How to Use Google Places to Get Your Business On The Map
Google offers your local business a very powerful way to get noticed when people look for the kind of services and goods you offer in the local area.
Google Places is absolutely free to use
As the dominant search engine, Google knows how important local search is for their own business. Many thousands of searches for local businesses are made on Google every day. Those searches are commercially motivated; local people looking for local businesses to supply answers to their local needs.
That’s why Google created their Places service and that’s why you need to hop on board.
Google Places is unlike Google’s main cash cow search marketing service, AdWords, because with Places you do not have to pay to advertise.
Of course you can get free advertising simply by being listed in Google search results. But that is serious work because you will likely have to compete with thousands or even millions of other websites. Almost all the business is done on the first page of the results.
You will have to fight hard to be among the first ten places in the Search Results
That requires extensive search engine optimization. But a Google Places listing is relatively straight forward and easily done by most business owners without the need for much technical expertise.
Google Places is completely focused on giving searchers an immediate connection to local businesses that can answer their local search needs. So if you can win a spot in those Places listings, you will not have to beat the ocean of informational and big business pages that turn up in the normal search results.
If you haven’t already done so, you should immediately claim your Places name before someone else does
Google search “bots” crawl the internet non stop and they may already have found evidence of your business on other directories such as Yellow Pages. As a result, Google often creates empty ‘place-holder’ listings based on the local businesses they have found on other credible sites.
You may already have a Places listing that you did not create. So you should spend some time testing variations of your business name and telephone numbers to see if you are already listed on Places.
If you do find a listing, then immediately claim it, as the owner. It will give you a flying start up the listings.
Beware of the Google “Slap”
Google is well known for punishing anyone who “violates” their terms of service. So it is imperative that you read their Places guidelines before you do anything.
Do some basic keyword research to determine the exact phrases that people type into search engines when they are looking for your kind of services and goods. You will need those keyword phrases so you can build them into your Places listing. Use them on your website and on your other directory listings.
Create a simple text file that contains -exactly- how you will describe you business, its name, address and phone number etc. Make sure you use this everywhere you mention or register your business on the internet because Google will see any variations as if they are different businesses and that will damage your reputation in Google’s eyes.
Absolutely do not build Google Places listings more than once with the same information or you will be cutting your own throat. It’s OK to create multiple Places pages, one for each different address if you really do have multiple locations but be careful.
Real addresses are much better than PO Boxes and Google may not accept a generic address
Once all relevant listings have been claimed and consolidated, it helps to have a clear idea of the kind of keywords your business wants to be ranked for.
It’s also important to make sure the keywords you use on your website match, or at least are similar to, those you’re targeting in your Places listing.
It is not open ended but Google does give you the opportunity to provide about 3 dozen items of information.
It’s a really good idea to provide answers to every item
Make use of the Coupon feature too. It is not only useful for generating sales but it also acts as another ad within your Google Places ad.
The more you tell them, the more that Google can tell their search customers. If you have filled in every detail about your opening hours, parking, fax number, payment methods and all the locations you serve, it will be of more value than provided by a competitor who has not bothered to complete their listing.
You should aim to do everything that will improve your chances of a higher Places ranking
Add the maximum number of images and videos allowed. Encourage reviews too because they are becoming increasingly important. But don’t just cram them into Google Places; make sure you are getting reviews on other directories too because Google will find them and respect them.
The history of Google’s spectacular leap over all the existing search engines has a lot to do with the founders’ academic background. They recognized that citations support academic writings and they applied the same thinking to search engines. These days the phenomena is often called “backlinking”. In essence it simply means that Google (and now other search engines too) judge the value of your site by how many other sites refer people to you as an authority in your field.
Google counts the number of incoming links you are getting as votes of confidence that imply you know your stuff about the subject of the click-link that points to you.
In Places, Google even calls those links “citations”.
So the more links your Places (and web) page gets, the higher your rank will be in their search results
And with Places, Google will reward you by the number of listings you have on the web that show the name of your business, its address and phone number — exactly.
For that very reason, you should list your business -exactly- in as many general and specific-to-your-business directories as possible. Make no mistake, Google finds them all and when it does, it confirms your value to them and to their customers.
There is another advantage that is not limited to Google; Google’s domination of map and location information makes it the ideal database for iPhone apps and similar services that tap into that information. Such apps and directories deliver that same information in different ways to their own non-Google customers. Your prominence in Google Places will mean that you are also prominent in those other applications, too.
If you have a local small business, you simply have to get into Google Places as soon as now.
It’s free, it’s straight forward and it serves your local customers directly. There is real business waiting there for you; get going to Google Places.