When a location is input as part of a search phrase on Google a collection of local businesses appear in the search results. The data for these listings is feed from the Google Places directory. How do you get your business listed in those results? How to make moves to improve your present position within these types of results? Follow these tips on how to create and promote your business listing on Google Places.
Step 1 – Plan / research key elements of your business listing
- Think of a clickable business name
Your natural instinct will be to input your business name. Hold fire because it pays to be more descriptive and to add additional elements to your business name. If you are a butcher, it might pay to add elements like ‘halal’, ‘kosher’ or ‘wholesale’ to attract customers looking for these specialised services.
Gabbotts Fram offers cooked and fresh meat so “Gabbotts Farm Cooked and Fresh Meat” might attract more clicks. Littlewoods offer locally sourced meat and have a deli counter – maybe “Littlewoods Butcher & Deli – Locally Sourced Produce” offers a competitive advantage. Whatever, it pays to include possible selling points or better descriptors so as to get clicks from people more inclined to click on the services that you offer but be careful not to go overboard (click here for further advice).
- Decide what are suitable categories for your business
The categories are very important as they tell Google which terms to show this listing for. By using categories to tell Google what your business is about, it knows to show your listing for localised terms containing those or related phrases. Google requires users to enter at least one standard category but the other categories are free form – meaning you can put in any relevant phrase that you like.
Ideally you want to use descriptive phrases that have a high search volume and are relevant to your industry – this type of research should be part of your overall online marketing strategy. In the butcher example, the mandatory search phrase might be “butcher” / “butchers” with selected phrases like “organic meat” in the other category fields. Google’s Keyword Tool indicates that there are over 4400 searches in the UK for “organic meat” with “halal meat” getting over 22,000 UK searches a month. Clearly if you offer these products, you want to get exposure for these terms so add them to your listing.
Step 2 – Ascertain whether you need to claim an existing listing or create a new one
An unverified Google Places page for your business might already exist as Google frequently draws data from other directories, like Yell.com, to make the Google business listings as comprehensive as possible. To maximise your effectiveness in local search you need to verify the data – as Google is more willing to show verified listings over unverified ones. You also want to ensure you are not creating a duplicate listing. To do this you need to search on your brand or company name (plus the location if you are a branch or franchise).
The example below needs to be claimed as you can see from the link in the top right corner which says “Business Owner?”.
- Search Google for your business on Google
- Go to place page
- Check if verified
- Click on Business Owner? Link
- Go to http://www.google.com/local/add
- Click add new listing
Step 3 – Start to input details
- Select country & input your clickable, relevant company name
- Fill out your contact details
- For the website field input the URL of the relevant local page of your – not the homepage (if applicable)
- Input a description of what your business is – bear in mind this is for people with little knowledge of your business
- Input categories (based on the research you have done in step 1)
- Click submit
Once you hit submit, you will be taken to the following screen which gives you the option to claim a listing or add one. This is the final check to see that you are not making a duplicate entry.
It is very important to carefully check whether you have to claim or add a listing as duplicate listings have a negative effect on whether or not your listing is shown in the results – how is Google to know which is the correct listing? It doesn’t so it doesn’t show either of them.
Once you have confirmed the right course of action, claim or add your listing.
Step 4 – Add addtional details
You will be taken to a page that asks you to fill out additional information such as opening times etc. Fill out as you see fit then click submit.
Step 5 – Verify the listing
You will be taken to a page that asks you to fill out additional information such as class times etc.
- Fill out as you see fit.
- The final step is to verify the listing by phone. Make sure you are at home and click verify.
- Google will then call you with a five digit PIN
- Input the PIN within the Google Places interface
Google is an information provider which is trying to provide the best service for its customers i.e. people performing searches. As a result Google is trying to provide the most relevant information that provides a good experience for the end user. Google is therefore more willing to show verified listings that have as complete data as possible. So when completing your listing try to add as much detail as possible – videos, photos, etc., if relevant, can raise the profile of your Places page.
As mentioned the verification process builds trust with Google that the information is correct an up to date. To build on this trust you should increase the number of directories listing your business services, it is important to make sure these listings are up to date and reflect the data on your Google Places page. Each of these business listings act as a citation which improves the trust Google places in the relevancy of the data on your Google Places page and therefore pushing your Places page higher in the local rankings.
A good way to get more content on your Places page is to try to emulate the activity of your competitors and/or to encourage your customers to provide reviews – on Google Places itself or other services like Yelp. You need to be careful for two reasons:
- You don’t want to spam your customers and upset them
- You don’t really want Google to know and therefore penalise or remove your reviews
Try to include a request for a review in your sales process – remind customers of the option to review your product or service on delivery or when you send the receipt or confirmation. If you are lucky enough to work in an industry where you have a ongoing relationship with your customer base, try to include requests for reviews on Google, etc. as part of your after-sales care, in newsletter, etc.