iMarket Solutions Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Google Places’

Google Places has been replaced with Google+ Local! What does this mean for local business owners?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

There have been a lot of changes at Google lately. The recent search algorithm updates have definitely changed how people searching on the web see results and find exactly what they’re looking for; this latest Google announcement is no different.

Earlier today, Google announced the merging of Google Places into a new aspect of Google+ called Google+ Local. Over 80 million Google Places pages have already been automatically converted to the new Google+ Local format, and more will follow.

The new format is much more user-friendly and will help your business be represented in a more powerful way. Of course, as with any change, you probably have some questions.

What does this Google+ Local announcement mean for your business?

The new Google+ Local listings are a way for you to begin to manage your local business listing with Google in a more meaningful way. Many industry experts believe that this will help solve some of the issues with listings needing to be reclaimed or corrected as often due to inaccurate information.

Is it going to be more work for you?

Not at all. If you are an iMarket Solutions client with ongoing SEO services, we will continue to manage your Google+ Local page just as we have with your Google Places listing. If you do not have ongoing SEO or are not an iMarket Solutions client, contact us to learn more about how we can help!

If you like to be hands-on with your local presence on Google, you can continue to manage your Google+ Local page through your normal Google Places login. Google does recommend that you create a Google+ Business page as they will soon release a way to connect the Business page with the Google+ Local listing. iMarket Solutions will be working on this process for our SEO clients.

Will I lose my reviews?

Your reviews will be migrated over to your Google+ Local page. The reviews will be attributed to “A Google User” until the owners of the reviews verify their old reviews can be attributed to their identity on Google+ Local. The good news is that Google will ask users to do this now that Google+ Local is rolled out.

Google will now be incorporating the 30-point review system created by ZAGAT (which Google acquired in September 2011). Reviews will be moving away from the star system to this new scoring system.

Will I lose my photos?

The photos that were part of your Google Places listing will remain part of your Google+ Local page. If you have user-uploaded photos, they will be migrated the same way as reviews.

Does this change how potential customers find my business in Google?

Your potential customers will be able to search for your local business as normal, and their experience will remain consistent whether they are searching in Google, or on Google+, Google Maps, or through mobile apps.

Other changes to expect…

  • You will be able to develop followers and interact with them through posts and messages on your Google+ Local page.
  • The new Google+ Local page is more visually interesting with photos and reviews given a more prominent location.
  • A new “Local” tab has been added for Google+ users making it easier to find local businesses like yours.
  • Google+ Local pages will be integrated throughout all Google search properties.
  • Users will have a more personalized experience with the integration of Google+ Circles to help highlight businesses that their friends and family have recommended. This means if you have a customer who has recommended you, their online connections will be more likely to see your business in a search for services you provide!

Overall, the migration of Google Places to Google+ Local appears to be a positive change for local business owners like you. Please do contact us with any questions about Google+ Local, or your overall SEO strategy for your website. We are happy to help!

For more information on the Google Places change to Google+ Local, we recommend Search Engine Land as a fantastic source of up-to-the-minute information!

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Serve your customers off site? Time to hide your address in Google Places!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Google has stated that for businesses that service their clients off-site at a client’s home, or “on the road”, the address in Google Places should be hidden. As an HVAC, Plumbing, or other on-location service provider, your business falls into this category. This is definitely a big adjustment but one that is necessary for your optimum success in Google Places and local search overall.

Show your address or hide your address?

Prior to the last few months, it has always been key to have an address showing on your Google Places listing. This was one way you were optimized for the searches in your area for your business. However, we have been noticing some changes in ranking factors, and have had these changes confirmed with Google’s latest update to the Google Places Guidelines, as well as prominent industry information.

Google’s newly updated guidelines state, “If you don’t receive customers at your location, you must select the ‘Do not show my business address on my Maps listing’ option within your dashboard. If you don’t hide your address, your listing may be removed from Google Maps.

While we know that you are used to seeing your address on your Google Maps / Places listing, we are sure you don’t want to risk your listing being removed! If you are an iMarket customer, we have already begun to make this change for you.

What if my business has a showroom where clients do come to our location for service and purchases?

If you have a showroom, we can leave your address visible; however, in the future it may be something you want to change. We believe that Google is making this change across all verticals that are known for primarily serving customers at their homes or office locations, not at your brick and mortar address.

We are definitely doing some testing to determine the best course of action for clients who have a showroom. Let me know if you have a showroom and we can discuss your listing.

