Submitted by: Nick Jerrat
The use of search to source local services has exploded in recent times, in part driven by the new features of search engines to easily locate local businesses.
Google Places provides the
easiest and quickest
way to be listed near the top of a Google search for location specific keywords. As such, it is important to take advantage of your free business listing in Google Places.
Google Places allows you to easily add a one-page business listing using a simple web interface. You can add photos and videos to your listing and you can edit your business information anytime you wish. You can also add your business description and business categories. Google Places gives your business a
basic online presence
even if your business does not yet have a website. Your Google Places listing is used in Google Maps and local Google search when people type in keywords relating to your business.
Creating a Google Places listing is easy. Visit http://www.google.com/places and follow the instructions. In some cases, your business will already be listed. If this is the case, you may claim your listing, check and edit business details and add additional details. You will be asked to verify your business information via mail, business phone or mobile. Google sends you a confirmation PIN which you can then use to verify your listing.
Managing your business listing
Once your listing goes live, it is important to manage it and keep it up-to-date. Here are some tips on how you can maximise the visibility of your Google Places listing:
Provide complete and accurate information
To help users and visitors find you easily,
make sure that your location is placed correctly on Google maps.
During setup, you may drag the map marker to your exact business location. Make sure your physical address points to a precise business location. You can also check the Google street view image to see if your business is shown. Google removes listings with PO boxes as these are not physical locations. If your business has a website, list your official business website because Google may use information from it to improve your search results. You may also provide information such as phone numbers, opening hours and payment terms.
Finally, you should add
photos and videos
to make your listing really stand out.
Include keywords and business categories
When adding your business name to the top of your listing, make sure to not include any marketing taglines, URLs or keywords, as your listing may not be approved. You may include any taglines or keywords below the heading in the business description field. For example, if your business is a restaurant in Sydney, make sure you include the search terms ‘Sydney restaurant’ and ‘restaurant in Sydney’ in your 200-character business description.
Take some time to choose the most
appropriate and specific business category
for your listing. You may select a category from a list that Google provides or you may enter your own category if you don’t see one that matches your business.
Ask your happy customers to review your local listing. Getting good reviews – in addition to accurate business information, keywords and categories – may improve your rankings in local searches. Make sure that you respond to your reviews too!
Follow Google Places Guidelines
Make sure that your listing obeys the guidelines set by Google as violations may suspend access to Google Places or other Google Services. You may view the guidelines at http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=107528
Some final words
Google Places is a free service every business should take advantage of. In some cases, it can result in a top of Google ranking for local searches, without the efforts needed to obtain a Google organic search listing. The best way to secure a high ranking in Google local search is to manage your listing well and maximise all the options and fields available in the listing with your business keywords.
About the Author: Nick Jerrat is the founder and Managing Director of
, provider of innovative web design and web marketing services. He has worked with several businesses and clients across Australia including Tony Gattari of