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Google places, friend or enemy?

So you’re a business whose customers are generally local, and you want to get more people through your door, onto your website, or buying your products and services. If so Google places is something you must look at now! It could become the best friend you’ve ever had.

Amazingly this free service has been around since 2009, but it’s only in the last three months Google has promoted it to provide the top listings in the organic search area on its search engine results pages.

More about the listings in a second, but for now let’s just put ourselves in the place of your customer. When you look for a local service restaurant, hotel, accountant, solicitor, dry cleaner, and the list goes on, what you’d really like is recommendations from people that have already used the service. Within the listing on Google places is a review area so your customers can leave their opinions and thoughts on your service. If your product or service is poor Google places will fast become your enemy. If your product and services are good Google places can generate trust amongst potential clients and therefore more business, and soon it’ll be your best friend!

So why haven’t I already heard of this I hear you ask. If you use Google you’ll have seen it in action but you’d probably not noticed. In the search results have you noticed a map appear on the right-hand side with tags from A up to G in little brown paddles. It has slipped in under the radar however its implications are enormous for local search.

Google places will become your worst enemy if your competitors have done a better job of ranking their listing than you. Google places will only list the top seven or so results for a local area and you need to be high on that list.

So firstly let’s be clear what Google places actually is. It is a search engine optimised listing, which is actually a webpage, of businesses in a local area based upon a local search that includes keywords pertaining to your business. In other words it is just as important to have your Google places listing search engine optimised by professional as it is to have your website search engine optimised.

I have customers that have spent thousands of pounds getting their products and services into the top 3 searches on Google only now to be pushed down to a search rank of 8 below the top seven Google places entries, which of course are the competition.

Now the good news, creating and tuning the perfect Google places entry is significantly cheaper than search engine optimising your website. And SEO consultant can create one or more Google places entries for your business starting at just a few hundred pounds.

That said, your Google places listing will bring potential clients to your homepage and if they can’t find what they’re looking for within a few seconds they will go elsewhere. As part of creating a Google places listing entry you should review your websites homepage to ensure you are converting as many interested prospects as possible. If you want to do this yourself there is a lot of help available at the Google Places help forum.

Google places has built-in analytics which combined with your website analytics can give you valuable information on click through traffic and conversions. With this information you can find tune your Google’s places advertisement to maximise conversions.

In my next article about Google Places I’m going to be giving some simple advice on creating an effective Google places listing and talking about some of the other services Google places offers.

See you then.

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