Internet searches have changed recently. But you can easily
capitalize on this change if you act fast.
What is Google Places? Google Places and the regular Google
“Organic” search are two separate listings. A Google Places listing is
identified with a red balloon-like icon, with a letter inside from A to G. To
the right of the red balloon icon is the company name, and further to the right
are the words “Places Page.”
Clicking on the link that says “Places Page” will lead you to – you
guessed it – the Google Places page for that company.
What I’ll do here is walk you, step-by-step, through signing
up for a free listing on Google Places. Then I’ll show you how to tweak your
listing for the best chance of showing up on top. This is the easiest and
fastest way to get listed on Google. It’s a must that every cleaning company
does this. You don’t even need a website to get listed here; the information in
this article will do. And if you’re already listed, I’ll show you a few things
that can improve your list ranking.
How do you find your Google Places listing? Go to
www.Google.com and enter the name of your service followed by your city name in
the search bar. For example, if you are a carpet cleaning company located in
Miami, Fla., enter “Carpet Cleaning Miami” and you’ll see listings from
companies all over your area.
If your listing doesn’t show up on the first page, click the
link that says, “More results near Yourcity, Yourstate.” This will lead you to the page with all
the Google Places pages. Another way to find your Google Places listing is to
click the link in the top left corner under “Everything” that says “Places.”
There you’ll see the Google Places results.
You can only get listed in Google Places in the city in
which your company is physically located. If you service a city where your
business is located, you typically can’t get listed in Google Places. In
addition to getting listed in Google Places, you’ll want to use search engine
optimization efforts to get listed in other cities you service. See my October
2010 ICS cover story article “Getting Your Website to the Top” for tips on
general search engine ranking. But for the city where you are physically
located, Google Places is rather easy.
Here’s what’s happening in Google search: Google recently integrated their local
searches like “carpet cleaning” and “water damage” with Google Places (formerly
called Local Business Results). Now you can find Google Places listings
mingling in with the actual Google search. In some cities, the top listing in
Google could be the Google Places listing. In other cities, the top listing
could be a listing in the Google “Organic” search. This greatly increases the
importance of using Google Places, because now you can get listed in the city
you service without much effort.
If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. All you need to know
is you must claim your Google listing. It’s simple and free, so you may as well
Step No. 1
First, see if your business is registered on Google Places.
Log into your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, go to
www.Google.com and click the “sign in” button. From there you’ll be given an
option to create your Google account.
Step No. 2
Go to www.Google.com/local/add/businessCenter to see your
Google Places listing. If you don’t have a listing for your business, you will
be given the option to create your listing. Just click the link that says, “Add
business” or “Add another business.”
You’ll be asked for your business phone number. If your phone number
currently exists in Google’s system, your number will be found and you’ll be
able to verify your listing. If you don’t currently have your company phone
number in Google’s system, you’ll be able to add your company information at
Step No. 3
Fill in all your information. Don’t leave anything out. If
at all possible, provide pictures and videos in the sections toward the bottom.
One of the most important things to fill out is the “Description” section. Here
you’ll want to add your keywords and your city name. For example, if you’re a
carpet cleaning company that services Atlanta, you’ll want to say something
like, “Carpet cleaning serving the entire Atlanta and surrounding areas by XYC
Cleaning Company.” This tells
Google and your prospective clients who you are and where you service.
Step No. 4
Verify your listing. Google will instantly call your
business phone number. You’ll be given a code to enter over the phone. If you
don’t have access to your phone, you can have Google mail you a postcard with
your unique code. But the postcard process can take a week or two. Phone
verification is much quicker.
Step No. 5
Get reviews. This is a very important factor Google
considers in how high you are ranked in Google Places. I recommend you get
legitimate reviews from clients. Google has a way of knowing whether or not
your reviews are real, so I recommend against making up your own reviews. You
could ask clients to give you a Google review after you have finished the
cleaning job. As well, you could put a link on your website to your Google
Places page where your client can create a review for your company. More
reviews create legitimacy in the eyes of Google and for your prospects. And
often, the company with the most reviews ranks toward the top.
A strong word of caution: If you have multiple listings in
Google Places, consider removing any listings with a false address. And narrow
your Places listings down to only one profile in the city you are physically
located. Google is really cracking down on companies who have false listings.
Some companies have had all their listings banned. I highly recommend you avoid
using a P.O. Box, UPS store address, your local Applebee’s address, etc. Google
knows when an address isn’t really yours.
That’s all there is to it. Believe it or not, at recent
seminars, I’ve had a few cleaners tell me they were paying an “SEO” company
$100-$300 per month to get listed in Google Places. But now you know how to do
it yourself for free. Dedicate a short, 30-minute time slot and get this done
as soon as possible. It’s time well spent with the potential for a huge return.