The first step in creating a listing on Google Places is to check whether or not your business is already listed in the Google Places directory. Google has been having some issues with its Phonelookup function which makes it impossible to get past the “Find business information” page. The problem is specific to Internet Explorer and therefore the solution is to start creating your Google Places listing in an alternative browser – curiously it works extremely well in Chrome.
Once you are using Chrome or Firefox, go to the www.google.com/local/add and make sure that the settings are correct for your country. Input your phone number and click “Find business information”.
If your business exists in the database, you must edit the existing listing rather than create a new one – if there are duplicate listings, neither listing is shown in the results. If you are unable to edit the listing – be patient. Report the incorrect or false listing and then proceed to edit once you have a reply from Google. Go to the listing you can not edit and click on “Report a problem”
If you are able to edit the listing, try to make the listing as complete as possible by utilising all of the categories available. With Google Places you have five categories. One of these must be from Google’s list, whilst the other four are free form i.e. you can create your own. I always use all five categories and never put the location in the free form categories. For example, “halal meat” not “halal meat london”. With the Google Category just use the closest match. With the other categories, try to input the most relevant keywords with high search volume.
Although Google has changed the sequencing of events – particularly with regards to checking for duplicate listings – my previous post on creating or editing business listings on Google is still an excellent resource on the most efficient use of the fields available for completing information about your business.
Google Places is an excellent opportunity to get your business on page one for location based searches, or even for those users who have informed Google of their location. So when creating or developing additional citations for your Google Places page is important to consider the concept of Trust.
Google needs to receive a host of signals that it can “trust” your business listing is relevant and useful to Google’s customers. As a business person you need to build that “trust” by sending the right signals:
o Verifying the listing – Google will always show a verified listing over an unverified one
o Providing additional information that could be useful to users – description etc.
o Replicating your listing across multiple relevant online business directories across the web – these additional listings reinforce the fact that you are a brick and mortar business operating at your address
o Encouraging your customers to write reviews
Remember the “trust” you build up can be broken by:
o The existence of duplicate listings
o Your listing being spammy i.e. very keyword heavy business names or descriptions
o Creating loads of fake listings – either by asking friends and relatives to create fake ones or paying students to do it for you
Back to the old adage… if it feels a bit dodgy, don’t do it. There are no short cuts.