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Google Places – Key Marketing Strategy for Local Businesses

By jrcrayne, GTD News
Saturday April 2nd 2011

Difficulty in reaching new customers.

The Internet has been huge in helping businesses get their message out there.  One of the main strategies is using search engine optimization.  But over time, trying to master SEO is tough.  It is a moving target.  Google, Bing, Yahoo, all change their algorithms to counter people gaming the system and now what did perform for you stops working.  I know they all want to produce the best results for people using their site, but it makes ranking well a moving target.

Then, as the Internet went from being a “FAD” to a real venue for advertising, competition and junk increased.  It can be hard to separate yourself from the junk for your customer.  Well, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook and others have a great solution.

“Places” is born

I’m going to talk about Google Places specifically, but all the main sites that have any kind of advertising offers something similar.  If you want to jump to more information now, visit Google Places Training.  They have a training video that covers this in more detail.

Google Places to the rescue!  Google did something really great.  They used their huge database and systems to recognize businesses online.  Then, they created a website for each.  Yup, it’s already done.  So what is Google Places and how do you find your site?  That is simple.

Google Places is a site that hosts a web page for all businesses Google could identify and more that people have entered.  It contains contact information, map and location based tools.  Yes, customers can see a map of where you are located.  They can even see reviews your current customers have written about you.  This is all before you even claim your page.  To claim your page, go to www.google.com/places and sign-up.

Google has  a lot of tools and resources in it’s arsenal.  What they did was tie them together to give people a better online search experience.  They noticed that about one third of all searches are location based.  They contain a zip code, city, state, or some other location based information.  That means 10 of millions of searches a day are by people looking for a product or service in their area.  I wonder how that compares to the traditional phonebook.  I’m putting my money on the new tools.

Now, instead of recreating the wheel, they went and just tied into current review sites.  These are sites people have been using for years to review services and products.  Guess what, if someone typed a review on one of those sites, and Google thinks it is related to your business it shows up.  Now this really is powerful.  Word of mouth is the best advertising you can have and you don’t have to do a thing, it is already working for you.  You also get a good insight to what your customers are experiencing.  You get the good and the bad.  This does bring up a subject that you might not know how to handle.

Online reputation management.  If you want to stand out from your competition, you need to be doing this.  They are.  Places gives you a view into your customers that you might not have.  It will allow you do address issues you might not have known about.  This is a great starting point to get a handle on your online reputation.

What does it take for you to get a coupon or offer on your current website?  How many people view it?  Is it something that draws them to your location?  Is there something else they would rather have?  Well, places address these questions too.

There is a free offers section.  You can create an offer right there on your Places page.  This could be a printable coupon or just an online ad.  Or, if you so desire, send the person to your current website, Facebook page.  It is all there for you.

How about reporting.  Can you under stand your web statistics?  Do you know what to do with them?  Well, Google Places’ Reports give you insight to how people found you, what search terms they used, where they did their search from and more.  On top of that, it is already collecting this information.  You just need to go view it.

Now earlier I talked about location based searches.  A growing number of people are doing searches from their mobile phones.  By default, these are location based.  If someone is searching for an Italian Restaurant, they will get results for ones closest to their current location.  And, if they are using the number one search engine in the world, what do you think will come up on their phone.  You are correct, Google Places results.  This is before any SEO or other natural results are displayed.  Are you starting to see how powerful this is?

If you want more information, there is a site that can teach you much more.  Check them out and see what you might be missing.

Google Places Training

If you like this article or have something to add, please leave a comment.

For full disclosure, this site and Google Places Training are both owned by Crayne Web Marketing.

Image: Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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6 Responses to “Google Places – Key Marketing Strategy for Local Businesses”

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