There is a tendency among some of us Internet folks to take certain knowledge for granted. In my conversations with local business owners across the United States and Canada, I have sometimes been guilty of using technical terms and industry jargon as though they were common knowledge. Most business owners understand the importance of being found on the Internet, particularly on Google, but it has become clear that not everyone has a concrete understanding of what a Google Place Page is. The way I usually put it: Google Place Pages are one of the most important local business listings on the Internet, and if you have not claimed your listing and verified the information, it is worth doing so. Here are a few basics to help you get started with your Google Place Page:
If you own a local business with an established physical address, the odds are pretty good that Google has already created a Place Page for you. So, if you have not already, find your listing and claim it. Probably the fastest way to find your listing is by merely going to maps.google.com and entering your phone number. Once you are in your Place Page, there will be a link in the upper right that reads “Business Owner?” If you click that link, you will be asked to sign into your Gmail account. If you don’t already have a Gmail account, you will have to set one up.
Once you are in, you will be presented with the option to edit your listing. Upon completing that step you will be prompted to select one of two validation methods. You can have Google either call the number listed on your Place Page, or you can have them mail you a postcard to your business address. If you do not already have a Google Place Page, you can create one here: http://www.google.com/places/
When it comes to filling out the business information on a Google Place Page, the two keys are completion and accuracy. Enter your business information as completely as possible and add content such as photos. Make sure your name, address, and phone number are accurate, but note that some changes can take several weeks to take effect. And, it is very important to include the URL to your website for search optimization purposes.
In terms of accuracy, it is important to resist what is known as “keyword-stuffing.” That means if your company name is, say, Customer Lobby, list your name as “Customer Lobby” without stuffing the company name field with service and location keywords, even if they are accurate. There is a temptation to fill out Place Page information in such a way that it helps your listing rank higher in local search results, but Google’s search algorithm may actually penalize listings that stuff keywords. Likewise, avoid listing every conceivable service that you provide in your company description.
Google Place Pages have reviews, but only Gmail users can write reviews in Google. This is tricky because only a small percentage of people in the United States have Gmail accounts, and inviting a customer to write a review for you is one thing, but asking them to create an email account to write a review can be a hurdle. Google does display links to third-party reviews sites at the bottom of the Place Page in the “Reviews From Around the Web” section. To optimize your presence in Google, it is important to get both Google reviews as well as reviews on other third-party reviews sites. Customer Lobby created a Smart Invites platform last fall to direct all Gmail users to our clients’ Google Place Pages.
Customer Lobby is currently hosting a series of Webinars on ranking higher in Google local search. Just click the yellow “Register Now” button in the column just to the right of this blog article to reserve your place now.