Local Online Marketing: Google Places-Have you Staked Your Claim?

Local online marketing is being enhanced by Google. With the implementation of Google Places, Google local search provides more space and emphasis on location. The impact of this change leaves many small business owners confused by their new organic page ranking. Many small businesses that previously organically ranked on the first page of Google local searches have been displaced by the larger map and local listing of up to 7 businesses.

Google continues to out distance its competitors in search engine market share with more than 85% according to Netmarketshare’s October, 2010 report. Yahoo and Bing market share is approximately 6% and 3% respectively. These facts make Google Places the dance floor of choice for small businesses to connect with customers for local search.

Stake Your Claim

To get things started you have to Claim your local business listing in Google Places and verify the physical location by mail or phone. This is just the minimal step. Being thorough may help you become one of the seven businesses listed on page one of Google Places. To complete the process of signing up on Google places:

  • Enter your website and contact email address.
  • Provide at least one photo or logo illustration that displays prominently on Google Places. You can have up to 10 images.
  • Add up to 5 videos profiling your business and service/product offering.
  • Add a keyword rich description for your business.
  • List the primary phone numbers that the public should use to contact your business.
  • Provide the business operating hours and accepted methods of payment.

Additional Steps to Improve your Page Raking

Here are a few additional steps you can take to improve your page ranking in Google Places:

  • Register your business in the major local directories: Yelp, Yahoo Local, superpages.com, citysearch.com etc. This additional directory listing helps improve your business standing with all search engines.
  • Manage your customer reviews, ask satisfied customers to post reviews.
  • Re-examine your keywords and optimize your website for local search impact.

Our Conclusions

The impact of Google Places is not yet fully understood at this point and we also don’t have a clear understanding from Google about the tweaks they’re making to the solution. We do know the dance floor has been changed and we must adapt as small business owners to stay relevant and connect with our customers. Stay tuned as we continue to monitor these and future changes and report the impacts and provide our recommendations.

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