While some industries might cater to this more than others (restaurants for example), every business can benefit from connecting with locals. The local sphere is smaller, and although you might have a lot of competition, you have a much better chance of connecting with relevant users than if you just focus on the national Google search engine.
Long story short: This should be a priority for any company looking to take advantage of the online community.
How to Submit Your Site to Google PlacesGoogle Places makes it incredibly easy to get started. In less than 5 minutes, you can get your business listing up and running on the largest search engine out there. Follow the steps below to get started:
Step 1: Visit this link, agree to the Terms, and start adding information about your business in the blanks.
This might seem like more than one step, but it's so quick that clicking the link and agreeing to the terms doesn't need much discussion. You will be asked to type in your email address (use the one you want associated with your listing), and then you're on your way. You will be taken to a screen like the one shown below, so simply fill in your information as best you can:
Step 2: Verify your business, or continue and come back later.
At one point or another, you're going to have to verify your business by mail. This will ensure that your business really is located where you say it is. You will be taken to the screen (shown below). For now, we'll skip the verification.
Step 3: Get started filling out information regarding your listing, AdWords, and other offers from Google.
This is essentially the final section of your Google Places listing, but there are several parts that go into this section. As showns in the screenshot below, there are four options on the left sidebar (the below screenshot is the general "Places for Business" overview tab). You can click each tab to begin filling out information.
As you can see, none of the edits will show up until you have verified that you are the owner of the business (Step 2). Other tabs include listings tab, offers, and AdWords Express.
Extra Step: Get started with AdWords Express.
The AdWords Express tab will take you to a new page where you can create an ad and set your budget. This isn't necessary right away, but those companies using AdWords could really benefit from this feature.
As shown in the screenshot below, there is again a tab on the left with different options and categories. These include select your audience (screenshot shown below), create your ad, set your budget, review your ad, and checkout.
It's as simple as that! Once you're verified, all of your edits will show up and your listing will become a part of the Google Places community.
Next comes optimizing this business listing so that it shows up at the top of a SERP – the same way it works when trying to optimize a website for Google search. A few quick ways to make sure your listing is optimized:
- Fill in all of the information allowed (description, contact info, hours, headline, address etc.).
- Add high-quality, relevant photos.
- Work to improve your number of reviews by making it easy to find your Google+ page.
- Consider using keywords throughout your listing.
- Put your Google Listing on your website and in your email signature.
Google+ Local versus Google PlacesNow that Google+ Local has entered onto the local search scene, the distinction between the two has become confusing. Essentially, Google+ allows companies to have business pages (much the same way that Facebook allows you to have a business page).
This is where your customers and clients can go to rate and review your business. It helps bring your business into the social sphere for more visibility.
You can, however, merge all of your Google Places information onto your Google+ Local page. In short, Google Places can still be used to manage your business listing, but it is Google+ that is likely going to give you all of your engagement. Whether or not Google will completely do away with Google Places is unknown, but for now it seems that many companies can get away with just a Google+ Local account, so the choice is up to you.
Google Places OverviewSo a quick recap of Google Places:
- Google Places is one of the most effective ways to get your website in front of the eyes of relevant and local users.
- You can visit this link to get started following the steps to claim your business. It only takes a few minutes to claim your listing and fill out all of the information needed.
- AdWords Express makes it easy to create an ad for your audience.
- It's important to optimize your Google Places listing by filling out all of the information you can, including high-quality photos, utilizing keywords throughout the listing, and engaging with reviews.
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