According to Google, 97% of consumers use the internet to search for local businesses. And according to common knowledge (have you ever heard anyone offer to Bing something for you?), most of those people are using Google to do their searching. If you’re wondering how to position yourself so the people searching for your kind of business end up at your listing, the answer is simple: Google Places.
Google Places is the ultimate in location-based searching and results, and it’s easy for you to jump onboard. Just follow these few steps.
- Create your business listing. If you’re a new small business, it’s likely that you’re not listed yet. Simply log into your Google account and click on “add new listing” to get started. Select your county to get started!
- Claim your business listing. After you’ve listed your business (or if your business was already listed with Google), you’ll need to claim it as yours. Google will confirm that you’re the rightful owner of the business by calling you (make sure to provide your local business phone number — your area code is important!) or sending you a letter, so you know that no unauthorized person can set up and take over your Places listing.
- Add your description. Google doesn’t let you put URLs, phone numbers, or extraneous keywords in your business name; the description field is the place where you can expand on what it is you do. Don’t keyword-seed — the most important thing here is that you’re giving consumers a useful description of your business so they want to head right over. The best Google page ranking in the world isn’t going to help if all people see when they click is a bunch of nonsense.
- Add pictures to your listing. Give people a visual sample of what’s waiting for them will help entice your customers to visit.
And now, for the best part — Google Places is absolutely free to use. And while Google Tags has gone the way of the dinosaur, there’s a new kid on the block: Google Boost. This service provides an ad for your business on Google Maps, giving your small business extra exposure. And it’s free to set up — you’re only charged for actual ad clicks. For any customers who click on your Places business listing, you don’t pay at all.
If your small business isn’t listed on Google Places, what are you waiting for? With the increasing number of smartphones — most of which use Google’s mobile search, and a good number of which have a Google-connected navigator program — it’s absolutely crucial that you keep up with the emerging technology if you want to remain competitive. Head over to Google Places and sign up your business today — you can thank me later.