Last year Google made an important search engine update that integrated Google Places listings (ie Google Maps listings) within the organic search results. Businesses that did not have a Google Places listing found that their rankings for location-based keywords fell out of the top 10 spots in Google instantly. Conversely, businesses that did have a Google Places listing suddenly found themselves on the first page.
Any business that wants to rank for location-based keywords (eg mortgage broker sydney) must setup a Google Places listing for their business. Here is the step-by-step process of doing so…
1. Go to http://www.google.com/local/add/
2. Use a business email address. Register a business email with Google accounts and then access Google Places.
3. Check for your business listing. Search Google manually to see if a Google Places listing has already been automatically created for your business. The listing will appear in Google Maps and inform you if the listing is an ‘Owner-verified Listing’. If it’s unverified you can then claim the listing and update the details accordingly.
4. Enter your business address and details. It must be a physical street address as PO Boxes are not accepted within Google guidelines.
5. Choose the ‘Areas Serviced’: this is the section that makes Google Places vital for all businesses, not just shop fronts or restaurants. Businesses have two options here… Either you are a business where all customers come to your location, in which case you select ‘No, all customers come to the business location’. Or, if you are an online business or a service provider, select the second option ‘Yes, this business serves customers at their location.’ You’re then able to select either a distance from your business or the areas and states you service. This will then impact the areas and locations you are visible for when people search for your services.
6. Optimise your listing with keywords: these can be added to the Additional Details section. Your listing will not meet Google quality guidelines if keywords are inserted into the Business Name or Business Address, or locations are added to the Categories section.
7. Add enriched content: pictures and videos will add value to the listing and provide the end user with the optimum information. Up to ten pictures are allowed, one at least should be your logo and the remainder can be products / services or images related to your business.
8. Verify your business address. This can be done by phone, only if the business phone number listed is a non-automated line and an individual is able to record the PIN delivered by Google’s automated calling system. Alternatively, the address will require postal verification; this can take up to three weeks in Australia for the PIN to arrive.
9. Complete. Enter the PIN number delivered to you by Google and the listing will be live.
10. Update with offers, deals and adverts. When you login into your places account, you can see that you can write updates that are visible for a 30 day period. Make the most of these and market specials or incentives currently in place at your business.
Google’s guidelines are strict and your listing can be penalised or removed if it is crammed with keywords or if multiple listings are created for the same business, when a location does not exist for multiple areas. If your business moves address, the listing will need to be submitted again to Google.
So what are you waiting for?