Don’t Lose Your Place – Claim Your Google Places Page!

If you have claimed your Google Places page, please feel free to skip the rest of this. If you have not claimed your Google Places page. Do it! Better yet, talk with the people you trust most with your web presence about why and how. That may be someone on your staff, your webmaster, or your web marketing people. Oh, by the way, if they haven’t been telling you to use Google Local Business Center (before it morphed into Google Places) for the last few years, you should ask them why not.

Why is claiming your Google Place Page important? On April 20, 2010, while introducing Google Places, they said, “One out of five Google searches is related to location.” Seven months later, the frequency of local searches has surely grown.

Google says, “More people search for businesses online than anywhere else, so it’s important to make sure your business listing can be easily found on Google.com and Google Maps.” They obviously believe it, as demonstrated by their blog post, “Place Search: a faster, easier way to find local information.”

After you claim your page, you may enhance the Place Page for your business by adding photos, videos, tags, hours of operation, coupons, and even real-time updates like weekly specials. One of the “features” is “ Reviews by Google users” which presents a compelling reason to “claim” your business Places page. Business owners that claim their listing may respond to negative (and positive) reviews. Here are some guidelines for managing your listing.

When is your Google Places listing displayed? Your listing will display when someone does a search on Google Web Search, Google Maps, Mobile search, 1-800-GOOG-411 voice directory search, or Google Earth. On any of these services, a search directly for your business name and city, will most likely display your listing. If your listing is well crafted, searches for your business category or services will trigger a display of your listing.

There is a lot more to be said, but I’ll just close, by telling you, this is the most important local business search-related action you can take. Google Places is free, and you can easily claim and enhance the listing yourself. Invest a little time, and do this today!

Learn more about Google Places, and remember, Don’t Lose Your Place!

As always, feel free to post a comment or question, or call John at 1-800-281-9993 or 608-822-3750.

One out five Google searches is related to location

Google says, “One out five Google searches is related to location.” Considering that a very high number of SERPs (search engine result pages) will display a map with a list of locations next to it, it behooves every business to take control of their renamed “Google Places” page.

On these pages and in countless recommendations to clients, we have, for years, stressed the importance of using the Google Maps Local Business Center (remember, we talked about using coupons, and Click-to-Call phone numbers) to take control of and optimize what Google displays next to a map when Google users do a search related to location (aka “geographically qualified search”) for your business or a product or service you may sell. As of April 20, 2010, the poorly-named Local Business Center is now named “Google Places.”

As usual for Google, the newly named Google Places comes with several new features. Unfortunately and as usual for Google, the search users and clients they serve in rural, lower-populated areas, cannot take advantage all of the new features. I understand the business decisions by Google to concentrate where they get the most return by targeting large population areas with the most potential customers. That said, I sometimes wonder if some of the people at Google don’t overlook that many areas with small populations and what they have to offer are destinations for those in metropolitan areas. I digress.

Some of the newest Google Places features:

Service areas: You can now show which geographic areas you serve. And if you run a business without a storefront or office location, you can now make your address private.

Others include:

  • A new, simple way to advertise: For just $25 per month, businesses in select cities can make their listings stand out on Google.com and Google Maps with Tags. (Select cities are the keywords here, so this won’t be available to many.)
  • Business photo shoots: In addition to uploading their own photos, businesses in select cities can now request a free photo shoot of the interior of their business. (Again, select cities are the keywords here.)
  • Customized QR codes
  • Favorite Places:

You may read all about it here in Google Pages announcement.

The bottomline is that you should, as before, enhance your listing with the map when it is displayed in Google’s SERPs. Now it is easier and you can do much more with your new Google Places page.

If you haven’t taken advantage of this, all it costs is a little time, and you will get start getting more self-qualified traffic from searches related to location. Sign up today!

Click-to-call phone numbers in Google AdWords local ads on mobile devices

As is the case here, most of the time what we post in this blog isn’t breaking news, nor anyone’s trade secret. It is usually just stuff that makes sense and works. Well this does both.

Many times, when people using their mobile devices search for local businesses, they are looking for phone numbers, not just addresses. Well, don’t disappoint them, When they are looking for a restaurant or a business, serve up a phone number where they can “Click-to-Call.” Don’t lose that opportunity to talk with them!

