It is a well-known fact that the vast majority of consumers turn to the internet when looking for local businesses. Google has also told us that ¾ of all online activity is related to local content. This is of vast importance for local businesses which depend on the search engine giant to drive people through their doors, to generate phone calls and to increase the awareness regarding their brands.
Most local businesses spend a good deal of money and time fine-tuning their paid search campaigns and SEO strategies. However, many are not realizing one of the most valuable and cost-free tools Google has, is Google Places. This service was first offered by Google two years ago this fall to replace the Google Local service. The nice thing about Places is the fact that it is totally free and quite easy to set up.
To get started with Google Places you will have to submit your basic info including your business name, website URL, description of your business, category, hours of operation, telephone number, payment options you accept and a photo or video which highlights your business. You are allowed to add up to ten images and five videos. The more info you enter about your business the better your organic rankings will be in Places but avoid keyword stuffing as Google could remove your listing. It’s also important to be specific when adding your business description. Avoid saying things like “we’ve been in business for over two decades” or “we’re the best dog groomer in the city”.
Once you have set up your account and have finished entering your business information, Google will send you a PIN verification number by mail (postcard) SMS or via a phone call, the choice is yours. You will need to log into Places and enter your Pin next to the business listing you created and then you’re done. It will take Google 30 days from the time you enter your PIN to verify your business.
It’s important to know that Google Places only lists seven businesses per search with its red place markers marked A through G. This means that those business similar to yours which have listed themselves on Places before you did get the place markers. Listing your business as soon as possible is the way to go so that you can claim one of the coveted 7 place markers. Another way to get into the top seven is to encourage customer reviews because the more reviews you get, the more likely you’ll land in the top seven.
You can check to see if your business is listed in Places by searching for your phone number in Google maps. If it shows up, then that’s great! There really isn’t any reason not to use Places as it provides a great way for customers to find you which will most likely convert into sales and business prominence.