Claiming your Google Place Page listing is imperative no matter whether you run an online or offline business.
Google Places, formerly known as Google Maps, is a fantastic way of maintaining a presence online particularly if you’re a bricks and mortar business without a website. It can provide potential customers, who are more than likely looking for a local service, with valuable and specific information about your exact location, opening hours, photographs, videos, your services and customer reviews. It also allows you to offer customers extra incentives to use your business in the form of coupons.
The process of claiming your Google Places listing is very straightforward. Simply open a Google account and once you have done this and logged-in you need to go to Business Solutions. Under the section ‘Reach New Customers’ you will see a link for Google Places. Clicking on the link will take you to the section where you can claim your business listing.
Many businesses have claimed their Google Places listing but have not made full use of it and as a result it will be of little value. Simply entering the business name, address, telephone number and choosing one type of business category is not sufficient.
Many local searches on Google will now return a first page of results that includes a Google Map together with a list of up to 7 businesses that Google sees as matching the search query. So, for example, if a potential customer searches for ‘Plumber in Manchester’ Google will return results including a list of 7 local plumbers and a map of Manchester and the surrounding area with markers pinpointing the exact locations of each of the 7 businesses.
As a plumber in Manchester you ideally would like to be showing up as one of these 7 business listings. To give you the best chance of doing so you have to make full use of your Google Places listing by entering as much information as possible. If you don’t optimise your listing correctly then you won’t appear in Google Places.
Here are 10 tips for optimising a Google Place Page listing:
1) Specify your company name (it can be useful to include the geographic area you are aiming for as well – i.e. XYZ Plumbing Ltd | Manchester).
2) List your full business address details including postcode (if you work from home you can opt to keep your address private).
3) Add your main telephone number plus additional fax, mobile numbers if you have them.
4) Key in your website details (tick the box if you don’t have one) and your email address.
5) You now have 200 characters to describe your business. It is very important that you include keywords here in the description that potential customers will use to search for your business type and location.
6) The next section asks you to specify categories that your business falls into. This is one area where many businesses fail when claiming their Google Places listing. There is one category box available initially and you see cases where businesses complete this single category box and then move on whereas there are in fact 5 category boxes that can be completed. You have to list your business in one category that matches Google’s suggestions as you type in details. For example as you begin to type in ‘Plumber’ Google will suggest ‘Plumber’ and ‘Plumber’s Merchant’. You can then click ‘add category’ an additional 4 times and enter your own category keywords based on what people are using to search for your type of business including location i.e. ‘Plumbing Services Manchester’, ‘Heating Engineer Manchester’ etc.
7) Choose whether your business provide services, such as delivery or home repair, to locations in a certain area. Here you can opt to hide your address if preferred and choose to show the area that your business services in terms of distance or by specifying actual areas covered using place names or post codes.
8) Specify your opening hours.
9) List all payment options available to customers.
10) Add business/product images (list as many as you can up to a maximum of 10), video (maximum of 5) and any additional details about your business i.e. parking, guarantees, refund policies etc.
As you work through adding information to your listing everything you have completed so far appears on the right hand side of the page together with a percentage. The aim is to complete every section and attain a 100% completion score.
Google has the following help pages to assist you as you progress – ‘Creating a great listing’, ‘Tips to help users find your business’ and ‘Business listing quality guidelines’.
To further enhance your listing and to give you the maximum chance of appearing in the Map and list of 7 businesses on page 1 of Google for your search terms you can add coupons and obtain reviews. There’s a separate coupon tab that appears on your ‘View Report’ page. Creating online coupons helps to give people an incentive to visit your site or contact your business. Invite customers to leave reviews about your service via their own Google accounts. Obtaining more reviews than your competitors gives you the chance of gaining a much better placed listing.
When you have finished completing your listing Google requires you to verify your listing. You can do this by receiving a telephone call, a text message on your mobile phone or via a postcard to your business address. It is far quicker and easier to verify by phone or text. You will be given a PIN number which you simply key in at your Google Places Page.
You can view how your listing looks to potential customers by logging into your account and clicking on ‘See your listing on Google Maps.’
Google also offers a new ‘View Report’ dashboard which gives you important feedback on the number of impressions (how many times users saw your business listing as a local search result) and actions (how many times users showed interest in your business listing) recorded for your listing. This is very useful information that can be used as part of the search engine optimisation of your listing and website if you have one.
If you business is not listed there’s no better time like now. Local business online search is only going to increase in importance and the sooner you grab your position the better. It can attract targeted, free traffic to your business.