Spend any real time in the small business marketing world and you’ll quickly be inundated with new services, new tools, new updates, new features and new things everyone thinks you should be aware of. As a result, it’s not always easy to decide what truly demands your attention and what can be written off as background noise. For that reason it’s possible that when Google Place Pages was first released a few months ago, you ignored it. And if that’s the case, it’s time to reconsider your position.
Last week I had the privilege of attending SMX West in California and one hot topic on the tip of everyone’s tongue was the importance of Google Place Pages and their effect on SMBs. Why should you worry about Google Place Pages? Below are four good reasons.
1. Your customers are looking for you online: While at SMX West last week, Gregg Stewart of 15 Miles noted that 20 percent of all searches on Google now have a local intent, and that number is even higher when you look at searches performed on mobile devices. SEO expert Bruce Clay later predicted that in two years 70-80 percent of queries will have a local result on the page (!). That’s pretty significant and offers a good indication of where things are going. Searchers are headed online to find local businesses and, thanks to personalization, Google is showing local results even when a user doesn’t specifically ask for them. Users are looking for your business online and one of the best ways to help them find you is to claim, optimize and enhance your Google Place Page. By ignoring it, you make it harder for customers to do business with you. Why do that?
2. Google Places acts as a one-stop-shop for your brand: One reason some small business owners aren’t too friendly to Place Pages is that they resent Google decentralizing their information and pulling people from their core site. Unfortunately, that’s exactly why users like these aggregate pages. They like being able to check out one page and see all your vital information. Embrace it and give users what they’re looking for. Because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how a user finds your address and phone number…just that they do and that you’ve excited them enough to use it.
3. Google loves (to rank) Place Pages: Thanks to some Google algorithm changes, Place Pages have been given significant search prominence. That means whether you like them or not, they’re showing up, and potential customers are stumbling upon them. As a savvy business owner, you must do your part and help those searchers find you by completely filling out your Google Place Page. I know it’s a little monotonous to always be filling out those little boxes all over the Web, but you’re being asked for a reason – Google is using that information to rank you. Fill out everything, be careful when selecting your business category, and include as much information and (keyword-rich) details as you can. The more complete (and keyword-rich) your profile, the better.
4. Google Places connects third-party sites: You know the information being posted about you all over the Web? Much of it is being aggregated and displayed in your Google Place page. That means what’s out there about you for your business – all the reviews, the associated images, the business information, etc. – is getting more attention than ever before. If you don’t know what’s out there about your brand, Google Place Pages provides more incentive for you to find out. Take this time to make sure it’s all accurate and consistent.
Above are just a few reasons why Google Place Pages are becoming synonymous with local search engine optimization. If you haven’t invested serious time in claiming your Google Place Page listing and optimizing it, run (don’t walk) to go do that right now. This is not an area that you can put on the back burner until you “have time” to tackle it. Google is serious about local search, and your Place Page just may be the glue that brings it all together.
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This is one of those small tasks that people just need to put in their schedule and get done. The ROI of building out your Google Places Page is much higher than a lot of marketing activities.
Great article and great points that need to be stressed, I actually wrote a piece about Google Places Optimization about a month ago. I agree with Robert about the ROI. As Google is the king of search, sites need to do everything they can to appease the king. Building out your Google Places Page is a big part of that.
Google Places often forms my starting point when I work with small business owners. I believe it’s an absolute must, especially as it’s still free (at the moment) to set up.
It can even give visibility and an online presence to those small businesses that don’t have a website yet.
Great post. Although claiming your Google places page has so many benefits it is still neglected by many business owners. And a tip to boost your google places page: get reviews!
Love this post, Lisa. The only tough thing is for those of us working from a home office and not wanting to use our personal address. Google Places won’t accept a P.O. Box, right? So, I need an office address…
I agree with you, Robert — the ROI on this is huge, especially if a lot of your customers are carrying smartphones. Search for that person is hyperlocal. They key in a term, the result that comes back is for that exact spot or area. I’ve set up 3 sites this week with mobile options on their wordpress site/blog. It’s easy and not costly, why not get it done!
Great post Lisa. I’ve been doing a lot of work with Local optimization over the last couple years and strangely it is still a significantly overlooked piece of internet marketing by most businesses.
One thing I would add is how important it is to make sure that you are keeping your business information consistent across the web. Since Google aggregates data from various websites it can cause serious headaches for some business owners when they start to see 2,3, or even 4 different listings in Google Places that have been created from various online citations that have variations in the address information (e.g. suite vs ste vs #). As a rule of thumb I always tell clients to start with the Google Places listing and then copy your business information directly from there everytime you create a new listing somewhere.
Lisa, you may be interested to know that in the UK around 40% of SMBs haven’t even claimed their Places listing. This makes it relatively easy to get your Places listing showing on the first page. I’d recommend some of the services like Bright Local and Get Me Everywhere for people that are time short and want the NAP (name, address and phone number) to be consistent. I also see that Groupon reviews are now being used by Google as a citation!
Google Places works wonders – especially when your competition isn’t using it. I have heard some home based businesses using the address for the local Starbucks or equivalent business to avoid using their home address. Then say, By Appt. Only to avoid a bunch of drop ins. I’m not sure if it’s totally ‘legal’ is Google World, but it would work…
Best free lunch on the Internet I say. Places is quick, easy and effective.
I find that Google Places remains one of those areas that is totally overlooked beyond verifying the profile.
So many companies think that this is all they need to do and tick the box marked “done”.
Time just isn’t invested in creating a decent profile.