Google Places Listing and Optimization for Your Business

Get On Google My Business

Formerly known as Google Places, Google My Business is Google’s answer to the good old yellow pages, and yes even if you haven't made a dime, you're going to want to be found on Google My Business. Somewhere along the way, Google realized that a lot of mom-n-pop shops really don’t have time (or knowhow) to build a strong web presence. Yet they deserve an easy way to be found in their search engine. That is, after all, what Google’s #1 job is: to make sure people easily find what they are looking for. And of course, people look for local businesses and organizations on the Internet.
You can only have a Google My Business account if “you make in-person contact with customers" according to their guidelines. So if you are running a 100% online business where you never meet with customers, then we suggest you go to another chapter.

So What is Google Places Exactly?

Google My Business is simply a Google account any business can sign up for. It’s completely free. Once you sign up, you will be asked to fill out your business information such as address, business description, and contact info. 
When someone uses Google and performs a geographically based search, Google will display the results of local businesses that match the intention of the searcher’s query.
Here is an example:
Google My Business: The telephone book of the 21st Century
Google My Business can deliver amazing results for business owners that have a local place of business.

Disadvantages of Google My Business

There is one issue that you need to be keenly aware of: spam, spamming and spammers. You see, spammers have realized the power and potential of Google My Business. They quickly learned that exploiting it can bring in wonderful free traffic from multiple entry points. 
The way they did this was they would create fake addresses all over the geographical territory they wanted to cover to gain multiple spots in the search result. Google has since made Google My Business very difficult for spammers and has probably gone overboard with who can and can’t show up in the results. This brings us to Google Rule #1:
Rule #1: Don’t ever think you can pull a fast one over Google. Just play by the rules and you’ll usually end up better off.

How to Sign Up for Google My Business

The first thing you’re going to want to do is to sign into your Google account (Gmail, Google Plus, etc.) and then go here.
Go ahead and fill in all the pertinent information about your business. Be sure that you are accurate. A good tip is to copy and paste the information from your website so that you don’t make any entry errors.

Really Important Details that You Need to be Aware Of!

Google My Business is a great thing for business owners, but you have to be very cautious and play by their rules. Here are some important tips you need to be aware of:
  • Use your actual business name as the name of your business. We know this sounds very obvious, but certain people are going to try to sneak in keywords in this field which will just get you banned from Google My Business.
  • Do not use a P.O. Box or virtual address as your business address.
  • Don’t make more than one Google Places account for your business.

What if I am running my business out of my house?

This is okay, but you have to be very careful here. If you don’t allow people to visit your residential address for business, you must hide your address.  
If you don't conduct face-to-face business at your location, you must select "Yes, this business serves customers at their locations" under the "Service Areas and Location Settings" section of your dashboard, and then select the "Do not show my business address on my Maps listing" option.
We really emphasize that you follow these specific instructions laid down by Google. It will determine whether or not you show up.
We also highly recommend that you read through Google’s guidelines on Google My Business – just to be sure you’re not planning on doing something that will get you banned from their results.
Now here is the most important part: Your Category.
Before you begin, don’t fill out just any category, make a list of you're top three most important categories that describe your business. Then prioritize that list and enter your first and most important category into this field. 
Your category might not auto-complete, so spend a good amount of time trying to find the category that best describes your business. We can’t stress enough how important this step is to get right. It will determine what kind of customers Google will send you, essentially, you’re telling Google who you want to visit your website or call you.
Finally, Google would like to know if you drive or deliver items to people in multiple geographical locations. 
It is really important for Google to know if you are a business on wheels. This checkbox is their way of knowing if your business is in compliance with their guidelines. So if this fits your business, then check it. Remember, if you’re running a home-based business and you don’t allow customers to come to your home, then you will have to check this box. Otherwise, you can’t have a Google My Business listing.
Soon you will get to a step that asks you to verify your business. 
The easy way out is to verify by phone. But, don’t do that. We highly recommend verifying by postcard because it signifies to Google that your business actually exists at the location you say it does. That’s really important for them to get right, and so if you do the mail verification, we have this belief (and other search engine professionals do too) that you’ll be rewarded for this extra wait.

Getting More Traffic from your Google My Business Listing

Finally, here are some tips to optimize your listing so that you can open the floodgates to local traffic giving you more visitors to turn into perspective and ultimately paying customers.
  1. Spend the time to fill out your Google Places profile to completeness.
  2. Add photos and videos of your business.
  3. Write lengthy descriptions.
  4. Encourage customer reviews and feedback.
  5. Integrate with Google+

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