You can’t just hope to be found
One of the most iconic movie phrases of the 1980s came from a whisper – “If you build it, he will come” – from Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner. In the movie, Costner’s character built a baseball field in his cornfield, and, as a result, was visited by the ghosts of baseball past.
Sadly, for us folks in the 21st century digital age, it isn’t as easy as building a website and expecting our desired visitors to come. It takes more work than that.
Luckily for us, search engine behemoth Google does all that they can to help us get found by our targeted audience. That’s exactly the premise behind Google Places (once known as Google Local Business Center).
Google Places Benefits
Google Places does more than just help you get found on the web. It puts your information front and center for your potential customers, with enriched snippets such as Maps, ratings and more. In an online climate where “local” truly is king, Google helps you target your audience by matching your Places information with the location of web surfers.
It also gives you the ability to change your information (like store hours, contact information) with ease. As our world becomes more mobile, it’s vital that your business be easily found on a laptop as it is on a smartphone. Google Places helps get you found on all devices, which is why it’s so important that you submit your site to Places.
The 5 Minute Google Places Setup
1. Signing up with Google Places is as easy as going to the site (google.com/places) and clicking on the “Get started for free” button.
From there you’ll be taken to a map of the good ol’ US of A, where you have to agree to the Terms and Conditions of Google Places. You also have to agree that you are, in fact authorized to manage the business.
2. Next, you’ll do what Google does best … search. Before you register your business with Google Places, Google wants to make sure that your business isn’t already on their listing, so they’ll ask you to search for your business. Chances are that your business isn’t on there, but you’ll find some potential matches (from across the world). Assuming you don’t find your business on there, you can click the “No these are not my businesses, Let me create my business” button.
3. From there it’s time to submit your business details, including name, address, and category your business falls under. You also must let Google know if you deliver goods or services to customers from your business location.
4. Once you complete your information, you’ll be told you have to verify your information, via a postcard. You can choose to verify later, which will take you to your Google Places page. But any changes you make on that page won’t appear until you verify your business, so it’s worth your while to just verify now. A postcard will be sent to the address you listed in roughly 1 – 2 weeks, with a PIN that you have to provide to Google. One constant complaint from businesses is that the postcard is often construed as junk mail, and so either they, or someone in their office, disregards the mailing. Google has made it possible for you to add an “ATTN” line to the mailer. Thus, if you fear you may need that extra layer of security to keep your postcard from the trash, do it.
*NOTE: Your PIN is only good for 30 days, so be sure to enter your PIN in your Google Places account as soon as you get it.
5. Once you okay the verification process, you’ll be taken to the same page that you would have been taken to if you chose to verify later (see, we told you it was worth verifying now). here you can begin to make changes to your Google Places page, including hours of operation, a description, special offers and more. Again, these won’t be made public until your PIN is entered, but this gives you a week or two to prime your page for its public launch.
Chances are you’ve heard the term SEO before, which is a marketing tactic aimed to increase your rankings on searches. While thousands of dollars can be (and are) spent on this venture, taking a few minutes of your time to sign up, for free, with Google Places, can help catapult you to the top of the page for web surfers looking, in your area, for what you have to offer.