I am constantly amazed at the number of small business people I run across who do not know about one of the greatest online tools available for marketing. When I mention the words “Google Places,” I usually get a blank stare in return. For all of you reading who just mentally shrugged, let me share a bit.
Google Place is a free service of the search giant. It is, in essence, your business listing for Google. As of mid-2011, Google owned over 65% of all searches, more than double of Bing (14%) and Yahoo (16%) combined. When someone does a Google Maps search for a business, the results that come up are populated by Google Places. Click on one of those little pins on the map and the page that comes up, hopefully chocked full of info, is a micro-version of their Google Places page.
What makes Google Places so important?
Here’s a few good reasons:
- Search engine results pages (SERP’s) give priority to Places results. Google Places will come in at the top of any given search, thus raising the possibility of being found by targeted customers.
- If someone is searching for a product along with a location name, the chances of conversion are much greater. You’ve probably got a buyer on your hands.
- Even if your website is well optimized, it will always appear lower in the results. Organic search results appear further down than Google Places results.
- It’s likely you will see an increase in customers, as Google Places brings in targeted business.
- And last but certainly not least, it’s free!
According to a recent study, 95% of smart phone users are searching for information about local businesses from their phone. This demographic of users tends to act quickly with over 80% taking action on their search results within one day. 77% of these people call or visit the local business they discovered in their search.
Google Places is designed to automatically format for mobile phones. If you have a Google Places page, this gives you the greatest mobile impact with the easiest interface and greatly increases the chances of customer conversion.
It’s Already There, so Claim it!
Here’s the thing. Google Places automatically generates Place pages. There are over 5 million out there now. Only 2.3 million have been claimed by actual businesses. That’s leaves over 2.7 million Place pages that are unclaimed and basically devoid of information. If you have not claimed your business Place page, you are leaving potential customers out in the cold. Not only will they have a harder time finding you, there will be no helpful information when they do.
If you claim your page, you have the ability to add location information, pictures, contact info, special deals… just about any kind of marketing you care to do.
Google has even integrated Google Places into Google+. Anything you add to your Place page will be reflected within their social media site. That’s nothing to sneeze at, either.
How Do I Claim It?
Simple. Go to www.google.com/placesforbusiness and they will walk you through the process. It involves Google sending you a verification postcard, so it doesn’t happen overnight. Overall, it’s a painless and fairly quick procedure and VERY much worth the effort. If you still don’t think you have time, I can do it for you. In the words of Stargate, “Hey, it’s what I do.”
Does your business have a Google Places page yet? Have you seen any results?