Google Places Help for Small Business

7 tips for getting your small business found online using GOOGLE* Places Help!

When was the last time you used a phone book?

Chances are you’re more likely to grab it as a makeshift booster seat or doorstop than to look up a business!

Online search has quickly replaced the yellow pages.  Now many cities are looking at requiring an opt-out option for phone book delivery.

With about 65% of market share, GOOGLE™ is undoubtedly the “Big Daddy” of search engines and they’ve just made it easier for small businesses with Google Places.

Formerly known as local maps, the Google Places page provides a free listing containing contact information for your business. It uses this information to serve up results for local search and place you as a “pin” on their maps. In fact it’s not unusual to see the Places page listing showing higher in the rankings than a company’s own website. (For more details check out the article on What is GOOGLE Places for Business?)

*GOOGLE is a trademark of Google Inc. This article was written based on research and professional experience. This author, company, and website are not endorsed by or affiliated with GOOGLE Inc.

Claim Your GOOGLE Places Page

The first step is to see if your business already has a Google Places listing.

Just open a Google search bar and type in your business name, city, and state. If you don’t see it listed with a red map pin next to it then go to the left side bar and select “More” and then “Places”.

If you find your listing just click the link to view the actual “Place Page”. This will take you to the web page Google has created for your business. To the right and above the map you should see “Edit This Place” followed by either “Owner Verified Listing” or “Business Owner?” in blue text.Exposure One Local Internet Marketing Clermont FL

An example of a places page is shown to the right using the term internet marketing Clermont FL.

If you already show as Owner Verified you can skip the next step and move to optimizing your listing.

If you have a listing that says “Business Owner?” you need to verify your listing.

Can’t find your company listed at all? That is perfectly normal for a new business so you will just need to start the next step from scratch.

Verify Your Business Listing

In order to get optimum results you will want to verify your business. Google wants to be sure the listing information is accurate and that only the actual business owner is editing the information.

To verify or create a new listing sign into the Google Places area by using an existing account (like Gmail). If you don’t have a Google Account or want a separate business account just follow the steps to create a new one.

Once inside Google Places complete and optimize the following field:

• Business Name – The legal business name or d/b/a you use for your business in the offline world. Don’t add taglines or extra keywords to your business name in this section.

• Address – Enter a physical address where you can receive mail. Google specifically states you must NOT use a P.O. Box or UPS type box. They are looking for an address where customers can locate you. If you are a home based business that means using a personal address or executive office address. You will have a chance later in the process to select a service area if you want to hide a home address from public view.

• Local Phone Number – Enter a local number with area code rather than a toll free number.

• Website URL – The home page URL for your website (for example http://www.mydomainname.com)

• Business Email – It is best to use an email that goes with your website URL (for example info@mydomainname.com).

• Business Categories – Be sure to use all 5 categories that are allowed. It is best to use categories that already exist.

• Description of Services – Tell users what you do and what makes your business special. This is an excellent place to use keywords in a natural way that is both user and SEO friendly.

• Service Areas – Google understands that not all local businesses serve their customers from a brick-and-mortar storefront. For example, some businesses operate from a home address. Others are mobile and have no central location.

• Hours of Operation – Enter the days and hours your business is open.

• Payment Options – Select the payment options for your business.

• Photos – Add up to 10 photos of your business, screenshots of your website, or other photos that relate to your industry. Use SEO keywords in the photo title tags to boost your results.

• Videos – Add up to 5 videos by uploading them to YouTube and then just copy and paste the URL to the listing. Use geo codes and keywords when creating your videos to improve results.

• Additional Details – Use this section to add custom information fields to your listing. Just be sure to follow the guidelines for custom attributes.

You will have the chance to preview and change your listing. When you are satisfied then select whether to verify your listing by phone or mail. You will receive a PIN that must be entered to finish the verification process.

The phone verification happens within seconds so be sure you are available to answer the automated call.  The verification by mail can take 7-10 days for the letter and PIN to arrive.  Don’t be alarmed if the only option provided is to verify by mail. This usually happens if you are creating a new listing rather than claiming an existing page.

7 Tips to Help GOOGLE Places Optimization

Just like organic search there are some things you can do that will help the ranking of your places listing. Be sure to use these 7 helpful tips:

#1 Complete The Full Listing

Make sure you’ve utilized and completed all areas outlined above to their full extent – like adding coupon offers, selecting 5 categories, and uploading 10 photos and 5 videos.

#2 Utilize Keywords

Incorporate the keywords or SEO phrases a person would use to find your services in the descriptiven areas.

#3 Follow the Policies and Quality Guidelines

There are some “do’s and don’ts” you will want to follow as published by Google. While the main ones have been highlighted, it is a good idea to read through them using the link at the end of this article.

#4 Add Offers

Once your listing has been verified you can add an offer or coupon.

#5 Encourage Reviews

Ask customers and users to provide reviews. If you don’t yet have customer reviews ask someone to review your website or give a personal review. This will help build your trust factor and rankings.

#6 Build Citations

Obtain listings from other online directories paying close attention that all entries for NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) are an exact match for best results.  For more information check out this article on How to Optimize GOOGLE Places Rank With Directory Listing Citations including a list of the top 20 online directories to help get you started!

#7 Google Places Help and Optimization Services

If you plan to take the “Do-It-Yourself” or DIY approach and want more information you can visit the following links for help:

Google Places Login Get Started at http://www.google.com/places/

Google Places User Guide and Policies at http://www.google.com/support/places/

Google Places YouTube Video Channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/GooglePlaces

Google Places Help Services If you prefer to have a local search expert handle your Google Places Optimization and SEO we invite you to contact us at 407-374-2924.  We provide effective and affordable services that will improve your rankings starting at just $99!

There are still many business owners that haven’t yet claimed, verified, or optimized their listing. That means now is the time to take action! Don’t get left behind…claim the Google Places Page for your small business today!

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