Google Places is an often overlooked marketing tool for local business owners. The reality is, Google Places has an enormous amount of power – and it’s growing. Not only is Google Places a great place to get new customers, it’s also free.
Read on to find out why you should pay attention to Google Places, as well as what exactly you should do to improve your Google Places rankings.
==> Why Is Google Places Important?
First, Google uses Google Places data to supplement their search. If you search for “Pho Noodles Chicago,” what’ll come up are local Google Places results, not traditional search results. In other words, if you want your business to come up for local searches, which are the only searches that really matter, you need Google Places.
Second, iPhones and Android phones both use Google Places to find businesses on their Google Map applications. With hundreds of millions of these devices in circulation, it’d be foolish not to cater to them.
Finally, Google Places itself gets a lot of use. People use it to find directions, to get to online menus, to see pictures and to figure out if they want to visit a business in person. Paying attention to Google Places will allow you to craft your online first impression.
==> How to Boost Your Google Places Ranking
Getting a great Google Places ranking requires getting a few crucial things right.
First, improve your Google Places listing. Claim your business if you haven’t already, then add all the information you can. Add your business hours, address, phone number, website, menu (if applicable), photos and so on. The more complete, the better.
Make sure you use the same phone number as the one listed on your phonebook listing.
Next, try to get other websites to talk about you. Start with review websites like Yelp and Citysearch. Also make sure you’re on the various other local business listing sites, like your Yellow Pages and Super Pages.
Try to get other sites to review you. If you’re a restaurant for example, contact food bloggers and food reviewers to review your restaurant. Ask the food section of your local newspapers to come by.
All of this helps build up your credibility in Google’s eyes. It will generate both backlinks and “citations.” Essentially, the more people who talk about you, the more likely you are to rank highly in Google Places.
Finally, do everything you can do get positive reviews on Google Places. Ask your fans to review you. Ask your friends to review you. Make it a point to have more reviews than anyone else in your category.
Once you’ve done all of these things, give it a little bit of time. Google Places doesn’t update instantly. Instead, Google wants to take a little time to make sure you are who you say you are. Once you’ve built up your credibility, slowly but surely your Google Places ranking will improve and more and more people will find your business.