Do you own a business or know somebody that does? Many small and medium businesses do not know that you can get some free advertising using Google Places. Verified Places owners can promote their business online and even view and respond publicly to user reviews. By providing the service for free, Google is looking to increase the value of their local mapping and search algorithm. Enter some basic information about your business and when a potential (local) customer looks up your type of services on Google, your business name appears at the top of the search page – resulting in more traffic, leads and customers. Here is a 5-step how-to guide to help you achieve this.
1. Check if your business is already listed. It is possible that your business is already listed on Google. If so, you will still need to claim your listing to make sure that the information is accurate and up to date. Go to Google Maps and search for your business name.
- If your business name shows up it will appear on the place-mark on the left pane. Click on it and a pop-up menu will appear providing you with a few options. Click on “more” to get to the “edit” option. If your business is unclaimed, once you click on “claim your business” you will be prompted to to choose between “Edit my business information”, “Suspend this listing” or “This isn’t my listing”. The first option will simply allow you to claim the current listing and modify some basic information. “Suspend this listing” will remove the entire listing entry from Google Maps. “This isn’t my listing” will allow you to set up an entirely new listing for your business.
- If your business name doesn’t show up you can go directly to Google Places and “add a new business”.
2. Verify your business. Google will ask you to verify the authenticity of your business listing either by phone or snail mail. This is a “curating” step of the process to help you get some control and manage your presence online.
3. Add information about your business. Now we get to the crucial part – this is your time to shine. Think practical + advertising. You want to provide your basic contact (name, address, phone number, website) but also practical information to potential customers (hours of operation, payment options) and even go the extra mile (why not include a link to your Facebook or Twitter page?). Keep in mind that your business will appear depending on the type of business google’d, so make sure you list yourself under the right category. Think 411.
4. Monitor your listing. Most businesses stop at step 3. Don’t you want to know if your listing is actually driving traffic to your business? Google provides statistics that can show you specific information about your business listing. “Impressions” indicate the number of times your listing has been displayed during a search. Keep in mind that the statistics are not in real time, so don’t check in the next morning to see how many new customers Google brought to your doors.
5. Engage with potential customers. The ability to respond publicly to reviews – positive or negative – is a great way to engage directly with customers and deal with specific issues in a timely manner. Google Places also allows you to add coupons that potential customers can print off and bring when they visit your business. There is a wide range of (paid) advertising options you can opt for. Not sure which one to choose? Fear not – Google just announced a new advertising program called Boost. It will automatically determine what keywords your business should bid on and recommends a range of monthly advertising budgets based on the competitiveness of your business sector.
Hope this helped. Don’t forget to spread the word by sharing this link! If you would like to dig in deeper you might want to check out the official Google Places user guide.