Local marketing is a pretty big concern for businesses in the current economy, especially depending on the kinds of services and/or products they provide. This was especially on the minds at Google when they changed their name from Google’s Local Business Center to Google Places. Why was it important to them and to owners of local businesses? Simply because it demonstrated a fresh commitment and emphasis on local searches and, equally important, local content.

Have you seen the changes yet? You may not be entirely familiar with Google Places, but there’s a very good chance you’ve seen a map and some business names appear at the top of a search you’ve typed in. These tend to appear before any of the organic search results and you know what? They’re businesses local to your area, which makes for an excellent opportunity for promoting to that area. And since many owners are already doing it, it does raise the question why you aren’t.

Once you’ve finished puzzling over why you aren’t taking advantage of the Google Places opportunity, it’s time to sign up. Chances are you’re already listed if you have a website or a web presence since they create their listings by accumulating data already on the Web. Regardless, once your business is listed in Places, you’ll be asked to verify that you’re the owner. And once that’s been verified, you’ll receive a PIN number that will have to be entered into your dashboard.

Is anything ever that easy? Well, just in case in case it sounds that way and you’re wondering what to do next, you’ll want to start with the Place Page Tour. Beyond that, there’s also the Google Places User Guide.

And to help you along, here are some handy, helpful tips to assist your business in standing out on a Google Places page.

    1. What do you think customers would like to see? How about a photo of where your office is located or of the office itself? Maybe a couple of employees doing whatever it is that your business does? Some video content might not be a bad idea either.
    2. It’s always a plus when your customers come to visit you, but are you willing to hop in your vehicle and go see them? If so, consider mentioning it or even list the nearby areas you’d be willing to travel to.
    3. There may be several other businesses in the area that offer the same products or services as yours. Or perhaps you’re the only one. Either way, you want to entice potential customers or clients, so add some pizzazz when describing your business. Good copy doesn’t have to be dry to get your point across when you’re trying to excite folks.
    4. One of the most annoying things a potential customer finds online is incomplete information. Why have a presence on the web if you don’t include all the necessary info (address, hours of operation, who to talk to or even a link to your site)?
    5. Google allows you to list your business (or “place”) in five categories. Use them! Each one you utilize acts to increase your visibility to potential customers.
    6. Do people read reviews? Do you? If you come across two businesses where the first one has three reviews and the second one doesn’t have any, which one will you be more inclined to click on and look at? If you have a satisfied customer, why not ask them to put a good word in for you online? Every one counts!
    7. Does your business offer coupons? If so, you’re going to love that Google Places allows for that feature. Why not share them with the folks on the internet, too? Word-of-mouth for a great deal can travel quickly!

And, finally. Like social media, it helps to keep your information and updates on Google Places current. Don’t let it slip. Nobody likes an expired coupon either.

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