Creating a great website is usually on the list for every small business owner, though we all know that those pesky things like time, money and resources can sometime get in the way of our ever increasing list of projects. What if you could have an online presence for your small business that ranks at the top of Google search results up and running in under five minutes? What if it was free? I’m talking about Google Places, a Google product aimed specifically at the small business owner.
Google places (formerly Google Local Business Center) is an advanced online marketing tool for small business owners. It integrates with Google Maps and it allows business owners to update and manage information about their business on a customizable business page. Business owners can place and update information about their business including location, hours of operation, street address, product-photos and even post images of your store front so visitors know what to look for when they come visit you.
Google Places Integrates with Google Maps
Google map is searched by millions of people for their daily needs. Google realized the demand of the public and thus introduced Google Places in September 2009. Google places allow small business owners to create a free listing for their business, regardless if they have their own website or not. You can add information regarding your business for free and then Google will show a marker for your business on Google maps when people search for your type of business in their area. There are also listings alongside the map giving consumers a choice of clicking on your listing to find out more about your business.
By creating your business listing, you will be able to make your small business visible to millions of people who conduct searches online and you can get a visual marker on Google maps in Google search results.
If you are new to the internet and are new to marketing your small business online then Google places is a great tool for you. It is simple, easy to use and manage, can be up and running in minutes and you don’t need to be a marketing expert to use it.
One of the exceptional features of this service is that it allows people to place their reviews and their experiences about your business. These reviews can prove priceless for your business. Positive reviews will help to create that social proof that you are running a quality business.
Some of the newly introduced and exciting features of this service are as follows:
Update important upcoming events:-
As a business owner you can update upcoming events in real time. It can be a sale or any other important event that your business wants to get out immediately to potential customers.
Geographical Area of your service:-
Some businesses may only offer services at their location and others may deliver or offer in home services to customers, as a small business owner you can show the geographical area in which your services are available.
Optimized for mobile searches:-
People are now increasingly using the mobile phones to search for their local needs. Google Places is optimized for mobile phone searches as well. This service is key as more and more people are conducting ‘on the fly searches’ for products and services using their smart phones.
Advertise your small business:-
In some particular cities, Google Places has an optional paid service where for just $25 per month, you can have a yellow tag placed next to your listing to help it stand out from other listings. There has not been a lot of feedback yet on the effectiveness of these enhanced listings but I’m sure Google is conducting lots of research as to it’s effectiveness.
Business owners in U.S. can download a QR code from the dashboard page which is unique to their business. You can place these QR codes on your daily newsletters, business cards or on other advertising material. Consumers can scan these QR codes and can get direct access to the mobile version of your business place page.
Having a Google Places is also important because they appear towards the top of organic search results and allows you to compete directly with much bigger companies in your market. A well designed Google Places page can defiantly help equalize the playing field for a small business owner.
Traditional marketing venues for small business owners like the Yellow Pages, newspaper advertisements and even direct mail for certain areas and industries, seem to be out of favor with consumers. Online marketing allows you to reach a large, targeted consumer base at a manageable, and sometimes free, budget. If you haven’t set up your free Google Places page yet, what are you waiting for?
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