During the month of September here on the Webs blog, we’re going to be talking about leveraging local marketing opportunities for your small business.
We’ll kick things off today (and Friday) with one of the single most important things you can do if you are the owner of a brick-and-mortar operation: setting your company up on Google Places For Business.
Points of Clarification:
Before we start talking about how to get the most out of your business’ Google presence, we need to clarify few things. Since Google itself is an ever-evolving landscape, they sometimes end up with products that are just similar enough that they are easily confused.
First, a Google+ page is your business’s home on the Google+ social network, which was intentionally created by you. This works much like a Facebook Page or LinkedIn Company Page. These pages feature an about section, photos, videos, and posts created by you or whoever runs managers your page.
Now a Local Google+ page listing is sort of the collection of things that Google knows about your business, combined with mapping services. When you find a listing for a business through a search Google Maps, and you click “more info” you’ll come to a its local listing page. These pages are formatted similarly to a Google+ page, but are not always created by the business’s owner. These pages feature an about section, photos, scores, and reviews.
Finally, Google Places For Business is a general hub where business owners can manage various services for their local listing, like their local Google+ page itself, as well as offers from their business.
Note: If a business has a Google+ page and then claims a Local Google+ page that’s been created about their business, the two pages will be merged into one big magical Google+ page once the ownership is verified.
Getting Started with Google Places:
The first thing to do is make sure you in fact have a Google+ personal account (don’t worry, you can set it to be totally private if you don’t want to use it socially.)
– From your Google+ profile, click the Home dropdown and select Pages.
– Click the blue Create a Page button. Click the Local Business or Place category, enter your business phone number, and click locate. This step will search to see if your business already has a listing on Google that you can claim and verify as your own so Google doesn’t end up with duplicate listings for you.
– If your business does have a listing, claim that sucker. This allows you to control the information that Google provides about your business, and also respond to customers leaving negative (or positive!) reviews.
– If your business does not have a listing, add it to Google now. You can then add all the necessary basic information about your business, choose the appropriate category for your listing, what you do, etc.
– When you’re done with all that, click create, and voila! You now have a local Google+ page.
Already have a Google+ page (the social network kind) for your business? Once Google verifies your listing, the two should be merged.
A Local Google+ Page Example:
To show you how your new local business listing will appear, let’s take a look at the Google presence of my personal favorite Mexican restaurant in nearby Washington, DC.
If I do a standard Google search for Casa Oaxaca, I’ll see a robust listing to the right of all the standard Google Search results. This includes the information that the business owner provided, as well as scores and reviews from patrons.
Now, let’s say I’m hungry and I’m in DC. I search for restaurants nearby, and Casa Oaxaca pops up as an option. Intrigued, I click more info on the location balloon.
This takes me to their local Google+ listing.
Note that they do not have a Google+ page, so this listing only has the tabs About and Photos along the top.
Now that you know what a local Google+ page is and how to set yours up, the next step is to make sure you’re getting the most out of the tools available through Google Places for Business. We’ll tackle that topic on Friday!