. Many RVers try to avoid mountain passes with tight switchbacks because it makes driving more difficult and dangerous. Google Earth can show the traveler where twists in the roads are so they can chose a better route.
3. Provide directions from a variety of starting locations. Not everyone drives to your business from the main interstate or the airport. One bed and breakfast owner in a remote area included very detailed directions on his web site from a number of locations. The addition of photos depicting landmarks along the way helped travelers find their B&B regardless of where they were coming from. The site owner also placed his phone number on the directions page so travelers could call from the road using the printed directions if they got lost
4.Orient your location. Frequently, you’ll find that business web sites neglect to reference the landmarks they are near. If your business is in a small town which few people have heard of, mention a larger, nearby town as well. This will not only improve your chances for increased search engine traffic, but will also help customers find you in person. Searchers are more likely to use the larger town with a generic description of your services (New York dentist) than they are to use the name of a small town (Hastings dentist).
5. Include business hours and contact information on the map page. It only makes sense to have all the information a site visitor needs to contact you on one page. That includes your business hours, physical address, phone number and a variety of maps on a single page. You have to make it easy for visitors to find you if you want to ensure their business.
Remember that new customers are just that: new. They may not know your neighborhood or your city very well, if at all. Take a fresh look at your site through the eyes of someone who hasn’t been there before. See if a person who is unfamiliar with your area or your town can find you using the map and directions currently on your site. If they can’t, it’s definitely time for a change!
How To Setup Maps on Your WordPress Blog
We use a WordPress plugin called MapPress to display maps on our sites. Map Press is available free of charge at WordPress.org. Download MapPress