We all know that nowadays more and more people are using the Internet to find information, products and services. Local search, according to Google, accounts for approximately 75% of this online activity, making it more important than ever to have a presence in local search results.
There are many things you could do to try and rank your business for local searches, including Search Engine Optimisation and Google Adwords, however for those of you who don’t have the budget for an online marketing campaign, we suggest having a Google Places listing – a free (yet valuable) way to get your business listed online.
So what is Google Places?
A Google Places listing are those businesses (with or without a website) that have a pushpin in the Google map and a corresponding result in the “Places for [insert search term] near [insert location]” when you search for a local business using Google (see image below). The map and listing used to appear within the search results with a link to that business’ Google Places listing. Now Google has combined the listing with a result for the business’s website. What this does is make it much easier to get a result on the first page of Google.
Submit or claim your listing: Go to www.google.com/places/ and start the submission process. If your business is already on Google Places, you can do a search and claim the listing from this area.
Verify your details: Google needs to make sure that your listing is legitimate. There are 3 ways to verify your listing: by phone, postcard or text message. The phone or text method is the fastest way to verify your listing.
Wait for your details to appear: It takes time for Google to start showing your listing in search results, and in many cases it won’t show up on the first page of Google. Of course, there are things you can do to your listing to improve your chances…
Five things you should do:
- Listen to Google. Make sure you are following their Quality Guidelines otherwise your listing may be declined or take much longer to be displayed.
- Be accurate. Fill out your Places listing as accurately as possible – make sure your details exactly reflect your business in the offline world.
- Do more than the bare minimum. The more complete your listing is, the more likely it will be displayed within Google search results. Include your hours of operation, select appropriate categories, payment options, upload images (you can have up to 10 including your logo), videos and any extra information in the ‘Additional Details’ section.
- Encourage customer reviews. While it’s not always the case, listings with a greater number of positive reviews will typically appear above others that don’t. We all know that those who didn’t have a positive experience will usually want to tell the world, but those who had a good experience with a company rarely let them know about it. Try and counter this by reminding customers to write a review – include a small message on your invoice, emails or website, for example.
- Select a Service Area. Companies that don’t want to show their physical address or who run a mobile business can also enjoy the benefits of a Google Places listing – when you’re submitting your details, select ‘Yes, this business serves customers at their locations’, then list your services areas by region or postcode. You can even choose to not show your business address on your listing.
Some things you shouldn’t do…
- Don’t keyword stuff. If you include marketing jargon or lingo where your business name is, your listing will be denied. If you stuff your description or additional details full of keywords, your listing will be denied. Write a clear, concise and accurate description of your services that includes your main keyword or search phrase once – that’s all you need.
- Don’t misrepresent yourself. Always ensure the information you are providing is correct – Google will try and match the data submitted with other data about you on the web (citations).
- Don’t use inappropriate photos. Google has clear guidelines on uploading photos – make sure you’re not violating copyright, infringing on trademarks, using illegal content or the usual internet no-nos including pornography and violence. See the full list here.
There are plenty of companies out there that can help you with a Google Places listing, and we hear about a lot of businesses being charged a hefty fee to set one up – just remember that it is free to have a listing in Google Places so you should only be paying for their time and advice. Feel free to call us at e-CBD for advice on Google Places optimisation OR if you want us to set up a well-optimised Google Places for you it will only cost you a very reasonable $150.