Digital marketing for a brick-and-mortar business is usually built around a company website. It’s as advisable today to maintain such a website as it ever was, but in light of the modern diversity of online infrastructure, it is not strictly necessary. Many business get by with digital marketing strategies that instead focus on Facebook pages or other social media accounts, or even just pages in online business directories and review aggregators.

But whichever strategy a given company utilizes, it must place some emphasis on Google My Business as part of its digital marketing. Getting set up with that service is a good idea even if your business operates strictly online, but it is absolutely essential if your company has an in-person location, and would therefore benefit from appearing on Google Maps.

This is not to say that your business won’t appear if you aren’t using Google My Business. Data from prior customers and other sources might lead to the search engine recognizing your company and even showing it to people who are nearby. It may even provide those people with a limited amount of information about your business, but there is no guarantee that that information will be up-to-date or relevant, much less that it will reflect positively on your brand.

The good news is that even if there is a preexisting listing for your business, you can lay claim to it once you start using Google My Business, and confirm via postcard that you do indeed operate from the location in question. Once you’ve done that, you will have opened up a world of digital marketing possibilities to yourself, which stand right alongside and at times even above your reliance on a company website and commercial social media accounts.

Google My Business is in some sense a social media account unto itself. Like a page on Facebook or LinkedIn, it can serve to direct people to your website for additional information, if you have one. But whereas those social media pages tend to rely on either social media advertising or organic connections in order to send traffic your way, Google My Business is more like a midway point between a search results page and a company website.

If your page is well-managed, whether by yourself or a digital marketing partner, it can provide a digested version of the same information that can be found on your website, and it can encourage consumers to immediately associate that information with the physical address that appears on Google Maps. You probably know from experience that when searching for a local business on-the-fly, the information you get from Google Maps is often the first and even the only information you see before making a decision about whether to visit.

You can probably also think of plenty of instances in which you’ve decided against it because the information underneath the Maps results appeared too sparse or even left open the question of whether the business is in operation at all. If your digital marketing strategy doesn’t involve active engagement with Google My Business, you’re in serious danger of providing consumers with that experience, and losing out on potentially valuable foot traffic and web traffic alike.

The ideal digital marketing strategy leaves no stone unturned when searching for ways to catch consumers’ attention and convey information to them. A professional digital marketing company can help you to work your way down the list from the most obvious to the most off-the-beaten track options. But any company with an appropriately strategic outlook to marketing a brick-and-mortar store will understand that the first step is getting set up with Google My Business, possibly even before designing a company website.