Take Your Place
Let Google's Power Work For Your Business
Free exposure for your business on the biggest search engines is an absolute must for any company wanting to become the Big Fish in their local or niche market. Google Places is quickly becoming online what the Yellow Pages were in the 1970s, especially with its presence on mobile devices.
Google Places is based upon location. Twenty percent of all searches involve a location. It makes sense when you think about it. We don't search for "automotive repair." We search for "automotive repair Arlington Texas." Taking advantage of this can give your business a lot of free exposure. And the exposure is specific to your market segment, which means the potential customers doing the search are highly motivated. You can't beat that!
Setting Up For Success
Setting up your Google Places page is easy. Log into your account (or create one) and click on the link for "Google Places". You will see a form like the one pictured to the left. Fill it out. When you get to the field that says "category" start typing in the sort of business you have. A list will be generated. If necessary, click the "Add another category" link. Google allows you to add up to five categories. Let's assume that your business is car repairs. You may want to set up categories for "brake service", "transmission service", "scheduled maintenance", and "tires". Think carefully about what are the key areas of your business.
Continue filling out and submitting the form with all of the necessary information. Be complete. When filling out the information regarding your business phone number make certain it is the primary number for your business. At the end of the registration process ask Google to verify by phone. (You can ask to have a postcard sent to you, but doing this by phone is quick and easy and can be completed immediately.) Google's automated system will make the call immediately with a PIN number. Use this number to verify your account.
Check your listing for accuracy. In particular, make certain Google Maps has your business located properly (more on this in the Case Study that follows). The map is on the right-hand side of the screen while you are in your account (see below). If Google's mapping is incorrect your business will not show up properly when live. To change the map location there is a link below the map on the right side. Click it and drag the pointer to the correct location.
Google is not the only listing service for local business. Yahoo!, Bing, CitySlick, and Yellow Pages all offer similar services. Each of them works in a similar manner and requires nearly identical information. I have focused on Google PLaces because it is the biggest. Also, with the increased usage of smart phones it is becoming more and more important to have a presence on Google Places.
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