Google Local Business Center is now known as Google Places, and it’s worth checking to ensure that:

(a) you have claimed and verified your listing, and
(b) you are making the most of your listing potential.

I was prompted to check my clients’ listings following an email from Google Places on Friday 13th August regarding email preferences.

Glad I checked, as B2B clients’ listings were fine, but I had to reclaim some B2C clients’ businesses, despite having set them up years ago using the same Google account. I surmise that this is due to the huge volume of ‘noise’ – reviews, mentions, listings – associated with them.

There are also some enhanced tools for business, so here’s a checklist to set up / claim / update / optimise your business on Google Places.

1. Avoid duplication and benefit from Analytics by claiming an existing listing

Search Google Maps for a few permutations of your business name to locate an existing listing before setting up a new one; this not only avoids duplication, but also allows you to access useful historical search and click-through analytics.

If your business listing is not verified on Google Places, ‘Business owner?’ will appear at the top right of the listing, otherwise it will be ‘Edit this place – Owner-verified listing’.

Claim your business on Google Places

Either way, click on the link and complete the information. Your authority to update the listing will be verified by an automated call to your business contact number with a PIN code, which you input as indicated when you have updated all details.

Verify your Google Places listing

2. Complete all details with care and imagination

As well as standard details such as website, email and opening hours, you have some golden business promotion opportunities:

Description: explain the features and unique benefits of your business [a challenge in 200 characters]

Categories: don’t limit yourself to one – add new target areas, or lesser known aspects of your business

Additional Details: in the format of Feature: description, this is listed just underneath your main description text, so it’s a fantastic slot to promote something special e.g. First consultation: free of charge  /  Rooms from: €50 per night…

Image / Video: The first image uploaded is displayed by default, so choose carefully. Avoid stock images (businessmen shaking hands, etc), these are very last millennium. Consider instead custom graphics, product, premises or group personnel images. Videos must be uploaded to YouTube before adding to Google Places.

3. Get creative with coupons and special posts

Although more of an American phenomenon (I’ve heard ‘coupon’ used as a verb on more than one US TV programme), Google Maps coupons are free, so may be worth a shot depending on your business type.

It’s a very simple interface, where you specify headline, details, expiry date and so on of your offer, including options to add an image or offer code. The coupons are displayed alongside your Google Maps listing.

The ‘post to your place’ option allows you to highlight special offers or events [160 characters]  beside your listing; again with imagination these can be used to create a more compelling profile.

That’s it – 15 minutes work for an optimised Google Place listing! 

Google Places listing are displayed at the top of the search engine results as ‘Place page’, particularly for business name searches.

Google Places prominent in search engine results pages

Creating a compelling multimedia listing for your business in Google Places is a matter of minutes, yet a quick browse through Google Places listings shows that many businesses have neglected this free promotional opportunity, with missing information, no description or contact information, not to mention the added details outlined above.

So now that you’ve read this, go forth and optimise!

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I am a digital marketer who has recently returned home to Ireland, following a two-year stint working in Silicon Valley, California. I am an avid traveller, reader and oenophile, always happy to connect with new people, online and IRL. All content (c) Karen Henry 2010-2016