Google Places – Route 1 to the Top for Local Business

You may not have heard of Google Places yet, but as a local business owner you are going to become very familiar with it in coming years. You see, Google Places offers local businesses a way to secure a top ranking on Google for many of their most important search terms . . . for free.

Let me explain. Google Places (previously known as the Google Local Business Center) is the area of Google devoted exclusively to recording the details of every business in the world with a physical address.

It uses those listings to populate it’s results when users search Google or Google Maps for geographically specific products and services.

And given that one out of every five searches on Google is location related, that’s a big deal. Particularly when you understand that Google displays a selection of these listings – usually in position # 1 – in a specially formatted map presentation on the main search site that has high recognition amongst consumers.

This is the highly coveted ‘7 Pack’ . . . so called because Google includes a maximum of seven businesses in this box.

Claim Your Free Listing

In practice, many business owners will find that Google already has a listing for their business in Google Places (do a search on your business name and location to find out). It populates these default listings with details from other business directory partners.

However, it is imperative that you ‘claim’ your listing for two very important reasons:

Firstly, until a listing is claimed by the business owner, that listing can be edited by anyone and there have been many reports of unclaimed listings being hijacked by spammers, competitors and crooks. Claiming your listing will help to prevent this happening to your business.

(If you think this couldn’t happen here in New Zealand, think again. In February 2010 Napier florist Kendra Drinkwater was convicted of unlawfully editing the Google Local Business Listings for six of her competitors in a bid to divert potential customers. You can read details of the case here).

Secondly, by claiming your listing, you can optimize the listing in ways that give you a better chance of winning (and maintaining) a spot in the coveted 7 Pack results for Google Search.

The same optimization strategies will also get you a better ranking for searches carried out on Google Maps directly.

(It’s important to note however that these strategies and techniques are quite distinct and different from those required to rank well for orgainic search on Google ie search engine optimization or SEO).

Having claimed your listing, you can add/edit a range of information:

  • Business name, address and contact details
  • Business category and description
  • Fix an incorrect map location marker
  • Business hours, payment methods accepted
  • Service area (specify by post codes or a radius around your address)

Note that home based businesses that typically service customers at the client’s location (think plumbers, builders, real estate agents etc) can also take advantage of Google Places . . . you don’t have to have a physical shopfront that clients visit.

In fact, such operations are specifically catered to with an option to hide the business address . . . handy for those who don’t want to publish their home address on Google Maps. In this situation, you simply specify a service area around your address.

Validate Your Listing

The last step in the ‘claiming’ process is to validate your listing. You must confirm you are the business owner by entering a PIN code that will be delivered to you via a phone call, text message, or post card using the contact info you provided for the business. (You simply choose the method you prefer).

When you are done you’ll be able to see how visitors who click through from your Google Maps listing see your full details on your dedicated Google Places Page.

And again, all this is free . . . you don’t have to pay Google a cent to host this listing and you can maintain it yourself. However it’s typically only those businesses that go the extra mile to optimize their listing that top the rankings.

Let Us Help Your Business Rank Higher in Google Maps

We have a deep understanding of how the Maps algorithm works and the factors used to determine the rankings of local business listings. We even have a few tricks up our sleeve on how to optimize your listing for maximum effect.

We can help give your business a boost in the Maps rankings and guide you on how best to mantain your rankings over time.

So give us a call (027 3933 100) or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.

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