Google Places is Google's local business directory service. This service allows you to list your business in the Google Places directory and appear when people search for businesses like yours in your area. It is a very powerful way to highlight the location of your business, verify information about your business with Google so you can be found, allow your customers to connect with your business online and keep track of how people are using your listing so you can make informed marketing decisions. The best part - it is free.
You have probably seen Google Places search results when you have searched for businesses in your area. The screenshot below shows what the Google Places results look like for the search "pizza boston". The Google Places results appear at the top of the search results page, right below the search box and above the normal search results. This means that if you business listing performs well in Google Places, it could perform better than all of the other search results for the search terms you are targeting.
The Google Places search results include your contact information and they show your business on a map with other similar businesses in your area. The results also include a link to your website and a link to your Google Places page. The Google Places page includes additional information about your business including your hours of operation, services offering, parking information, coupons, customer reviews and more.
How To Get Started
To get started, visit http://www.google.com/places and sign up for a free account. If you already have a Google Account you can use that to login. If not, you can create a free Google account in a few minutes and you will be able to sign up to start creating your business listing. Once you create your account, you will see a big button labeled "List Your Business". Just click on this button and Google will walk you through the process of creating your new business listing.
How To Optimize Your Listing
Once you have created a listing, you will want as many people to see it as possible. Here are some tips to help you optimize your listing and improve your visibility.
- Only include your business name in the business title field - It is tempting to include extra keywords, your phone number or other descriptive text with your business name, but Google Places has guidelines that forbid this practice. You should only include your actual business name in the "Company" field. (source)
- Make sure you have a physical location - Google Places is only for businesses that have a physical location. Google does verify your submission data, so if you don't have a physical location in a specific area don't try to cheat the system. Google Places does allow you to indicate your service areas. If you are located in Town A, but also provide service in Town B, just create a listing for your actual address in Town A and use Google's tools to indicate your service area. (source)
- Add useful descriptions and choose the right category for your listing - Including useful information in the "description" field and choosing relevant categories for your business will help improve your visibility. In addition, this information will make the listing more useful to potential customers who are searching for your services. (source)
Advertising Your Listing
Everything we have described so far is free, but if you want to be more aggressive about promoting your business with Google Places you can use their new advertising service Google Boost.
Google Boost will help you create an advertisement for your business based on the information you provide in your Google Places listing. They provide suggestions regarding ad text, categories, keywords and monthly advertising budget. Once you setup your advertisement and confirm the settings with Google Boost, your advertisement will begin to display almost immediately. The advertisements are pay-per-click ads, so you will only pay when someone clicks on your ad. If no one clicks your ad, you don't pay anything.
Contact Us To Get Started
You can do everything we have described above yourself, but we know you have a business to run. If you need help setting up your Google Places account, please contact us. If you have questions, or if you want to share more about how you are using Google Places, please leave a comment.