A couple of things to know about Google Places and local search before we begin:
- You need a Google Account to be able to set your listing up. If you don't have one, please go to google.com/accounts and set one up
- Once you have set up your listing, it can take 3-4 weeks to go live as Google need to verify that you are a real business. They do this by sending a PIN to the address you specify, which you have to enter into your Places account in order for the account to go live
- Google Places is also Google+ Local, so your listing will be live across Google+ too
This is a super-simple guide as to how you can get started with this quickly, thereby increasing search engine exposure for your small business within just a few hours (please see this post for more organic SEO tips).
Setting Up Your Google Places Account
The first thing you should do is go to google.com/places and click on the 'Get Started For Free' button, as per the screenshot below:
When you sign up and begin the set-up process, you will be taken to a page that will ask for your location and business phone number in order that Google can see if there is already a listing for your business. Even if you haven't set up a Google Places account, it might be that there is a Google Maps listing for your business that you aren't aware of:
After you have done this, Google will search it's database for matching records. If there isn't a matching record, you will be presented with a new page containing form fields that should be filled out with relevant information for your small business.
The page is really straightforward and easy to fill out, so I'll just highlight a couple of areas that might help you do so below:
Service Areas And Location Settings
This part of the form looks like this:
So, if you're business has a fixed location and your customers come to you, then you just leave this set at 'No'. You would choose this if you matched the kinds of example businesses below:
- Coffee Shops, Bars and Clubs
However, if you operate a business where you serve your customers at their locations, you would click the 'Yes' button, which will then give you the following options:
There are many types of business that would choose this option. For example, if you worked in any of the following fields (or similar) you would most likely choose this setting:
- A business consultant who works in client premises
- A beauty therapist who treats customers at their homes
- A wedding services provider
- A tradesman or tradeswoman, such as a joiner, painter or decorator
What if you work from home and want to keep your address private? You can do so by clicking 'Do not show my address on Google Maps', which will mean that the first line if your address will not show up on your listing.
Also, another thing to keep in mind is that you should be reasonable when completing the 'Distance from one location' or 'List of areas covered' fields. It might be tempting to try and incorporate the whole of your country here, although that's not being 'local' and Google will almost certainly not approve your listing :-). Just go with the areas that your actual business serves.
The rest of the fields are pretty easy to fill out, you just fill out details specific to your business such as:
- Opening times
- Methods of payment accepted
- Any other useful information, such as brands carried etc
- You can also upload pictures and videos to enhance your listing
Completing Set-up Of Google Places For Your Small Business
After you have added all of the required information, you simply press 'Submit' at the bottom of the page. After that, you will be taken to a screen that looks like this:
Then, all you do is click 'Finish' and wait for your verification PIN to arrive in the post - it's as easy as that. Google Places and local SEO can be an extremely important part of your overall small business marketing strategy, so it's well worth putting in the relatively small amount of effort it takes to get it up and going.
Thanks for reading!
By Alan MacDougall