Google Places, Local Listings and your Bottom Line

As many of you know, the only way to stay on top of changes in our industry is to continue to study and learn.  Personally I read articles that come in from my Google Alerts every morning on topics such as Google Places, SEO, Facebook, Twitter and the Bed and Breakfast Industry, to name a few.

On June 7, 2100 we Blogged about the importance of keeping both sides of your marketing:

a) SEO On Page Search Engine Optimization and
b) keeping your Local Places current and maintained.

This morning there was a flurry of articles on Local Places listings and how they are being used in new and useful ways by YOUR Guests and the general local surfing public.  I’m including the top 2 that will impact your business.

1st – GOOGLE PLACES NEW MOBILE SEARCH FEATURE

I was using my iPhone yesterday to search for a local business and noticed that the Google Places results display had changed.  Now when I click the PLACES search link in Google, my screen splits into 2 parts: top and bottom.  The local map for the area I was searching was on the top of the split screen and all the results (Red Balloons: A, B, C through G) were scrollable below the split screen.  As I scrolled the map would highlight one location at a time, including the images in the lower left hand corner of the map as I scrolled through the different results.  I personally was impressed with the simplicity of searching through the various businesses, and then this morning I find the following Article in my Google Alerts.

Google Adds Places Feature to Mobile Search [READ FULL ARTICLE]

If you have a smart phone, take a moment and go test a few search phrases with this new feature, you can bet your guests who use smart phones are using it too!  And remember, if you don’t show up between A and G in a normal city + product search, you won’t show up on a smart phone much differently.

Here are 2 snapshots directly from my iPhone:

[LEFT IMAGE] Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast with Blended (Merged) Google Places Results
[RIGHT IMAGE] Asheville Bed and Breakfast with Pure Google Places Results

2nd – GOOGLE’S NEW CITY PAGES!

During the past 6 months, Google has been testing their new City Page concepts on 4 cities:

  • Austin, Texas
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Diego, California

Many believe that these will be the future “Google Yellow Pages” or “Google Cityguides”. Their impact on your business will be something to watch in the upcoming months, as they grow beyond their testing cities.

Below are 2 information packed articles.  The first was published yesterday on the Google Places Community Blog, the second a detailed write up-on Google’s City Pages as published on Search Engine Land.

Discover New Local Gems With Our New City Pages [READ FULL ARTICLE]
Google City Sites May Compete with Yelp and Online Yellow Pages [READ FULL ARTICLE]

So WHAT DO YOU DO as a business owner to make sure you are well placed in Google Places so all these new and exciting applications that are pulling from Local data finds YOUR Business Information?

1) Search the Web for all mentions and citations of your business.  Make sure any place your business information is found online has a MATCHING (NAP+W)  IE: Name + Address + Phone + Website.  If you spell your name or address in a variety of ways, you will lose power to support your Places listings.

2) Claim your Google Places listing [LEARN HOW HERE]

3) Claim, Maintain and Make Accurate ALL Places listings outside of Google.

4) Get involved with Ongoing Education regarding Google Places and learn how to maintain a high placement in Local Listings everywhere on the web. 

This Is Not Something You Do One Time and Walk Away!

It’s like planting a garden. You have to maintain it on an ongoing basis.  You can do this by participating in Ongoing Education or learning it on your own by following, reading and studying the topic daily. Google Alerts is a great tool to keep track of the latest and greatest information on ANY topic.

It’s easy to see the topic of Local keeps changing.  You need to be aware of those changes so you can take best advantage of them for maintaining and growing your business.

A Final Foot Note

We saw the potential for Places to become the hottest thing online way back before the 2009 Atlanta PAII Conference and have been teaching it continually since then.  Those of you who have been attending our webinars and have applied what you have learned are already reaping the benefits. 

Here we are, two plus years later, and that anticipation is only growing with the new ways Google is using this information.  Don’t be left behind.  Get started today by working to gain the very best Local Placement possible for your business.

Need Assistance?  We are here to help.  Just let us know and we’ll set up a consult to review your Places listing and create a ToDo list of items we know need to be defined accurately to achieve your highest listings possible.

Lisa Kolb
President and Co-Founder
Acorn Internet Services, Inc.

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