So your studio is listed on Google Maps. Awesome! But is it actually showing up when people search for music lessons?

(If you haven’t set up your Google Maps listing, check out this post.)

Check Studio Listing Visibility

Let’s start by doing a few searches to check your Google Maps visibility. Go to google.com/maps and search for:

  • “piano lessons Washington DC” (or whatever your instrument and city are)
  • “piano teacher Washington DC”
  • generic “music lessons” and “music teacher” in your city

How Does Your Listing Compare?

Does your studio come up in the search results? Does it appear as a big dot with a name or as one of the little, easy-to-ignore dots?

(Big dots and little dots. The 21st-century pecking order…)

If your studio is a little dot, doesn’t appear at all, or you have to zoom WAY IN to see it, it’s time to work on beefing up your listing. Here are the first six things I recommend to improve a listing:

How to Improve Google Maps Listing

1. Use a descriptive name

It’s fine to have a fun name for your studio (I’m all about creative branding!), but consider the search terms people will use to find your studio. If you have a name like “Allegro Academy” you might want to make your listing say “Allegro Academy violin lessons” to be more descriptive and search-friendly.

2. Get reviews

Google uses reviews to determine if you’re an credible business and potential students use them to determine if you’re a good teacher. I know I’m not the first person to tell you to get reviews. If you’ve been avoiding it, go ask for them NOW!

3. Include a link to your studio website

Whether I’m searching for sushi or mechanics, my evaluation process is the same every time: I read the reviews then click through to the websites for more information. If a website isn’t listed, I often just forget about that listing while I’m reviewing the sites of the others.

If you don’t have a studio website, you can use a studio Facebook page as a temporary solution and get a website as soon as possible.

4. Add pictures optimized for your Google Maps

Take a look at these two listings:

The one on the left is a Google Maps listing on mobile and the one on the right is a listing on desktop.

These images do nothing to give a great first impression of the music studios they represent and I’m sure the student whose car license plate is displayed front and center for all the world to see will be thrilled if they discover it. (It wasn’t even blurred out in the original image!)

Now consider these listings:

This looks is obviously a place I can get guitar lessons. And the wall of guitars looks cool. I am intrigued.

From a marketing perspective, I like that the picture looks great on both mobile and desktop. They made a good choice for the feature photo.

You can choose a picture of yourself, your studio, smiling students, or your instrument as a feature photo. It doesn’t matter, as long as it is relevant and looks good on mobile and desktop.

You can also add other photos to paint a picture of what a student will experience in your studio. Maybe your dog makes appearances at lessons, so you have a picture of him curled up by the piano. Or maybe you’re a Suzuki teacher so you have a picture of a stack of Suzuki books. Show some personality!

Best Practices for Photos

According to Google’s support documentation, your photos will look best if they meet the following standards:

  • Format: JPG or PNG
  • Size: Between 10KB and 5MB
  • Minimum resolution: 720px tall, 720px wide
  • Quality: The photo should be in focus and well lit, and have no photoshop alterations or excessive use of filters. The image should represent reality.

5. List business hours

Google recommends showing business hours to improve listing visibility. This is weird for teachers, when most of our “business hours” are by appointment, but if setting “official” business hours pleases the Google gods and it takes 30 seconds of my time to set up, so be it.

There are a few approaches to this. You can list the hours you currently teach, all the hours you are available to teach, or all the hours you are willing to take a teaching-related phone call. It’s your choice, but do set some hours.

6. Check out other listings

Take a look at the other listings and see if there is anything they have that your listing doesn’t have.

All sorts of things go into Google’s algorithm for displaying these results, so there might not be any visible difference between. It could be that you are competing against a more established music school that is searched for more often by name, so Google presumes it is a more helpful result.

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