Does your business listing stand out to potential customers in their local searches? According to recent statistics, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online.
Search engines like Google and Yahoo recognize this and have created Place Pages which can easily move your business to the top of the search results. Your larger competitors have probably spent a lot of time and money on SEO to show up at the top of a Google search. By creating a Google Places or Yahoo Local page you have an opportunity to bypass the competition and show up right at the top of the search results page, even if you are a brand new business.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of the Google Places and Yahoo Local features, it is important to remember the following five tips:
1) Bad Information Is Worse Than No Information At All – According to a study by Search Engine Watch, up to 25% of the time, critical business information (phone number, hours, location) in local listings is wrong. This can seriously damage a business’ credibility and lose potential customers before they’ve even engaged you. You can avoid this by claiming your Place Pages and consistently updating your information on Google Places and Yahoo Local.
2) Customers Favor Reviews! 63% of shoppers are more likely to make a purchase after finding user-generated reviews about a product or service. Google Places and Yahoo Local allow users to add reviews about a business, thus increasing your online reputation. Ask your existing customers to write you a positive review in exchange for a coupon or free service.
3) Optimize your Place Page – Complete and accurate local pages will lead to greater website credibility with a search engine’s robots. Because Google and Yahoo use complex algorithms to decide where and how information is displayed, it is important to make sure that you have included all relevant keywords and categories for your business. Optimizing your Google Places page is another way to show searchers that Google values your business and dramatically increase traffic to your website and physical location.
4) Google Places Links with Google Maps – One major benefit of place pages is the connection to Google maps and smartphone users. 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information online. Once your business is listed on Google Places, it will appear with a “pin” on Google Maps. Smartphone users can then expand that pin and either call your business or get hours and directions. Verifying that your address information on Google Places is correct will ensure that you don’t have a bunch of lost customers going to the wrong place.
If you are a business that does NOT service clients directly at your location – BEWARE. Google has a new policy that prohibits businesses who do not service clients directly at their locations from having a physical address listed on Google Places and Google Maps. Google has begun calling businesses and asking them if they service clients at their location. If the answer is no, your Google Place page will be removed. To avoid this, all the business owner needs to do is make sure that they select the “Hide Address” option in their Google Place page as quickly as possible.
5) Add Visuals! People like pictures. Uploading pictures and videos to your local pages can have great added value. Photos will allow your customers to gain a visual of what your business looks like and perhaps help them find it. Make sure that when you attach photos and videos you include keywords in the meta data. By claiming your place page and uploading your own photos you decrease Google’s reliance on 3rd party site (i.e. Hotels.com) to supply photos of your business. This ensures that outdated or incorrect photos will not be used on your Place Page and that prospects stay focused on your business and not get redirected to some other site..
Once you have created your local pages, you want to make them more popular than the local listings of your competitors. Google ranks Place pages according to relevance to a searcher, distance, and prominence. Now that you have satisfied relevance and distance, your goal is to increase your prominence. This is based on how much information about your business Google or Yahoo can find across the web. Take the next step by listing your business across the web on search engines, online yellow pages, social networks, and directories. Learn more about the importance of online business listings.
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