What is Google Places?
Have you noticed that when you search on Google, up comes a list of places and a map with markers? Those are local businesses that have a Google Places page. Google has been pushing businesses with a Places page to the top of the food chain for some time now.
Google Places can be effective at putting your business on the map (no pun intended…) What it basically does is push your business name up to the top of the search results, giving you immediate exposure.
And the best thing about it is… it’s free!
How do you use Google Places?
1. CREATE A LANDING PAGE
A ‘Landing Page’ is the website address included in your listing, the page they land on. It’s a page on your website specifically written for people who click on your business from the map. You will want this page to include a basic explanation of your business, the services you offer and the reasons why they should choose you and/or your business over others – not necessarily competitively but using terms that are important to you, perhaps ‘excellence’ or ‘personalized’. Use the URL for this landing page as the ‘Website Address’ in your listing. Make sure you include keywords in your text.
Think of yourself as a potential customer and what you might want to know about a business. In fact, take the time to look at other similar businesses and listen to yourself think as you review their landing page: are they telling you what you would want to know as a potential customer, or are they making you click links to get that information? People do not like to click. If what they want to know isn’t on the first page you offer them, they’ll move on.
2. OPEN A GOOGLE PLACES ACCOUNT
Then go to Google Places and add your business information as completely as possible. TIP: Don’t use a gmail address! You can create a Google Account with any email address. If you do not want to use a physical location on the maps, rent a box at a mailbox place, not the Post Office. In order to be included in maps, you must have a ‘physical’ address. Google will send a postcard with a PIN that you will use to verify your Places listing, or this can be done via the phone number you are using as your business phone quicker than snail mail. TIP: If you want to use phone verification instead of a postcard, make sure you are next to your business phone when you create your listing! Once you hit the submit button, the next page is the verification page – if you log out, you’ve lost your chance to verify by phone and get your listing on the map immediately. Postcards can take 2-3 weeks to arrive.
Use your actual business name – don’t ‘stuff’ your location or business type into the name or address fields. And make sure that the description is vague – don’t include any keywords or any repetition of your business name. I’ve heard one Google Places account holder ended up using the phrase ‘Have a Nice Day’ as a business description after being repeatedly penalized for bad description mojo.
3. ADD AN EVENT
Add an Event listing which is good for 30 days. Add a ‘Deal’ or coupon which you’ll probably never see come back to you but Google will appreciate it.
What qualifies as an ‘Event’?
Pretty much anything you have to say qualifies as a Places Event. Google doesn’t really have requirements for this. If you have changed or added anything to your business, make it an Event.
Now Offering _______________ (fill in the blank)
Free 30 minute Consultation
Get in Shape this Summer
$5 off ___________
….you get the drift.
Don’t use exclamation points or all caps anywhere in your listing. It will get flagged for ‘review’ which takes 4 weeks to clear up (personal experience).
4. USE THE GOOGLE COUPON / DEAL FEATURE
Google Places also has a Coupon or Deal feature. They must be watching the growth of Groupon and want to get in on some of that action. They don’t charge for this… yet.
Use it. Offer some special deal people can only use when they print out the coupon or show it to you on their phone. Do you have to give away the store? No. Keep your deals simple.
Make sure that you connect your Places landing page to the Google coupon. Go to the Offers tab to get the URL for the coupon.
Don’t use exclamation points or all caps anywhere in your listing. It will get flagged for ‘review’ which takes 4 weeks to clear up.
Does a Places page help you in Google rankings?
Google’s official answer is ‘no’ but the more information about your business you provide to Google, the friendlier they become to you.
What should I do if my business has 2 listings?
Get rid of one of them. Use the ‘Delete this Listing’ button at the bottom of one of the listings. Google doesn’t like multiple listings, considering them spammy. From personal experience, Google created 2 listings for a business because one gmail account was being forwarded to another – they connected the email addresses and then created 2 separate listings, neither of which would show up on the map. Both accounts were deleted, then a new account created using phone verification for immediate exposure.
Where Can I Get More Information About Google Places Policies?
What about Google Places Help?
Google has just set up a Help Desk for support issues with Google Places. And the Forum is pretty fantastic for answers.
GOOGLE PLACES UPDATE: JULY 2012
It looks as though Google Places will eventually be integrated with Google Plus accounts. Watch the blog for more information about this to come.
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