What if I have (or wanted to have) multiple Google Places listings for different addresses?

We are no longer recommending that you have multiple listings. On a single Google Places listing, you can specify your location and any additional cities / areas you serve. We have 2 options for this:

  • We can list all towns you service one by one.
  • Or we can select a certain radius (in miles) surrounding your location.

Both options will enable you to come up for searches in the areas you service without the need for a separate Google Places listing in each city or region.

If you have multiple Google Places listings we are recommending the additional ones are deleted so that Google does not have to remove them as spam. Remember, Google may remove the one you wanted to keep, and leave up your others, so it’s best that we choose to remove the right ones, and optimize the best one.

What can I do to help my Google Places page rank better?

You can add photos and videos to your Places listing as a start. If you’re an iMarket Solutions customer, you can send your photos and videos to us and we’ll take care of it for you.

Another post is coming soon with even more information about local ranking factors – stay tuned!

We realize this is a lot of new information, so please contact us with any questions you have! iMarket Solutions is 100% committed to you having the most successful online presence possible, and everyone on our team is happy to help you achieve your goals!

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Does Your Business Have a Place in Google Places? It Should!

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

You may not be familiar with the term “Google Places”, but if you’ve ever used Google to hunt for a local business, you’ve definitely seen Google Places in action. When you search for a local business or type of business, you’ll get Google Places listings at the top (or near the top) of your search results. The listing consists of the business name (or several names, if you searched for a type of business), along with a map of your area with red “teardrop” markers showing where each business is located.

Each Google Places listing has two links. If you click on the “Place Page” link next to a business name, you’ll be taken to Google’s Place Page for that business. The Place Page contains contact information and a link to Google Maps directions. If you click on the name of the business, you’ll be directed to the business’s website or, if the business doesn’t have a website (or hasn’t registered its website with Google) to a “Google Places” page with basic information about the business.

There are also a lot of other cool options on Google Place Pages. For example, on your Place Page you can list your opening hours (very helpful to potential customers); your service area; payment options that you offer; and other information of your choice (for example, as Google suggests, you can let people know if you offer parking, and which brands you carry). In addition to this information, you can add photos and videos to your Places Page, or post to your Google Places page like you would to your blog.

It’s fun to set up a Google Places page for your business, but is there a business case for doing so – and for adding “extra” content like photos and videos? Absolutely. On Google Places, like everywhere on the web, fresh content is king: the more information you provide on your Google Place Page, the more active and competent your business will appear, and the more confident people will feel about contacting you.

Plus, the more complete your Google Place Page is, the more likely it is to move up in the search listings. At iMarket, we make sure that all our clients have complete Place Page listings for optimum Google performance.

Here’s another good way to assess what the ROI might be on any work you choose to put into your Place Page. Do a search for your business type in your area (for example, “electricians Burlington VT”). Check the Google Places listings that come up and take a look at whether your competitors appear in the listings and if so, how much information they offer on their Place Pages. If you offer more information on your Place Page than your competitors do, you’ll have a leg up as consumers consider their options and decide whom to contact.

Since 85% of consumers search for local businesses on the web, you’ve probably already realized that having a complete Google Place Page is likely to generate a lot of leads. So, you ask, how do I get a Google Place Page?

Well, your business might even have a Google Place Page already, because Google often generates basic Place Pages by harvesting information that is already out there on the web. You should do a Google search for your business and see if a Place Page comes up in the listings. If it does, then it’s time to beef up your Place Page. Go to your Place Page and click on the “Business owner?” link in the top right corner. You will be guided through the process of validating and adding information to your Place Page. (To confirm that you are in fact the owner of your business and not a hacker or a competitor, Google will send a postal letter to your physical address. This letter will contain a PIN number that you can use to make additional updates to your Google Place Page whenever you wish.)

If you don’t have a Google Place Page, you can register for one here: http://www.google.com/places/. Note that you will have to create a Google account first if you don’t already have one. However, if your current Google account is for personal use, you will probably want to create a new business account for use with your Place Page. Among other things, having a separate business account will mean that other people edit your Place Page without reading your Gmail.

Google Place Pages have a lot of great features and can really help your business bring in new leads…but what’s the ROI? Are they worth it? You better believe it. Google Place Pages are FREE.  Google doesn’t charge for setup or make you pay a monthly fee. There is absolutely no excuse for not having a Google Place Page.

Google Place Pages also contain another very important feature: consumer reviews. Google Place Page reviews have been a hot topic recently. We’ll explore it in next week’s post.

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