14 Sep 2010

Going Local: Google Places

If your business depends on local customers, connecting with those area customers is key to the success of your business. Internet marketing affords you many opportunities to make more customers in the markets you serve aware of just what you have to offer. In our new blog series, Going Local, we discuss ways to build awareness of your business using local SEO.

One of the first things we at CyberMark recommend to local business owners looking for greater visibility among area customers is to claim their Google Places listing for their business. Google Places (formerly known as Google Local) displays any area businesses relevant to search inquiries in Google Maps. For instance, when someone in the Phoenix area searches for “pizza” in Google, all Phoenix area pizza restaurants show up in Google Maps. Each local business is represented in Google Maps with a red icon. When searchers click on a map icon, they are taken to that business' Google Places listing, which can contain all sorts of information about a business – from street address and phone number to photo galleries, customer reviews and coupons. With a Google Places listing for your business, you have a valuable opportunity to inform prospective customers about what your business has to offer.

Once you have claimed your Google Places listing through a short verification process, we advise you to fill out your listing as completely as possible with accurate information. Google Places allows you to provide the following information about your business:

  • Company name
  • Address – Your business' physical address or service area
  • Phone number
  • Website
  • Categories – Up to five categories that describe your business
  • Hours of operation
  • Payment options
  • Photos – Up to 10 photos from your business
  • Videos – Up to 5 of your company's YouTube videos
  • Coupons – Specials and deals for your business
  • Additional details – Custom fields such as “Cuisine” or “Nearby Attractions”

The more information you provide in your Google Places listing, the easier it will be for potentially interested customers to find your business.

Just like with regular Google search results, Google Maps uses an algorithm to determine which Google Places listings to display first. Several factors go into that algorithm, including number of reviews. Although Google Places pulls in reviews from third-party websites such as Insider Pages, Yahoo Local and Zagat, you can boost the ranking of your Google Place listing by encouraging customers to review your business in Google Maps. You can do this by including a link to your Place listing on your website or your e-mail newsletter. In addition to helping your ranking, you might win over potential customers with a Place listing that displays so many reviews from happy, satisfied customers.

At CyberMark, we can help you set up and maintain your Google Places listing(s). As Google Places experts, we can help you avoid the all-too-common mistakes that can get your business penalized or even banned. Just contact us, and we'll set up a Google Places listing that will get you noticed.

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