Google Places for Businesses is one of the most important business listing sites available to help your company get found online. 97% of consumers search for local businesses online and Google Places for Business help your business share hours, address, contact info and photos with your customers.
For many businesses, the Google Places listing is adjacent to the business website in search and at or near the top of the first page, so customer ratings and reviews are highly visible and very influential on customer decision making.
According to Google, “[it] uses data from many sources to compose local business listings. Each listing includes information from one or more sources, such as third-party providers, user edits, and verified business owner records.” While Google Places allows you to create free business listings, don’t confuse Google Places with its more robust advertising program (that is not free) called Google AdWords. In addition Google has an “offers program” that allows you promote discounts to your customers – also not free, but highly targeted for local businesses.
Google Places for Businesses help make things simpler for management by including an updated dashboard that allows you to expand your business listing, adding graphics and additional descriptive features. For example, you can add facts about your business, address and other information. The updated dashboard also allows you to add or change that information as applicable. In addition, you can provide more photos of your business – which is especially important if your business is product-driven and you have new merchandise, etc. you wish to promote or highlight. Your map information will be updated in Google Maps as well.
Don’t confuse Google Places for Business with Google+ Local for Business. Although the two are integrated, Google+ Local is a social network for a business to post updates and share information online in real-time. With Google+ Local
With Google+ Local, visitors can:
- Get place recommendations based on social circles, previous reviews, and location
- Publish reviews and photos of favorite places
- Read Zagat summaries of business reviews
- View the local Google+ page for a business to read reviews, photos, posts, and other useful information
- Find reviews from people in a user’s social network and trust highlighted in your search results
More about Google+ Local for Business in a future post!