Local Business Listings are found in a variety of the different search engines. They are usually accompanied by a MAP, and drive traffic to your business or Web site from your location on that map. These listings are not to be confused with organic listings (below the map) or sponsored pay per click (PPC) listings sometimes found above and to the right of the map. As you work your way through this online tutorial, you will learn how to claim, verify and validate your listing information in a variety of sources on the web.
Acorn Internet Services, Inc. has been teaching and encouraging their customers to participate and benefit from Local Listing results for years. As the web becomes more and more Socially friendly, these Local listings are appearing on more locations such as Mobile Devices and Handhelds. Having a presence in these listings will benefit your business.
We will be addressing Google Places business listings in this and the following sections. A Google Places business listing may be found by your potential guests in one of two ways.
1) When your guest does a search on www.google.com
2) When your guest does a search on maps.google.com
To test this yourself, you may enter in CITY+STATE+BED+AND+BREAKFAST on either Classic Google search (1) or in Google Maps (2) search boxes. Either way will ultimately lead you to the individual detail page for any local listing simply by clicking on either “reviews” or “more info”.
In the test below we did a search on “kansas city mo bed and breakfast” in both Classic Google Web search and also Google maps. Do keep in mind that the results may vary slightly between the 2 different Google subdomains (www.google.com) vs. (maps.google.com).
You will see our customer Southmoreland is letter “A” in the Local Listings.
We are tracking the traffic received from both Classic Google search (www.google.com) and Google Maps Search (maps.google.com). We are finding that a well placed local listing can drive up to 25% of total traffic click throughs from Classic Google search and less than 1% a month come from Google Maps Search.
Note: If a guest clicks on your Inn name in Google Classic Web search (www.google.com) it will be counted in your tracking system as a Google Organic Listing (www.google.com) and if they click your URL on a Google Maps search (maps.google.com) it will be tracked as a Google Maps Listing (maps.google.com) in your tracking system. In order to separate the Google Classic searches coming from (www.google.com), you will need to add Query tracking code to your Web site address in the Google Places Account. See below how to add query tracking code to watch the traffic on your own site. You may also choose to just read your results directly from the Google Places Dashboard (as seen below) when you log into your account.
Once you either click on “reviews” or “more info” you will see the Local Business Listing Detail screen. This information comes from a variety of places. Once you claim your listing, you will have a chance to complete the form that feeds much of the information you see below.
The sections are as follows:
1) The first section is the Basic Business Information Section. This section contains the Business Name, Address, Phone Number (local), Web site, etc. You will notice a (+) Categories. If you click this you will see that up to 5 categories may be chosen by the owner. If there is more than 1 category listed, you can assume this listing has been CLAIMED. If you only see 1 category listed, you’ll have to check to see if the business has been claimed. Google will default and list properties that are unclaimed, but they only assign 1 default category listing to unclaimed listings.
2) The second section is the Details Section. This information comes from both the business owner, and any trusted provider that Google chooses to pull information from to display.
3) The third section is the What People are Saying About… Section. The information displayed in this section is a compilation of third-party reviews from Google’s trusted data providers sub-divided into different topics relevant to your industry / category and is displayed via a visual graph bar.
4) The fourth section is the Photos / Videos Section. The business owner may add in up to 10 photos and 5 YouTube videos in this section, other images may also be pulled from other trusted provider sites.
5) The fifth section is the Review Section. Reviews come from a variety of places such as Frommers, TripAdvisor, Google, and so on.
6) The sixth section is the Nearby Places You Might Like. Google is displaying other “similar” Google Local Listings (Place Pages) of other related “places” in the area. In most cases, they are other businesses similar to your own.
7) The seventh section is the More About This Place. This section displays Web sites that reference the property being viewed, and might include listings from the property’s own site, blog and outside references.
8) The eighth and last section is the User Content Section. This section includes any additional information that supports the local listing, and contains any Google Maps that might reference the address from the Local Listing search.
