Google estimates that two out of ten searches performed relate to a local business query. With stats like those, at least 20% of your organic search efforts should be continually focused on Google Places (formerly Google Local Business Center). With so many online shoppers preferring to stick close to home and displaying a strong local loyalty, each and every physical location for your brand will benefit from a Places listing.
It can be hard for the small business to get a foothold in the regular natural listings top 10 and even harder to compete with nationally recognized brands on a one-to-one basis. If you do score a page-one listing, you may not even be able to service all of the orders that are generated by this visibility due to an inability to provide a service in other states or the unfeasibly high cost of shipping product to the other end of the country. Google Places, however, gives you the chance to be a big fish in a small pond with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your efforts are being targeted at exactly the right demographic.
1. Claim Your Place
The first step to connecting with local customers searching for your business, products and services is to create your Places page. This gives business address, hours of operation, pictures and types of payment accepted — all contained within a free Google Maps marker. A Places listing is just as appropriate for a business with one store as it is for a business with several offices either locally or nationwide. You can claim your place for each physical location and manage listings from a single account, so be sure to include all locations for maximum Places exposure.
2. Add Address
In order for the Places marker to position you on Google Maps, you’ll need to input the full address of your business location including zip or postal code. Include as much information as possible – including the name of the business or industrial park if applicable and street name. Your address is sometimes used to send a verification request to – your Places listing won’t go live until this is verified.
3. Choose Your Categories
Google will provide suggestions from its own master list of relevant categories. Choose at least two of these before adding your own category descriptions in the remaining fields. In these fields, use keywords so your directory listing is triggered by real users searching for your product or service. There is no need to add a geographical element to the category field as your address will already be used to determine regional relevancy (e.g., Dry Cleaners rather than Dry Cleaners Los Angeles).
4. Describe, Describe, Describe
The description field is your chance to sell your product or service to the search user, beating out the other local listings also appearing. Think about your USP (Unique Selling Point/Proposition), include references to the things you’re best known for, detail the depth of product lines, or include calls to action such as free shipping, complimentary gift wrapping or old appliance removal. The description field should also contain relevant keywords used in the body of the text.
5. Pictures Speak a Thousand Words
Google provides ample space for uploading images and video to your Google Places listing. If you don’t have a dedicated website for your business, adding multimedia to your listing is an excellent way to create a professional-looking page at no cost. These fields can be updated at a later date, but there is no need to wait until you have professional images or broadcast worthy video. Simply take a digital camera and create your own.
6. Tie In With Your Website
Having regional landing pages on your website will help your Places profile enormously. You can even use this page in the website field when completing your listing. If you don’t yet have a specific locality landing page, create one at the same time you do your Places listing. The URL should reflect the locality (e.g.,/dry-cleaners-los-angeles) and the information on the page be optimized for that particular search term. If you are struggling for content to go on this new page, consider detailing the facilities at that location and a little of the history such as when the store or office opened, how large the team is, if parking is available, etc.