Have a Local Business? Claim or Update Your Google My Business Listing, Now!

Cooks' Woods Google My Business ListingIf you have a business, you very likely have a Google My Business Listing. Your listing appears when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search and Maps.

Claiming or improving your Google My Business Listing is the singular, most important step you can take for your local business if you want to maximize results from Google Search.

“Why,” you ask? Google says, “Manage how your business information appears across Google, including Search and Maps, using Google My Business — for free.”

The keyword in the previous paragraph is “manage.” There is little a business can control when it comes to Google. When Google makes it easy to post correct information about your business for free, and that information is displayed in Google Search results and on Google Maps, you should take advantage of it.

With Google My Business, you can:

  • Increase your online visibility
  • Show business hours and if open/closed
  • Your contact details are prominently displayed
  • Display photos of your business
  • Publish Posts just like Facebook or Twitter posts
  • Encourage reviews and interact with reviewers
  • Answer customer questions — List FAQs, or answer live
  • Let customers message you

You also can see insights on how customers searched for your business, and their locations at the time of search. You can also see how many people called your business directly from the phone number displayed on local search results in Google Search and Google Maps.

Bottom line:
Claim and/or update your Google My Business listing! It is unequivocally the best and least expensive online marketing you can do.


Bring Customers to Your Door Using Google Offers | For Business

Find Google OffersIn this increasingly mobile world with the rapidly growing use of phones and tablets, attracting the attention of prospects and your current customers is essential. Google Offers | For Business can help bring customers to your door.

Google Offers has been around for a couple of years. Recently, Google is promoting it more, and upgrading tools and delivery systems. Here is what Google says, “Your business benefits from increased awareness when customers find your offer on Google+, the Google Offers website, and mobile apps for Offers and Wallet. The offer can be used instantly, or saved for later.”

We all know that offering coupons and discounts will drive foot traffic to stores. With Google Offers, consumers can find, use, or save offers to their Google account. Google has made it easier to find Google Offers on mobile devices with their new Google Maps and Google+ apps. Consumers can simply click or tap the ‘Get offer’ button to save the offer and use it in stores.

Your offer can reach customers on Google Maps when they are searching for places nearby or looking for local businesses like yours. Your business will be prominently displayed with a blue tag icon next to it, alerting customers to your offer.

With Google’s new tool, you can now, “Create your offer in minutes and see it go live in just a few hours. Simply choose the type of offer you’d like to create and assign a budget.”

Create Google OffersGoogle Offers shows your offer to customers based on their location, what they like, and what they’re looking for. You’ll only pay when a customer saves your offer.

When a customer saves your offer, Google brings them to your door by sharing an offer reminder when they are near your store. Google will help remind them when your offer is expiring too, through email and mobile alerts. It is simple to redeem your Google Offers.

Google says, “You must create and verify a Google Places for Business listing or local Google+ page (it’s free to add your local business information if you don’t already own a Places for Business listing or local Google+ page)”

The holiday season is nearly upon us. Take advantage of Google Offers today!

Google Local Search Results “Carousel” Display

Google Local  Search Results “Carousel” Display was rolled out last week for desktop users. Some iPad and Nexus tablet users have seen this new look since December, but now it will significantly impact a much wider audience and a larger number of local businesses. Here is an example search for Italian restaurants Madison, WI; you will see results similar to these.

Google Local Carousel

Google says “searches for local dining, nightlife, hotels, and other attractions” will display carousel results. Try it for yourself to see what displays in your area.

The “carousel” is interactive, so we all know that those businesses, restaurants in this case, with the most attractive photo or logo are very likely to be clicked on first.

“While we can’t guarantee inclusion in search results, we can say that the carousel will show results from listings in Google Maps using categories. Just as in regular ranking, Google’s algorithms take into account many factors to select the places and results that are most relevant to the user. This algorithm based approach is also used to decide which businesses are in the carousel.”

“The Google business listing is one of several sources we use for the photos in the carousel, and making sure high-quality images are posted to it will help improve your photo. However, the image selection, like the actual ranking of businesses, is primarily decided by algorithms and so we can’t guarantee complete control over the image.”

