13 May Get Lost and Then Get Found, Online
As has probably been mentioned multiple times throughout the Internet, the phone book is dying, and the new way to be found is through Internet search. Now a question a lot of small businesses might have on their mind is: “How can customers find me, and know how to get to my brick and mortar location?” It’s a great question and our friends over at Google have designed and built a great search option called “Google Places.” It’s an excellent tool, and like most products built by Google, it’s free!
According to Google, 97% of all consumers are searching for local businesses online. That is a lot of potential clients, and all of them want to find you. How can they though if you don’t actually have a “places” listing on Google for your specific business? This may seem like a daunting task for those that are not too familiar with the inner workings of the Internet. Luckily you have me to help you get your business online, and start bringing in more customers to your door.
The business we will be promoting using Google Places is Over The Hill Parties which does over the hill parties and serves most of northern Utah, so a a 60 mile radius from Orem, Utah should be adequate. The companies website is www.overthehillparties.com, their phone number is (801) 610-6607 , a description about the business was written, and we also have an email address for potential customers to contact Over The Hill Parties. Depending on the type of company you are going to be submitting and their goals, you might also need other pieces of information such as: coupons, days and hours of operation, event dates, pictures, videos, food menus, etc.
First head to the homepage of Google Places and sign in with yours or the company’s Google Account. If you don’t have one, it is free and doesn’t cost anything. This will allow you to access tons of tools and a free Gmail account. It should take just a few minutes to set up, and it will then redirect you back to the places homepage. Click on the “Get Started Button” and it will take you to claim your business listing.
Anyone can post a business onto Google Places and Google a populated their Google Places database with millions of businesses from other data sources such as the internet, so your company information might already be within their directory. Click on “List Your Business” and Google will now take you through some simple steps to first search for your business, through your phone number, and then if it doesn’t find your business it will ask you to fill out your company information into their system.
One of the most vital pieces that a lot of businesses neglect is what category they should use to specify their business.
Using our example business we see here that I have categorized the business as an Entertainer, Party Equipment Rental Service, and Over the hill parties. The first two categories are categories that Google has created. These are vital in helping you rank for the correct type of business in a Google Search. Below these I have placed the custom category. Google is not perfect (although some may believe that they are) and may not have a category that is as specific as you’d like. You can add up to five categories to the business profile.
Pictures and Videos can also be added and will help in giving your business more legitimacy as well as things for potential customers to look at. Then the last thing you want to add is specifics about what products you sell, special interests for customers such as free parking, free samples, etc. Hit the submit button when you are finished (you can edit this after you have submitted the information if you find another problem), and you are taken to the next screen.
Either you will be given an option to have Google call you with a PIN to verify your information, or such as what has happened here with me, they will send you a postcard to your business address with that PIN. Once you have either verified the PIN through a phone call, or hit Finish, you will then be taken to the Google Places admin section where you can manage your listing as well as others if you have more than one location. If you are like me and need to wait for a postcard, it can take two to three weeks to get to you, but once you get it, you come back to this management area and enter in the PIN to verify you are the owner of this business. Once that is finished you are done, and your site is now going to be posted on Google.
Congratulations on taking this first step in increasing your visibility online through Google! I say first step because this is an ongoing process that you are going to need to work on as time continues. Google is always striving to find the most up to date and relevant content in any of its search quires. It is up to you to show Google that you are the best business in your industry. How do you do this you ask? The answer lies in citations. A citation is where your business is listed in other local business directories. Places such as local.com where people can find your business, post reviews, and build links to your website. Each of these citations adds more validity and confirms to Google that you are an important business within your industry and location. Slowly over time, like how most things work in SEO, your ranking on the Totem Pole of Google Places listings will increase.
As you can see here typically Google will have listed A thru G the most relevant content to a local search. Citations, a full and complete Google Places Listing, and customer reviews all add more overall value and will help you reach the “A” status of your industry.
This is a great tool and free resource that Google offers for local businesses. Local Search is the new way of finding businesses online. The amount of people searching for your services and products is growing exponentially every day. All it takes is a little know-how, time, and patience.
We here at Boostability offer a great service to help you with building your Google Places listing, keeping it optimized, and finding places where citations can be built if you are feeling you may need some help. Contact us today if you have any questions at all.