Five reasons why your business needs Google Places

Written on 23 April, 2012 by Clancy Clarke
Categories: Search Engine Optimisation | Tags: google, search engine optimisation, seo

The economy may still be feeling the effects of the GFC, but one thing that remains resilient is the internet, with billions of searches each week. In fact, 97 per cent of consumers search for local businesses online according to data released by Google.

If you aren’t making your business stand out with a strong web presence you’re missing out on lucrative returns. It doesn’t matter if your businesses can only advertise on a shoestring budget, as there are plenty of free marketing tools to take advantage of – such as Google Places.

How does Google Places work?

Google Places is a local online directory of businesses. It works by helping consumers locate local businesses just by searching for certain keywords or phrases in Google. For example, type in “Melbourne + cafe” into Google and a string of cafes in Melbourne will be listed, including their contact details and locations. The directory displays the exact physical location of a business on a street map using Google’s web-based mapping application Google Maps.

Why should I use it?

Google Places has a knack of showing up on the first page of Google search results, positioned right at the top along with a helpful map. It’s the first thing people see and it’s displayed above your own business website.

With SEO (search engine optimisation) becoming more vital to successful online strategies, now is the time to start utilising tools like Google Places. Local businesses that are vying for sales online, but do not have a map listing, will find it extremely difficult to rank higher for their target search terms when Google favours its Google Places directory.

Here are some helpful tips for maximising your Google Places listing:

  1. Sign up right now

    Register for the service by entering your business information on Google Places – it’s quick and simple. Enter your shop address, contact details, business website and hours of retail operation. If your business does not have an office or store and you do not want to disclose your home address, you can choose to hide your personal details: just specify a ‘service area’.

    To get the most of your Google Places listing also ensure that all the information is 100% completed – the more useful your Google Places listing the more likely it is to show up in the search results.

  2. Use the right keywords

    Whenever you mention your products, services or business in your listing descriptions, always use keywords and phrases that consumers are likely to search for. This will boost your SEO and display your business in competitive search results.

    Be careful however, because using keywords in the wrong areas of your listing can be a violation of the Google Places quality guidelines and can cause your listing to be suspended.

  3. Relevant images

    Add life to your Google Places listing by submitting photos related to your business. Include your storefront or office, photos of your bestselling products and even your staff members.

  4. Customer reviews

    Once your Google Places is up and running, start encouraging your customers to post feedback on your listing. Google favours customer reviews because it indicates that your business is active and appreciated by real customers.

  5. Stay on top of your game

    Treat Google Places like any one of your other social media pages and monitor feedback. If you receive a negative review from a disgruntled customer, respond to it. Use it as an opportunity to show that you are taking responsibility for any errors and that you are willing to correct any problems. If you believe that your competitors are creating accounts and posting negative reviews with malicious intent, you can report it to Google and dispute it using the ‘flag as inappropriate’ link below the fake review.

A Google Places listing is paramount to a success online marketing campaign and forms and integral part of search engine optimisation. Have you found a Google Places listing working for you? Do you have any tips and tricks to increase the reach of your local listing? Tell us in the comments.

If you want to get more exposure from your local business, speak to WebCentral about our search engine optimisation programs.