May 122010
This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Google Places

Millions of people use Google every day to find places in the real world. Local businesses can claim or create their Place Page on Google through the Local Business Center, which enables them to verify and supplement their business information to include hours of operation, photos, videos, coupons, product offerings and more.

Google has changed the name of Local Business Center to Google Places.  Here is an example of La Costa Uphostery’s Google Place.

All the major search engines (Yahoo, Bing, Google) have some type of alternative to Google Places.  For my discussions you may see me using the term Local Business Listing – This is the general term for Search Engines aggregating a specific business’s information (what they sell, hours, reviews, etc) and allowing some form of control by the owner of the business, but not complete control.

Google’s Place Pages are primarily for local businesses, but they also provide useful information about cities, neighborhoods, points of interest, and mass transit stops. You can see a Place Page simply by going to Google Maps and entering in a search term. When the results come up, you’ll have several results with representative pins on the map. When you hover over a pin, a box will pop up and in that box is a ‘More Info’ link. That link takes you to the Place Page for that local business or location.

One out of every five searches is location related, but local search still represents a relatively small portion of Google’s revenues. Google wants local businesses to claim their Places pages (4 million have already done so- Have you?), update them and buy local search advertising.

Businesses can also add real-time updates to their Places page and define the areas they serve.

Below is a short video from Google explaining Google Places

There is power in using Google Places, but to make the most of it you need time and knowledge.  If you have limited time and knowledge,  contact me and let me  help you.

May 112010
This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Google Places

If you do not already know, I am a big fan of Google’s Local Business Listing, now called Google Places. For local businesses, it can be the most effective way to get new business and it is free from Google. Google wants you to embellish your Google Place, but Google has control of it, not you, the business owner. It is the wild west on the internet and you need to keep vigilant (keep reading my blog) so that you can take advantage of those changes.

Google’s control is highlighted by the latest change of your Local Business Listing – The addition of “Nearby Places you might like”. This feature could have both positive and negative effects on your business.

Google’s Nearby Places could give your established customers the idea to go to a competitor, or you could be the competitor and steal their customer.

Local Business Listing

Top 7 list for Google Search "Upholstery Carlsbad, CA"

So what has Google done? In the middle of your Local Business Listing Google has placed a section that list other business that may be of interest to someone who is looking at your business. As an example I am going to look at Upholstery in Carlsbad.

Round 1 – Fanco’s Upholstery gets the attention

In the example, Francos Upholstery is the top of the list of Google local places for the search Upholstery near Carlsbad, CA.  Learn more about how to get on the top of Google Places here.

It is on the top so most people will click on it to find out more… It is clear Franco’s owners are  taking an active participation in embellishing their local business listing, they have a review and have created a coupon

Francos Nearby places

Where would you click next?

But look what is below that – My favorite Upholstery store, La Costa Upholstery, with 15 reviews and a 5 star rating. My guess is most people will click on La Costa Upholstery at this point.

Round 2 – La Costa Upholstery steals attention

So now let’s look at La Costa Upholstery’s situation with the roles reversed. La Costa Upholstery does not have a coupon (They need to work on that), but if you look at the competitors in Nearby places (including Franco’s Upholstery) you would not click on any of them (Maybe We-R-Fabrics).

La Costa Upholstery Nearby Places

Would you click away from La Costa Upholstery?

So Google addition of Nearby places should help La Costa Upholstery and hurt Franco’s Upholstery.

So what does Google say about Nearby Places?

Here is Google’s description of what they are doing in Nearby Places in a local business listing:

You’ll notice that we do not limit these suggestions to places sharing any specific characteristic; instead, we use a broad set of signals to come up with what are hopefully the most interesting suggestions. We’re still working on refining these signals, so bear with us if your serendipitous discovery of a new place is even more unexpected than you’d anticipated.

The reality is that  most of the businesses listed in this section of your Google Places are going to be competitors to your business. Like all things on the internet, Google Places is going to continue to change, so you need to keep vigilant of those changes and benefit from those changes and make your competitors suffer.

What is a Local Business to do?

Given that you are not in control, what can you do?  The answer is to push the Nearby Places section as far down your page as possible. This means adding content, pictures, video and REVIEWS.  Here is the complete Local Business listing for La Costa Upholstery.  You have to read a lot of very positive info about La Costa Upholstery before you see the competition in Nearby Places.

La Costa Upholstery Local Business Listing

Push the competition down the page

Round 3 – La Costa Upholstery keeps attention and get the phone call from the customer.

What are your first impressions of “Nearby places you may like?” Tell us if you you share our concern by leaving a comment below.

Make Google your friend - Steal Mcdonald's business