UPDATE 9/19/2014: This is old and will be updated soon.
UPDATE 7/24/2014: Google Places is now Google My Business.
First things first, Google Places for Business is not Google+ Pages nor is it Google+ Local. That would call for a different blog.
What is Google Places for Business then? Google Places is your local business listing. It is a free tool that gives small and medium businesses the chance to stand toe to toe with their big competitors. That means it could help you bring foot traffic to your business location if done well (read: optimized). It is highly recommended that you sign up for it if you haven’t yet. Now!
How I know it is important for your business
Google Places for Business came to my attention when I mapped out a long road trip that we just concluded. What I found is that Google.com and Google Maps pull info from Google Places and serves it up to online searchers, like you and me. Yes, Google Places for Business plays a HUGE integral part in Google’s search results.
Google Places for Business | Free ad for you but…
It is a free ad that any business ought to take advantage of. However, many accounts in Google Places look like this image below.
It is not optimized.
Does your Google Places account look like that? Did you check? If it is like that, please don’t beat yourself. I understand. I know. Been there, done that. Read on.
Possible excuses about your lack of/lackluster presence in Google Places are
1. “I have no time to set it up.’
Seriously, if you could do something unproductive for an hour (guilty your honor :)), isn’t your business more important than that? I strongly suggest that you drop the least important task that you are doing and just for an hour or so (depending on how quick you are and the availability of info), you can set up your business info in Google Places. Unlike social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, you don’t need to be on Google Places every day. It is low maintenance. Best practice: Check your Google Places Business info once in a while to make sure that contact info is up-to-date.
2. “I don’t know how to set it up.”
Google knows everything! 🙂 Seriously, there’s a plethora of instructions for that. Google it. If you still insist that it’s too complicated for you, may I suggest (ahem!) that you contact us to help you get started? 😀
3. “I didn’t know.”
NOW you do. Go to Google Places. Optimize it. Verify it.
Why you should be in Google Places
If your business truly matters to you, you don’t have to split rice (Asian expression) to answer that but here are a few important reasons:
- To rank and get found
- Leads, leads, leads
- Website traffic
- Online presence that is easy to maintain
- Free ad for you if you are strapped for marketing budget
- If you don’t have a website (and I wonder why), it is an online presence for your business.
Google Places Account Set Up Check-list
Important components to set up your business account:
1. Photos. Anything with photos performs better in search engine and enhances user experience. Exactly what that means is that the photos you use show up in search results. When I checked places to stay during our trip, guess what? I called the ones with photos FIRST.
2. With your gmail account, go to Google Places to register your account.
- Consistent company name, phone number and email address online – and offline.
- Include your zip code.
- Description of what you do as a business exclude location.
- Zip code is the best way to list areas you’re serving
- A Google rep will call you to confirm listing. Yeah, it’s not a spammy call. Answer it.
At the end of the registration process, Google requires that you verify it with a code from them either by post card or text message. Your choice. Why the need for verification? Per Google, “We do this to make sure that only the right people are able to change any public data about your business.”
3. Include keywords for your business. You could use Google Adwords Keyword tool to do that. Keywords are words that people use to find something online. You can guess but it is better to use a tool. Using the Keyword Tool is free.
4. Reviews and citations. These are two different components and both are factored in for Google ranking. It takes time to build it up. Worry about the set up first, and work on these later.
5. Videos. Make sure you own it, or that you have the permission to use it.
6. If you don’t have time, sign up FIRST, complete your listing later!
For more info, familiarize yourself with Google’s quality guidelines, copy this link: https://support.google.com/places/answer/107528
Does your Google Places information appear like you’re out of business? Let us help you! Contact us now at (916) 412-7766 or ask[at]socialsearchmarketinggroup.com
Note: All images are owned by Google.