20% of all searches on Google are related to location. Is your business being found? Many businesses invest in SEO (search engine optimization) but overlook Google’s simple and effective tool: Google Places (formerly called Local Business Centre). Did you know that Google now highlights local businesses in top search results? In other words when a client is looking for an event planner in New York, owners that have created a storefront for their business will be found over yours.
Google Places lets businesses take control of their listings on Google and tell their customers what they’re all about.
Here is a simple ‘how to’ that will help you set up your business on Google Places:
1. Create a Google Account
- Sign up for a Google account if you don’t have one already
2. Log in to Google Places
- Go to Google Places (ensure you are logged in to your Google Account)
3. Add your Business
- Click on ‘Add a Business‘ or ‘Add another Business‘ if you have already added a business to Google Places
- Input your address, email and website information; then click ‘Next’
4. Enter business details
- You can select up to 5 business categories. It’s important to think about how your customers will search for your type of business. Pick categories that are relevant to help improve your search engine rankings.
- Enter your service area. You have two selections here: 1) You can input a geographical area around your business address (i.e. within 30 miles of the business address) or 2) You can input cities, states/provinces or postal codes for the areas you serve.
- Input your hours of operation and any payment options you accept
- Next, you can input up to 10 photographs – these can include any photographs that you think will help sell your business. Keep in mind that Google has limitations on file sizes and file formats.
- You can also include video from Youtube. This is a phenomenal way to sell your business. Think about including overview of your business, customer testimonials, messages from employees or anything else that will help tell your story.
- As you fill in all of your information you’ll see how your listing will look…
5. Confirm your listing
- Once you’ve hit ‘Submit’ you’ll be asked to select a method to confirm your listing. Basically Google wants to ensure that the listing was created by someone authorized by your business. You can select phone, SMS text or snail mail. Google will then send you a 4 digit pin number which you’ll need to add to your listing in order for it to be published to Google. From experience the snail mail option is unreliable. I have selected this information twice (before phone & SMS were available) and still have yet to receive a postcard with my pin number.
Some additional features not yet available in Canada
Perhaps it’s because the entire population of Canada equals that of California, but we tend to get things a little slower than our neighbors to the South. There are some great features available to Americans:
- Advertising with tags – in select cities in the US this option will be available
- QR codes – Google Places will let US companies create QR codes so that consumers can download your business information direct to their smart phones
- Favorite places – For some businesses, Google will send you a window decal to display in your window showing that your business is registered with Places. The decal will include a QR code that lets passersby download your business info to their smart phone.
- Real time updates to your Places page
5. Analyze & Monitor
- Visit your personalized dashboard to review analytics on your page – how many people are clicking on your listing, where they’re coming from, what other words their searching to find your business, etc.
- Listen to what people are saying about your business. Google is currently aggregating reviews from other sites, like Yelp, but will also allow customers to leave reviews about your business for other customers to read.
- Google recently launched the Places Android app
- If you have a Sale or Special, you can also offer coupons to customers which they can download directly from your Places listing.
- View the Google Places video here:
- If you’re a home based business, no need to worry about disclosing your address. Find out how to hide your address.
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