While the internet may reach around the globe, there are many ways that local businesses can take advantage of the internet in their own backyards. One powerful tool for getting local business exposure online is via Google Places, a free service that makes it easy for users to find your business through Google Maps, Google Web Search, Google Earth, GOOG-411 (phone-based search directory), and Google Maps for Mobile.
Your Google Places listing can include a description of your business, address, phone, website link, hours of operation, photos, coupons, and more. Once your business listing is active, you can log in anytime to find statistics about how many times your listing was displayed in search results, how many people viewed your listing, how many clicked on driving directions, and how many clicked on your website link. You will also see a list of keywords most commonly used to find your listing.
How to Create Your Google Places Listing
- Go to http://google.com/places.
- You will need to sign in with your Google account. If you don’t yet have one, start by creating your free account.
- From the Google Places home page, click on “Add New Business.” Google will display search results related to your business. If your business is already listed, click on “Edit” to claim the listing and update the information. If no listing exists, proceed with creating your listing.
- Fill out all of the relevant company details and optional information. Note that Google pays close attention to keywords. When you write the 200-character description of your business, be sure to incorporate relevant keywords that your potential customers might use to find your business. You can also upload photos (including your business logo) and video.
- Under the Additional Details field, take advantage of the opportunity to add even more information about your business such as specific services offered, product lines you carry, areas of specialty for your business, etc.
- Preview your listing and once you are satisfied with it, submit it for publication.
- Google will require verification for your listing. You can choose to do this by phone (you will receive an automated call with your verification code), or they will send you a postcard in the mail. Once you log in and enter your verification code, your listing will be active and you can make changes and add information as needed.
Once your listing is live, you can post announcements to it from your administration page. For example, you can announce an upcoming event, special sale, or other time-sensitive information. Announcements expire in 30 days. You can also create coupons for your profile anytime.
If you own multiple businesses, Google will actually allow you to create up to 100 listings for free. Optional advertising options are also available for your listing via Google AdWords.
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