Google says, “you can make it even easier for potential customers to reach you by adding a location-specific business phone number in ads that appear on mobile devices with full internet browsers. Click-to Call AdsUsers can click the number to call you just as easily as clicking to visit your website. And, since ads can be served based on user location, a potential customer will see — and can click to call — the phone number of your store location that’s nearest to them, not one that’s across town.”

You may display the phone number from your Google Maps Local Business (If you have been reading this blog, you know we feel you should have a Google Maps Local Business listing.) listing by linking to that account. Additionally, you may manually enter a display phone number in your AdWords account.

Customers will not only be able to click (or push) on the number to call, you will be able to track the calls in your AdWords account. Please remember these will only show on mobile devices with full internet browsers, not all cell phones.

Jump over to the Google Inside AdWords to read how to track your callers, and more details about Click-to-Call.

According to Google, “Advertisers who participated in the beta trial have seen improved click-through rates. Plus, many advertisers received more visits to their websites in addition to incremental phone calls.”

If you are thinking this would be great for ads other than local ad delivery, well Google thinks so as well. A few days ago they rolled out their “Enhanced click-to-call phone numbers.” To display your national business phone number on mobile devices with full browsers, follow the two steps listed in this Inside AdWords post.

Just a few clicks on your part, will have self-qualified, potential customers clicking to call you!

Using Google Maps Local Business Coupons

We have talked about Google Maps Local Business before. The feature I want to encourage many of you to use is not new. In fact, it has been around since 2007, but definitely is under-used. I am talking about offering online coupons in your Google Maps Local Business listing. I expect the “under-used” aspect is likely to change as now you can have mobile coupons. Yes, that’s what I said, “mobile coupons.” Google Maps Local Business CouponGoogle says, “This new form of coupon allows your customers to search for savings via phone. A customer can pull up the coupon on his or her smartphone device and present the device at checkout to redeem. It’s easy for everyone!”

With the proliferation of smartphones (I love my Droid Eris.), more of your customers and prospective customers are viewing your websites from a mobile device. Take advantage of it.

If you use coupons in print advertising, you certainly know their effectiveness. Google’s “mobile coupons” have all the same advantages with much less hassle. And, it’s not as likely that you’ll forget your phone as you do the paper coupons as you hurry out the door.

Simple to use, and another way to get customers in the door!

Google – Get Local, Get Traffic Quickly

If you are using Google Maps Local Business Center, you can stop reading. If you are not using Google Maps Local, and your potential customer’s search terms include the name of the city, town, villiage, state, or geographical description of where your business is located, keep reading.

Often, searchers narrow their search results by adding one or more location-specific terms to their search. For example, the search term, “auto dealer lancaster wi” yields the following.

SERP for auto dealer lancaster wi

Who benefits? You get more visibility. The user gets more relevant results with less work. Win, win! Obviously, if you are in a rural area, there normally will be less competition. Consequently, rural business will generally have even better visibility. Even if you don’t get the click that time, it is still branding, branding, branding.

The position of where Google displays the map and listings varies from query to query. Sometimes, you’ll find it directly below one or more “Sponsored Links.” Other times there may be two or three organic listings above it. Or, there may be a video link above or below the Local business results.

So, how do you get listed? It is easy. You may already be listed. Google pulls your address and other information from public data. If you search for your business, and click on the “Directions and More” link. (see example above), you find more info and you will notice an “Edit” link. In the bubble on the map, you will see “Are you the owner?” and a “Claim your business” link.  You’ll need a Google Account, which many of you have. If you don’t have one, you can sign up and follow the instructions here. Note: The street address you enter will be shown in the Google Maps search results.

So, why should you use Google Maps Local?

  1. It gets results.
  2. It is free.
  3. It is easy to use.
  4. Oh, yes. It just plain gets results.

The bottom line is, you get a highly-visible link that most users will notice and click on before they click on Adword advertisements or organic listings.

Bonus Thought: You can safely bet that Google will continue to very aggressively push Google Maps and related advertising in the mobile hand-device market.

Don’t wait. Get Local, and Get Traffic Quickly!