SEM Guide: How to Get Started with Google Places
They say location is everything. Well Google Places is one of the most lucrative locations you can establish for your business, and is part of the growing trend towards local search, and even hyper-local search.
Ninety-seven percent of consumers search online for local products and services. Are you there when they need you? If not, read on.
Complete Your Google Places Profile
The first place to start is to set up your Google Places account. Setting up an account only takes five minutes. You’ll feel an iota of excitement when you’re greeted with the message, “Welcome to Google Places for Business!” You’ll be asked to verify your account and you’ll have the option to stay “informed of future releases and other relevant information.” Essentially, to subscribe to the Google Places newsletter. I’d subscribe if I were you, because it’s full of valuable information that can help you in the future.
Be sure to verify your account. When you have a verified account, your business will show up in local listings. You’ll also be allowed to edit your listing. One thing to note is that any edits will undergo a quality check before being updated. Several business days can go by without any changes appearing, and the previous version will continue to be present, so don’t panic if your changes aren’t showing up!
Places (as it’s oven referred to) makes it easy to fill in your profile. It displays a bar that shows how far along you are in the process.
Add your logo, choose your business category, and enter your address, phone number, and hours of operation. Places even encourages you to complete your profile by declaring the information you left out “missing” (i.e. “Missing hours of operation”, “Missing description about your business”). You’ll then be shown a link to “Add it”.
The information you provide enables Google to analyze your business and further assess when it should be listed in Google search results, including Google+, Earth, and Maps. Because your Google+ Local page and Google Places listing are linked, you can manage them simultaneously. Even though Places and Google+ Local are separate entities, any edits you make to your Places listing will automatically apply to your Google+ Local page.
Your Reviews are an Opportunity
Besides providing the means for your business to be found, Google Places serves another purpose: providing critical customer feedback. Seventy-two percent of consumers rely on online reviews, and more than half are likely to visit your business based on a favorable review.
Online reviews are important because they let you know how your business is perceived by your customers. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with them and respond to both positive and negative feedback.
Remember that negative feedback is an opportunity, as well. If you don’t want your response to be on display, offer the customer a chance to personally contact you in order to address the feedback. Your customers will appreciate your accessibility, and learning from your mistakes will only make your business better.
Try Google Offers for Free
Consumers love promotional giveaways, and Google Places offers a coupon generator to drive consumers to your door. After you have verified your authority within the business, your Google Places account will give you access to the coupon generator, known as Google Offers. Google Offers lets you present a promotion to potential and returning customers. The type of offer is your choice, and you determine the length of time it will run. Within hours, you will be ready to receive your first Google Offer from a customer.
When using Google Maps, consumers will find the coupon searching for your type of business via their mobile device. The person has to be located near your business in order to find the offer, but this is an advantage because they can visit you right away.
For example, if somebody is starting a new job in a part of town she’s unfamiliar with, for her first lunch break she might hungrily look up “Mexican Food” on the Google Maps on her Android phone. She’ll see a coupon offer when she clicks on your location, and because you’re only two miles away from her new office, she immediately goes to your taqueria to get the three taco special advertised in the coupon.
Where Google Places and Google Maps Come Together
Google Places is also integrated with Google Maps. Establishing a presence on Google Maps gives your business leverage in terms of search results.
- Start by claiming your business on Maps and verifying that your business details are accurate.
- Then perform a search on the Google Maps website. The location of your business is marked by an icon which looks like a red balloon. If you click on the icon, a white box will appear on the screen with your address, phone number, and perhaps a photo.
- If you find that the information needs editing, click “more,” located at the bottom right corner of the white box. A drop down menu will appear, and one of the options is “Edit details.”
- If you’re not on Google Maps, visit the Google Places website and click the link, “Get started for free”. You’ll need to create or sign into your Google account for access. From that point, you simply add your business and confirm that you’re the business owner.
- Anyone can edit your entry if the business isn’t claimed, but you can claim the listing. Google will ask if you are the business owner and a button is provided to “Manage Your Page.”
- When you click on it, you will be asked to verify your business and whether you are its owner. Confirm your official association with the business by either phone or mail.
- Via phone, you’ll receive an automated phone call at the number listed, and by mail, a postcard will be sent to the business address. The phone call and postcard will contain your unique PIN number.
Just as with your Places listing, you want to fill in as much information and details on Maps as possible.
Your knowledge of keyword search from our previous post will come in handy because you’ll recognize the advantage of choosing categories that describe your business. You want to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find you, and the categories you choose to describe your business will show up in their keyword search.
Your Next Steps
Google Places for Business is a growing source of traffic to local businesses, and is especially valuable as mobile becomes more important. Your homework today is to go and claim your Google Places location right away.
We hope you found the sixth post of our SEM Guide useful! If you missed previous posts of this Guide, don't worry you we have all together here!
And stay tuned for our next blog post about Testing and Measuring!