The Google search engine and Google Maps are replacing the Yellow pages as the gold standard for finding businesses. In the fast changing world of the internet a Google Places listing is an essential piece of kit for a businesses online presence. Setting up a Places profile is the work of minutes – simply add basic business information such as opening hours, address, contact number- and then verify via text, phone or postcard. You can also add a few key words, upload an image or two and even attach a video to your listing. The majority of local business listings will stop at that and simply hope that they gain enough exposure to drive traffic to their website or calls to the work phone.
For something that is so easy to set up, few consider the optimization opportunities or take the time to really better their listings which is a shame when you consider that Google gives quite a lot of importance on their Places tool. Google Place search results appear automatically when Google determines that you are looking for a ‘business in a location’.
Consider the search for Play Centres in Manchester.
A Places listing is made up of a number of factors, not just the information the web site owner inputs into the local business listing form. Google pulls data from sources such as Yellow Pages and reviews from third party providers such as qype and Foursquare, although it does give the majority weighting to the Places info provided by the page owner. So, an easy first step to making sure your Places listing is really pulling its weight and working to drive relevant traffic is to keep any other local business listings up to date.
Google has recently introduced an ‘areas served’ option to its Places portfolio. This is a useful tool for party entertainers and inflatable operators and allows you to specify how far outside of your verified address you’re willing to travel and which areas in particular the service applies to.
The more information you provide in your listing, the more likely is it to rank higher. As with any kind of optimization implementation, the greater the data the search engine has to sift through, the better its understanding of how and when to rank you. If you’re guilty of completing only the required fields when setting up your listing, go back and complete all fields. Try and include at least one video and a selection of relevant images.
Of course, you can also ask your existing clients to help you win new business through the Places interface. The stars displayed with your Maps listing are based on average ratings from independent reviews – that means you need to get in to the habit of asking clients to review your service or product either directly on your listing review link or, through a respected and relevant site like netmums or local tourist sites.
Finally, don’t forget to refresh your Places page as often as is needed. If you have new photos taken log back in and add the best image. If your company logo changes, log back in and add the new logo. If you have a video from an event, log back in and upload. The more often you add information and content, the more likely your listing is to be seen within the first block of local business listings on Google.
For help on how to get set up on Google Places please see the following link. Set up guide for Google Places