Finally, in the right column there is a mini-map. Directly below the map, the Street View Image and the Sponsored Links from other properties that are advertising for the similar area, you will see additional Related Map listings (that are also displayed in the User Content Section.)
You must first determine if your listing has been CLAIMED or if it remains UN-CLAIMED. Always be aware of multiple listings that might show up for your one business. You should only have (1) one local listing per address. *If you have multiples, you need to claim all the listings, and then choose the one you wish to keep.
Follow these steps to verify if you have CLAIMED your listing…
Step 1: Go to maps.google.com
Step 2: Enter your physical address or Web address and look for your listing(s) *see note above.
Step 3: Once you locate your listing, click “more info”
Step 4: Look in the blue bar directly above your listing
A: If it says “Edit this Place – Business Owner?” your listing is NOT CLAIMED.
B: If it has a Green Check Mark and Says “Verified Listing” then your listing IS CLAIMED.
If your listing is already CLAIMED, then you may log into your Google Master Account and click on the Google Places Icon to update your listing.
If your listing is UN-CLAIMED you will need to follow the steps in the following section to claim your listing.
You must have a Google Master Account to be able to claim and update your Google Places Business Information.
Note: If you have an AdWords, GMail, Google Analytics Account, Blogger, etc. you already have a Google Master Account, so it is that login you will need to use to CLAIM or Update your Google Local Listing information.
Acorn Customers: If you need help claiming your Google Places Business Listings, we are available to assist at normal consulting rates.
Don’t know if you already have a Google Account? Start here…
You only want to have 1 (ONE) Master Google account. Setting up a second one when you already have one MAY cause issues with Google. Click here and try all your E-Mail possibilities before you set up a new account to make sure you don’t have one lurking out there you may have forgotten about.
If you are SURE you don’t have a Google account you may sign up for one clicking here.
Note: Once you’ve Claimed your local listings, you will be able to go back and edit the information at any time. You will do this by following Steps 1 and 2 and then clicking on the Local Business Center Icon in your Google Master Account.
Note: If the name of your business, the local phone number or the physical address has changed, it’s a good idea to do some investigation online before you claim your listing. Google uses “Trusted Partners” to validate the information you provide when you claim your listing, and if the information isn’t consistent, your placement in the Google Places Local Listings may be affected.
Step 1: Go to Google http://www.google.com/
Step 2: Click Sign In in upper right hand corner and enter your Google Master Account userid and pw.
Step 3: Click MAPS in upper left hand corner
Step 4: Enter your Web site Address (or) Physical Address including city, state and zip
Step 5: Click “More Info” beside your listing on the left.
Note: If you are unable to locate a local listing, and have thoroughly searched, you may submit a new Local Business Listing by clicking here. But remember, you need to search thoroughly. YOU DO NOT want to have more than (1) one Local listing. Creating a new one when one already exists will cause issues with your placement in Local.
Step 6: In the blue line at the top of the screen click the “Business Owner” link.
Step 7: From the 3 choices presented, choose “Edit My Business Information” and click Continue.
Step 8: Now fill in or update all of your Basic Information, starting with Country, then Company/Organization
* Help Note 1: Google Local Guidelines encourages you to use your legal name. IE: Don’t add words to your name for placement. Google could reject your listing if it doesn’t match your published legal name.
* Help Note 2: Make sure you add all of your information as Google has it listed in their example areas (usually below each field). For example, when you key in your phone number, use parentheses around your area code rather than just hyphens. When keying in your web site URL, use http (example: http://www.acorn-is.com, rather than just www.acorn-is.com). Also, remember to use your local phone number as the primary number, and use the toll free as the alternate.
* Help Note 3: When you get to the description, you have 200 characters with which to describe your business. Use good descriptive words that fit together in a short paragraph, make sure to include Location IE: City + State + Bed and Breakfast, and any niche phrases for your property. (Example: Charming bed and breakfast lodging accommodations located in the heart of XYZ city, State. We offer weekend specials, holiday packages and delicious complimentary breakfast.)
