Google Places is one of my favourite tools in the Google portfolio. It’s powerful for local searches which is good for us business bloggers.
What is Google Places?
It’s a platform that lets businesses interact directly with their customers online. It’s also a wonderful tool for attracting new customers and (allegedly) helps you rank higher in the search engines. It also feeds in your business information to Google Maps.
Signing Up For Google Places
You may already have a Google Places listing and not even know it! If anyone has reviewed your business online, you’ll be there. The only trouble is that you don’t have control of your Google Places listing until you claim it.
So start off by searching Google Places for your business. If you find it listed already click on the link that says ‘business owner’ on the upper right-hand part of the screen. Here you can edit your information and verify that you’re the owner of the business. This is done by submitting a phone number to which Google calls you to verify. You can also choose to do it by mail which takes about 4 weeks. If I were you, I’d choose the phone option.
If you’re not listed already, it takes just a few minutes to sign up. Create a Google ID first, and then follow the steps. If you have another Google account such as Google Plus you can login using that.
Tips on Optimising Your Google Places Listing
Write your business’s information as though it were your blog. Keyword-optimise and tell potential customers what you’re all about and make sure to list all the areas where you operate. Be sure to fill in every snippet of information because if your listing is incomplete, it won’t appear in searches. You may serve several locations but you can only set up Google Places where you have premises, an actual business address.
Branding is extremely important with Google Places. Use the same logos and images that you use elsewhere so that your brand is consistent. You should also improve your online visibility by linking all of your other sites and social media profiles to your Google Places listing where possible.
Things to Avoid With Google Places
Although you might be tempted to keyword-stuff, Don’t. That’s so important I’ve bolded it. You don’t want your listing to appear spam like and disappear from the search engine results pages. Resist the urge to add keywords to your business name unless they are your actual business name. If you want to add something to increase searchability it’s ok to include a geographical location in the name.
Your address – as with branding, be consistent. You need to be careful with how you type in your address. If you write out ‘Street’ elsewhere instead of abbreviating it ‘St.,’ stay consistent. Make sure that you use a street address and not a post office box, even if that’s where you get mail. Keep it clean and don’t add landmarks or directions. The reason all of this is important is that Google Places is integrated with Google Maps, and if the address is weird, Google Maps won’t be able to find you.
One of the purposes of claiming and maintaining your own business listing is to make sure that everything written there is accurate. Google often makes mistakes in its listings, it pulls information from multiple sources including Yellow Pages, or there could be incomplete information making it harder for potential customers to locate you. Make sure your listing gets a polish so that people can find you.
The other purpose is the “status update” on your Google place page.
You can update the status, it’s at the top right of your Google Places page, with an offer. The offer will remain live for 30 days. This gives us the opportunity to measure the effective of Places for our business. By adding a Google Places only offer you can track how effective it is for your business.
You can also add a URL to the update but this isn’t a live link. It would be worth testing and sending people to a Google Places only landing page to take advantage of any potential offers.
How do you use your Google Places Listing?
Note: Since this post went live Google has merged Google Places into G+ and is now known as Google Local
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