[box color=”blue-vibrant” type=”square” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]
Google Places can be an invaluable marketing tool for your business, no matter how big or small it is. As a matter of fact, studies show that over 97 percent of all consumers looking for a local business use a search engine like Google to find it. If you want to take advantage of this massive market, then you need to have a Google Places listing. However, it is also important that you optimize your listing in order to reap the full array of benefits offered by Google Places. How do you do this? You start with a complete and detailed listing. Here are five essential components of a good Google Places listing:
Your Google Places score. Google scores your Places listing – up to a 100 percent – based on how complete your listing is. Ensure yourself a top spot in the Google rankings by scoring a 100 percent on your Google Places listing. This means putting information about your business in every single blank in your listing information.
Photos and videos. Google Places allows you to upload images and videos to your listing. You should upload as many as Google will allow for, as studies show that Internet users are more responsive to images and videos than they are to textual content.
Positive business reviews. Encourage your satisfied customers to write reviews for your Google Places listing, so that people evaluating your business for the first time – going solely on your Google places listing – will be more likely to choose you over the competition.
Keywords. Using keyword-rich content in the body of your business listing information will improve your listing’s SEO and ultimately get it ranked higher in the search engine results. Take some time to research strong keyword phrases, and be careful not to overuse them. Consult with an SEO professional if you need help in this regard, as using keywords appropriately can be a bit tricky.
Third-party directory listings. If you are not taking advantage of third-party directories, you should be. Sites like Bing, Yelp, Yahoo! Local Business, and Foursquare actually link back to your Google Places listing and can therefore get it ranked considerably higher on Google search engine results. These business directories are free to use, and are an integral part of the overall success of your business’ Google Places listing.
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