Google Places is a free business listing that is usually generated automatically by Google for any company for which it has a listed location. Even though these listings already exist and very little effort is required to take full advantage of them there are still 50 million, or about 90% of Google Places listings that haven’t been claimed. With Google Places attracting 3 billion views every month if your business hasn’t optimized its listing it could be costing you customers.
The first step is to claim your listing in Google Places. This is a simple process that just requires you to visit the Google Places homepage and follow the ‘find your business’ link. If you don’t have a Google Places listing for your business it is also possible to create one on this page. It will be necessary to verify you own the business and Google handles this either by phone, text message or snail mail. Once your listing has been claimed it is important to make it as complete as possible so it gives potential customers the fullest picture possible of your business. More complete listings also have better rankings in the Google Places SERPs.
It is important to make sure the listing has all of the necessary keyword tags for your niche as well as all of their relevant synonyms and other associated keywords. This gives you the best chance possible of turning up in the SERPs for more queries while also improving the general SEO of your listing. It is possible to upload many photos and even videos to your Google Places listing which is an excellent opportunity to show off your business and its products, and Google also makes it possible to post a detailed profile of your business on your page. Obviously, the fuller your Google Places profile is the higher Google will rank your listing in the SERPs and with the majority of claimed listings being incomplete, doing this alone can get your business into the top ranks of your niche in your location.
Once your Google Places listing is completed, it is still possible to improve its ranking using a couple of simple methods. Because Google calculates the page rank of listings using the number of reviews, to improve SEO it is necessary to have lots of them. While no business wants average or poor reviews, it is still better for SEO to have a lot of average reviews than only a couple of good ones. One practical strategy is to ask your satisfied customers to review you on Google Places and offer them a Google Places coupon as a reward. Because old reviews have less weight with , to be effective asking for reviews has to be an ongoing part of your overall marketing strategy.
It is also important to collect as many citations for your business on the online business directories as you can. Google’s crawlers give preference to some of these directories, like Online Yellow Pages and City Search, because the quality of their information is generally trusted. Creating as many of these listings as possible is usually just a matter of registering with the sites and once you are listed the crawlers should find the links within a few days.
With the boom in mobile internet searches, Google Places will be used by more and more people in the coming years and so now is the time to take advantage of your business’ listing. It is likely that this free service could even drive more traffic to your business than traditional advertising like local newspapers or radio ever would.