Make Google Places for Business to work for you – (Revisited 2014)

(This was an article written in 2010, But we found it worth revisiting with few updates that would make it useful to the readers. )

Google Places for Business

Google places for business Image Courtesy  Alex S. Lakas

Business owners (and many SEO companies too :-)) were immensely worried by the fact that black hat SEO tactics , that are not really in the particular location were ahead of their sites in organic listings and was hoping Google would get rid of this situation one day. The local listings earlier were actually running in the second place to organic though physically it appeared on top. They had to wait for nearly 13 years from the date Google was started and at the end of October 2010 their long waited dream became a realistic fact. After 4 years, We have helped several businesses to get listed and succeed in Google Places, which is a very convenient way to get listed and promoted with Google. 

Google Places for Business – A blessing for local businesses 
The local business owners did not believe their eyes when they saw their sites on top pages that are far behind positioned in organic listings in a local organic feature called the Google Places. All the irrelevant location sites that were on top were thrown out of the competition.
With Google places, business owners have experienced a dramatic change in their website inquiries . SEO experts say “ Most of the local business owners were on a sabbatical from their usual work and spent the whole day on just gathering the inquiries they got due to Google Places on the launching day itself. They were all flying high in the sky”. Some business owners got nearly 50% percent of the inquiries through Google places compared to organic from which they were getting from the start and this was within few days of the launching of Google Places. On the other hand black hat SEOs and other websites were clueless on what had happened within hours.
Google Places for Business – A simple and powerful marketing protocol
Google Places is an user-friendly marketing tool, which does not require any technical skills but how effective the business is projected, makes the difference.  All it needs is the physical location of your business with your location integrated on the Google map. Business details such as your phone number, business working hours, website, blogs, videos and photos  can be added in the Google places.
Even if Google has already listed your business details, you as the owner of the business can claim its ownership to manage. This way you will have the control of what information has been displayed such as address, working hours etc. You can also respond to customer reviews.
Google places is not Google plus for Business:
When we talk about Google Places for Business, you shouldn’t confuse it with Google+ Local, which is different, though there are some similarities. The advantage of Google plus local is that users can add reviews and ratings about your business in Google + local and it will get reflected in Google places listings. Also direct customer interaction is possible with Google + local. 
Optimize your Website: 
When you project your business in such an optimized way (of course the details should be original, should not be just made for the sake of Google places ). One of the main aspects in Google place is when you have a website which is well optimized under the Google guidelines and your location based keywords are on top then you have a better chance in doing well in Google places too. Keep your website optimized with regular SEO and keep your content fresh.
Pay attention to Customer reviews:
Apart from the business details, reviews and ratings can also be added to your Google places business page, which makes the visitors get a very good opinion about your business but again they (reviews and ratings) should be genuine. Also, do not ignore customer feed backs, try to get involved in responding them and take them constructively.
Track Visitors and learn from the analytic:
You can also track your visitor analytic under the Google Places control panel.
Track your Google places activities
You can also add campaigns with offers that you want to make.
Make and track offers!
Keep watching and keep updating:
You should keep watching Google’s update on its business practices with Google Places for business. For example, last week (Feb 1, 2014) Google Business Community Manager Jade. W announced that Google has added over 1,000 new categories in the new Places dashboard and they were available globally and translated to every language Google supports. Now you can improve your listings with the new categories if at all you find  you can be placed under better category precisely.
When your business is genuine, then Google Places is the best marketing source to boost it, if not even the Google Places can’t give a helping hand.