If you own a business that is not primarily an online based business (like S. D. Ward & Associates for instance), then you must have an online presence that reaches your local market in search engine rankings. One of the ways to reach your local market aside from spending time and/or money on search engine optimization for overall page rankings is to register with and utilize Google Places optimization in the same way you do search engine optimization.
Google Places is the local market search engine tool that Google has that allows local businesses to advertise to local searchers for the business or service a searcher is looking for locally. Google Places optimization allows local businesses to generate increased local hits – people in your local area clicking on your Website link from Google that are interested in your specific services or products.
In other words, local search results from people who are looking specifically for a company or service in their area mean that you can specifically focus on local search engine optimization and generate local business if you are after local business in your area. From the consumer side, if you live in St. Augustine, FL and do a Google search for “plumbing repair” in the middle of the night when a pipe breaks behind the wall in your bathroom, you are most likely NOT looking for a plumbing repair business that is in Denver Colorado, right?
Google Places allows you to have this ability to type in plumbing repair and your search engine results will be for plumbing repair wherever you live (or are accessing the Internet from). Yes, Google (or anyone for that matter) can know exactly where you are accessing the Internet from when you do. That is how they know to search for plumbers in your area – they have your IP address (a sort of internet postal code).
Now, if you are a business – let’s say a plumbing repair business – and you want to be found by people in your area where you operate your business, one of the best ways now to do this is to get listed with Google Places since it literally will put you on the map for the world to find you. The great news about this is that you can register your business or service with Google Places for free. I love free advertising, don’t you? As one who has been in business for far longer than he would like to admit, advertising in business is like food is to our human existence. If you do not have it you will die. I love them both! The only thing better than advertising and food is FREE adverting and FREE food!
If you want to get your business activity moving in your local market, here is how you go about it with Google Places.
1. If you don’t have a Google email, get one. They are free (I love that word). You will need to have a Gmail account in order to get logged into Google.
2. Once logged in, this link will get you to the “List Your Business” option you need.
You will be escorted through several pages and asked various information including your phone number and address. This allows Google to distinguish the unique nature of your business for classification in Google’s listing. Once finished with this basic registration, you will be sent a PIN number to verify your listing.
3. After you have gotten registered, you can complete your Google Places profile by adding photos, video, details about your business, a description, and your best 30 second sales pitch (or 60 second, whatever works)! When it comes to Google Places Local, the more information you provide the better your likelihood of a higher positioning in the local listings. In a way, your Google Places profile is sort of like a Website all its own. The more information you have to share with Google and those who are searching for what you offer, the better your rankings will be in the search results for local businesses like yours – generally speaking.
I cannot overstate the importance of a well-written business description for your Google Places listing. This is where you really have the opportunity to catch the attention of a passer-by and build the ‘sticky effect’ for your listing. The sticky effect is the ability to keep someone on your Website (or in this case, your Google Places listing) for as long as possible. If you need help writing a strong company description, let one of our staff know by writing coachme[at]sdward.com, and we will be happy to help you – BOY! Do WE have a DEAL for YOU!!!? Seriously, don’t negate the importance of a well crafted description for your business. It’s part of what we do best, in the same way – if you are that plumbing repair business I was just talking about – you do what you do best.
SUCCESS HINT: Once you have your Google Places listing done, duplicate it with other search engines as well, starting with BING.com. Bing is Google’s largest competitor and not to be negated when it comes to user popularity.
If you do everything right in listing your business with Google Places, you will end up on a Google Places map at the top of the search page with a little button right on top of where your business is located (see picture inset). Talk about putting yourself ‘on the map’ – this is one of the best ways to gain local exposure to anyone in search for your business or service.