Forming A Social Media Strategy: Utilizing Local Directories, Part Two – Google’s Places for Business

Forming a Social Media Strategy: Claim or Create your Online Business Listings

I’m Ready To Begin Creating And Reclaiming Online Directory Listings!

Now that you have completed the steps outlined in the first part of this post, it is time to begin creating and/or reclaiming online business directory listings.

Where Should I Begin?

In December 2012, website ranking company Alexa declared that google.com is the most visited site in the world. Despite efforts by competing search engines like Yahoo!, Microsoft’s Bing and Ask.com, Google is still the dominant search engine used by a majority of Internet users in the United States. No matter how big or small your business or organization may be, or in which regions or markets your business or organization operates, all individuals, businesses and organizations should sign up and be listed in Google’s most popular directory services, including Google search results, Google Maps, and Google+. Fortunately, Google has created a listing service – Google Places for Business – that is designed to consolidate and simplify this process.

Google Places For Business

The only requirements for using Google Places for Business is you must sign up for a Google Account and your business must have a physical address and a unique phone number. If you use Gmail or any of the other Google Apps for Business, you already have a Google Account. If you have purchased a Google advertising service in the past, it is possible that you already have a Google Account as well – If you are a Google AdWords customer, you can use your AdWords login and password. The easiest way to determine if you already have a Google Account is to visit http://accounts.google.com/ and sign in. There are links to a password recovery service and help articles if you need assistance.

Verify Your Business Listing

When you first log into Google Places for Business, the service will ask you to enter your basic business information. Remember, each listing must have a unique phone number. Google will verify your main business phone number and if it finds an existing listing, Google will require that you “reclaim” the existing listing(s). Google will then require you to verify your listing by entering a PIN number that can be sent via mail to your physical business address or to your main business phone number. Once your listing has been verified, you will receive an on-screen verification.

In our previous post, we discussed the importance of creating a uniform list of your contact information. It is now important to ensure that you have as many fields completed in your new or reclaimed Places for Business listing as possible. It is also important to include stock photos of your business and create a link between your Places for Business listing and your Google+ profile. If you are an individual or small business that caters to clients within a specific geographical area – such as a restaurant that delivers food or a mechanical specialist that services equipment within a specific zip code – it is important to list this information in your profile so customers and potential customers who utilize Google Maps will be able to find your listing more easily.

Congratulations!

By completing this relatively simple process, your business listing will now appear within Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+. You will have complete control over the information listed and can login to update it at any time. While Google derives the majority of their profits from advertising, they do not charge for this basic listing service. However, you do have the option to purchase advertising services from Google using the Google Account connected to your Places for Business listing.

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