Step 9: Choose your Categories. Try to confine your categories to Google’s pre-defined categories. For example, Bed & Breakfast is a pre-defined category. You can find pre-defined categories by starting to type in categories to see what will pop up. Try all sorts of categories, such as Wedding Venue, Spa, Resort, Lodge etc. You have up to 5 Categories that you may define. If you exhaust all pre-defined categories and haven’t filled all 5 Categories, as of 2008, Google allows you to set free-form Categories. So fill up all 5 Categories with relevant information about your property. Just remember to choose a pre-defined one in your first category field.
Step 10: Set your Hours of Operation. Unless you have a specific set of business hours, you may choose to leave this one marked “I prefer not to specify operating hours”.
Step 11: Service Areas and Location Settings. Set this to YES – you want to publish your address.
Step 12: Payment Options, enter all your payment options.
Step 13: Upload Photos. Google does have size requirements, so you may have to make your photos smaller to load them. You may add up to 10 photos. If you have outside accounts where you have photos such as BedandBreakfast.com, you may already have photos loaded that you may be unaware of, you may add to these by simply submitting more.
Step 14: You have the opportunity to upload Videos to your Local Business Account. Your videos must be loaded on YouTube to be able to add videos to Google Local Business. If you personally do not have video of your property, look for associated video that represents your area on YouTube, such as a travel and tourism video. If the video you choose provides the URL you may submit it as related content to your listing.
Step 15: Additional Details Section. This is a very important section from a marketing standpoint. Use this area to add in details about your Inn. Here are a few examples. You simply need to match what you are selling when you key in your Additional Details to your account.
- Events : Baby Showers, Reunions, Wedding Showers
- Weddings : Elopement Packages, Ceremony Location, Commitment Ceremony
- Getaways : Weekend Getaways, Romantic Getaways, Honeymoons
Additional Details provides the business owner with a wonderful opportunity to market your business niche in the Local Map area to match what you are marketing in the Organic listings. Having your site show up in both Local and Organic gives you expanded exposure at a low cost. Remember, you are not trying to STUFF these detail fields, but simply include all options of information that may not have fit anywhere else in the listings.
Step 16: Click SUBMIT to process the verification of your listing. You will either be asked to verify the listing by phone or Google may require you to receive a post card via USPS Mail.
Once your account is verified, log back into your Google Places Account and you may proceed on to Step 17 should your marker location be incorrect.
Step 17: Review the location of your marker on the map. Make sure your marker location is correct. If it isn’t, click: “Fix incorrect marker location” and move the marker to the correct place, and then click save changes.
- Another function of Google Places is Coupons. You can click on the Coupons tab to add coupons to your business listing for free. Remember to include images and interesting content to grab your visitors’ attention! Read our Blog post on creating and using Coupons!
- Google Local now provides you an ongoing opportunity to “Post to your Place Page”. You may share specials, local happenings and additional information for up to 30 days on any Google Places Business Listing. Look in the upper right hand corner on the Google Places Dashboard to “Post to your Place Page”.
- The more Reviews you can obtain for your business (such as Tripadvisor.com, Frommers, BnbFinder.com, BedandBreakfast.com, Google Reviews, Yahoo Travel, Yelp etc.) you receive the higher your local listing may climb in the local placement for different local phrases. Note: You may also respond directly to any Google Reviews in the Respond to Reviews section on the right.
- You may also create Google Maps to support your Local Listing. Make sure anytime you create a custom MY Map that you include your own property listing as provided by Google Maps as one of the items on the map.
We at Acorn IS continually try to provide our customers with accurate step by step instructions, but please know that there may be times when what we have written no longer coincides with the topic of choice. Please always refer back to the actual product page of the topic in discussion to read the up to date information should you experience problems with the instructions provided by Acorn IS.