How do you get your business photo there? It all starts with your Google Places Listing, which we have written about previously. If you currently have a Google Places page (where you can upload photos, your logo, business hours, etc.), Google wants you to “upgrade” to a local Google+ page (some of you may have already done that). There are some advantages including the ability to understand customer feedback and respond to Google+ Local reviews.

In an upcoming post, I’ll write more about the somewhat confusing two types of Google Places pages, help you understand the differences and the actions you can take to maximize your visibility in local searches.

Five Reasons You Should Claim Your Google Places Listing, Today!

If you have not, and many of you have not, claimed your Google Places listing, here are five reasons you should claim your Google Places listing today!

Google Search for Insurance Lancaster WI

1. This Google quote, “97% of consumers search for local businesses online.”

2. Google’s Universal Search results

In today world of Google’s Universal Search results, nearly every time a potential customer does a Google search that contains your community’s name (or the region where your business  is located) and the type of product or service you offer, they will see a Google map with pins on it, and a list of businesses represented on that map. Is there a pin for your business there? There is no easier nor quicker way to improve visibility in Google SERPs, than claiming, and using your Google Places listing.

3. Make sure your listing is accurate and thorough. Did I say thorough?

You may add photos and videos; custom categories like your  service area, brands you sell and how to find parking; and coupons to encourage customers to make a first-time or repeat purchase.

4. Customer Reviews

Google and prospective customers both love customer reviews. You don’t have to do many test searches using Google to see that websites of companies who have several reviews on their Google Places pages, do very well in Google SERPs.

5. It is easy, and takes a very few minutes.

You may verify your phone number, address, and add business hours.  After you have claimed and verified your Google Places listing, you may go back and take advantage of the features.

To make sure the basic information you submit is accurate, Google will ask you to verify it first by entering a PIN that will be sent to either your business address or phone number. (We recommend using the phone number. It automated and is nearly instantaneous as opposed to weeks.)

Now, go claim your Google Places listing!

Here is some help from Google:

Getting started with a local business listing on Google Places

Google Places quality guidelines

Should You Be Using Google Places Tags?

If you are looking for more self-qualified local traffic to your website, and have claimed your Google Places page, you should consider using “Tags” to make you local listing stand out. If you have not claimed your Google Places page for your business, scoot on over to Don’t Lose Your Place – Claim Your Google Places Page!

What are tags?

TagsTags are yellow markers that allow business owners to promote important aspects of their businesses. Potential customers can scroll over tags on Google or click on the sponsored link to view offers, photos, or other select features.

You use tags to highlight information in you Google Places listing. Using tags does not affect your search results ranking, but they do help your listing stand out in the crowd.

What are the benefits?

  • Easily highlight your listing on Google from Google Places.
  • Potential customers in your local area will see what you think is most important or unique about your business.
  • Track the effectiveness of your tag with your Google Places dashboard.
  • No additional work or ongoing management is needed.

What does using tags cost?

Google charges a $25 flat monthly fee, with no bids and no keywords required.

What tags can you use?

The tag types available for your listing are based on information you’ve already included in your business listing. For example, if you want to highlight a video about your business with a tag, you’ll first need to add the video to your business listing. Once you’ve added the video, the video tag option will show up in the menu for your enhancement types. Types of info you may tag:

  • Coupons for your listing
  • Photos of your business
  • Videos of your business
  • Menu for your restaurant
  • Reservations page for your business
  • Posts for your business

Example Place page Posts

  • Specials: “Free chips and salsa today from 4-6. We’ll even throw in free guacamole.”
    Posted 3 hours prior to the start of Afternoon Special
  • Events: “Come to “Anything Goes – Poetry or Prose ” Today from 7:30 pm to 9:45 pm.”
    Posted 4 hours prior to the event, linking to the Facebook event page.
  • New products: “Have you checked out our newest pastries? they are yummy!”

You can only pick one tag at a time, but you can change or remove the tag whenever you’d like.

The bottom line:

If you have a business that depends on local traffic, and it is the type of business your prospective customers search for, you should, as we have talked about before, use your free Google Places listing, and many of you should consider using “tags.”

This should be a no-brainer for many of you.

Read Google Help to learn more about using “tags” for Google Places.

Of course, we are always happy to talk about how we can help you with Google Places tags.