Local search is one of the fastest growing trends in search marketing. Local search allows users to search for business listings within their geographic area. Google has taken advantage of this with Google places. You might have noticed that a majority of your search results have started looking something like this:
In the near future a majority of what you see on the first page of your Google search results will be Google places listings. Organic results will not show up until you scroll to the bottom of the page or possibly even click over to the second page. How often do you keep scrolling to the second, third or fourth pages of Google results. If you’re anything like me, and I’m going to take a gander that most people are, you probably don’t even scroll past the first page a majority of the time. In fact, some research shows that approximately 95% of site traffic from search engines is generated from first page results (http://www.icrossing.com/research/the-importance-of-page-one-visibility.php). But even if your SEO efforts have achieved you page one spot one in organic search results, you’ll still be fighting for attention below all the Google places listings. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to create a Google places page
To claim your business listing on Google places and start showing up in local search, you need to first visit http://www.google.com/places and select “Get started” under the Get your business found on Google heading. Select the country in which your business is located and enter the accompanying phone number. If your phone number matches another company’s, you will have the option to choose from that list or “Add a new listing” and start from scratch. Then you’ll fill in your company information including whether you service your customers at their location or they come to you, hours of operation, and payment methods.
Once you fill in that information, you’ll notice that your location is pinpointed on the map. Adjust where the pinpoint lands by selecting “Fix incorrect marker location” under the map. You are also given the option to upload photos and videos, as well as provide additional details such as whether your facility provides parking and what brands you carry. The more complete your Google places page is, the more likely you are to show up in local search results.
After filling in all your information and uploading photos and videos, click “Submit” at the bottom of the page. In 2-3 weeks Google will send you a postcard to verify that you provided an accurate address.
There will be a 5-digit pin number on that postcard that you will need to enter in your Google Places account in order to publish your page. Sign back in to your account and, under the “Dashboard” tab, enter the pin to verify you are the business owner.
Once the verification process is complete, your Google places listing will be published and will start look something like this:
I hope I’ve given you the tools you need to set up your Google places account and begin experimenting in local search.
Now get started!