Going Places? Try Google Places

Nobody would turn down the opportunity of getting their business listed on the first page of Google for free, would they? However, many are turning down just such an opportunity by not using Google Places.

Any land-based business with an online marketing strategy needs to emphasise its online presence wherever possible and Google Places provides an excellent marketing tool to do that. It provides people searching for a particular product or service access to information about your business, contact details and a location map. There is space for photographs, coupons and for customers to write reviews, giving you a mini shop window website for free.
Setting up a Google account and completing the forms for Google Places is easy to do and should only take about an hour. However, it is essential to supply the requested information correctly so as not to jeopardise the effectiveness of your listing.
Just like normal SEO, you should not indulge in keyword ‘stuffing.’ The result will be a disservice to your business. Use naturally placed keywords that are relevant to your business, product, service and location, the latter being quite important. It is the same with images. Google Places allows ten to be uploaded so choose wisely and make them eye-catching and relevant.
Obtaining genuine customer reviews does not just look good, Google uses them as part of its measurement of the quality of your listing. Having reviews is likely to improve your ranking but beware the temptations of posting fake reviews, trading reviews with others or posting negative reviews about competitors, or you may find your listing is removed.
Finally, it is also essential to verify your listing, this ensures that only you have the permission to alter the listing and without it your listing will not go live. The verification process can either be done by post or completed in minutes over the phone.

Google Places is a largely underused but useful marketing tool and it is free. It is especially effective when used in conjunction with an organic SEO campaign and possibly using pay-per-click advertising.