The internet has allowed us all to share information far more rapidly, so not only can businesses spread marketing solutions and content at a quicker rate than ever before, but clients can engage with those materials with ease. The problem is that the internet is full of inaccuracies and speculation. If you don’t take control of your online image it might be corrupted, either purposefully or accidentally. You want to be as sure as you can that the information shared online about your business is as accurate as possible. Fortunately, Google has made this effort considerably less difficult with their Places service.
Places integrates with Google to ensure that those who discover your business through the search engine will be presented with the most accurate view of it possible. The platform allows you to update and alter information on the fly. It’s easy to manage and maintain. You can even add photos and videos to present a more personal and complete vision of your business to potential consumers. Considering how beneficial Google Places can be to a growing business, you might be surprised to learn that it is completely free. But, helpful though it might be, is Google Places really worth the time? Here are a few reasons why it’s certainly worth considering, no matter what kind of business you operate:
- It Allows You Access to Google Resources: Signing up for Google Places gives you plenty of perks. For one thing, it’ll give you access to Google’s suite of advertising tools. Through these, you can get a great deal more exposure for your business. For example, Google offers you the opportunity to run sidebar ads for your site next to the SERPs for a specific keyword or two. Not only that, but you’ll only have to pay for results. Google’s advertising operates under a pay-per-click system, meaning that you’ll only have to pay a fee relative to the amount of people who actually engage with your ad.
Apart from these features, Google has plenty of other tools to help you on your way as well. For one thing, if you sign up for Places your business is sure to be included in Google Maps, making it far easier for the average user to find your business. You’ll never have to worry about being left out of location-specific searches again.
- It Allows You to Interact Easily With Customers: One of the most powerful advertising tools a business can wield, personal recommendations (or testimonials) about your company can make hesitant or unfamiliar users much more likely to utilize your services. Though testimonials can be requested and are sometimes volunteered, Google Places makes it very easy to create and post reviews, simplifying the process considerably for your clients. However, that does mean that negative reviews can be posted just as easily. No business is perfect, and it’s unlikely that every single one of your customers will be completely satisfied with you work, especially if you’ve been in the business for a while. However, even negative reviews can provide for a great business opportunity. Google Places makes it easy for businesses to respond to the reviews they receive, allowing you to handle customer complaints publically and show that you’re willing to admit your mistakes and work for a client’s satisfaction. This can make you seem more trustworthy and relatable in the eyes of potential clients.
- It Lends Relevancy to Your Business: According to some studies done, ~97% of customers use the web to locate local businesses. That means that if you’re not online, you’re virtually invisible. You can no longer depend on a Yellow Pages listing or even a good location. The fact of the matter is that you have to be online, at least in some capacity. If you’re not, you’d better be very well established. If not, you’re likely to be left behind.
Clearly Google Places is a fantastic resource for any business, but how can you utilize it properly?
- Be Sure Your Listing Has Been Included: Getting listed on Google Places isn’t difficult. The first step is to send in all your information, including any relevant photos or videos, to Google. Next, you’ll need to verify said information so that Google knows it is valid and official. You can either do this be mailing in verification or calling. The latter will be easier and quicker for most users, but both methods work equally well in the end. After that, all you have to do is wait. It may take a bit of time, but it’ll be worth it.
- Provide Accurate (and Complete) Information: This one’s kind of a no-brainer, but it’s certainly worth saying. The whole point of singing up for Google Places is to make your business easier for customers to find. For that reason, you’ll want to provide as much information as possible. Make sure to include, at the very least, a phone number, your hours and your address, as well as what type of business you are, what kind of payment options you accept and whatever other information you feel is pertinent. The more information you provide, the more relevant you will be to Google. Be sure to be as straightforward as possible. Instead of choosing a whole host of keywords in an effort to increase your chances of being found, just choose one or two. Remember, the more closely identified you are with a certain keyword the higher you’ll appear in its SERPs. It’s better to be closely identified with one keyword than tangentially identified with several. Oh, and if any of your information changes for whatever reason, be sure to alter it on Google Places immediately.
- Engage Users: In recent years, Google Places has become much more popular and, not surprisingly, competition among businesses for high SERP positions has increased significantly. To put your business closer to the top, be sure to engage with users as much as possible. Encourage them to post reviews, include sharable content like photos and videos with tags related to relevant keywords, offer promotions and special events to increase interest and always keep your content fun and truly informative.
There's no reason not to take advantage of the opportunities Google Places provides; so get out of the yellow pages era and build a presence on the web.