Google is the biggest search engine on the planet and the list of features they incorporate is endless. For a new start-up business with a physical location such as a shop or an restaurant, one particular Google service that is worth setting up is Google Places. It is part of a bigger network of Google services known as Google My Business, but, in this guide we will focus on Google Places.
What are Google Places?
Google Places is the local listing results of Google. When registered for Google Places, it can increase your business’ Google presence as they appear high up in the search results. When a matching search term is entered, a small map shows several businesses and lists their telephone numbers. For example, if I search for a taxi company from my home in Newcastle, this is how Google presents their results;
Google Places also kicks in when somebody searches for your business directly. Alongside your business name, Google pulls information such as your phone number, location, opening times and Google Reviews. When somebody searches for my company, Canny Creative, this is what Google returns;
The most interesting thing here is the panel on the right. This is how registering for Google Places effects the look of search results for your business. A few other benefits to registering are increased brand visibility and a small boost to your SEO for using one of Google’s built in services.
Now that you know what Google Places are, I’m sure you want to know how to get registered.
- Set up a Google Account
The first thing you want to do, is create a Google Account. You may already have one (if you’re using a service such as Gmail or Analytics, you’ve probably done this already.) If you have a Google account, feel free to skip to stage 2.
You don’t have to create a Google Gmail address to have a Google account. Under the email form field, there’s a line that says, “I prefer to use my current email address.” Click that first, before filling out any of the information. This will change the form that you’re using and let you proceed using your existing email address.
Once you’re done filling out the form, hit the blue button that says “Next Step.” On the next screen, you’ll be prompted to verify your new Google account via text or phone call verification. Follow the simple instructions for your chosen method and enter your verification code into the box. Hit continue.
The next thing Google wants you to do is “create your public Google+ profile.” You can skip this by hitting the, “No Thanks,” button, or you can revisit it later if you’re looking to join the social network.
And that’s it, you have a new Google account. You can press “Get Started” button and fill out all of the information that Google wants from you, or, simply head back to Google by typing the address in your domain bar. You’ll notice at the top right of your screen, the email address you used when registering will be visible, indicating that you’re signed into Google.
- Head Over to Google my Business
As we mentioned earlier, Google Places is part of a bigger Google range of services called Google My Business. Head over there and hit the big blue button that says Get on Google. The button takes you to a map page.
- Perform a Search for Your Business
On the map page, you’ll be prompted to search for your business in the top left corner of the page. Start typing your business or brand name. The chances are, you won’t find your business in the list. Click where it says “None of these match, add your business >” at the bottom of the drop down list.
- Fill Out Your Business Information
Once you’ve clicked to add your business, a new form will appear. This form prompts you to add all of your business information ranging from; your business name through to your phone number and category. Make sure you choose the most applicable category you can think of for your business.
If you deliver goods to your clients on site, make sure you tick the checkbox at the bottom of the form. If you do deliver goods, the next form will prompt you to enter your delivery area and details. You’ll also be asked if you serve customers at your own business address.
- Verify Your Business
The next screen will ask you to verify that you are authorised to create and manage a page for your business. From here, you’ll be advised you can either verify your business by mail, or skip and verify later.
If you choose to verify by mail, Google will advise you to keep an eye out for a postcard coming through to the address you entered earlier. This ensures that the business you’ve entered is a real business with a trading address. The card can take up to a month to come through the post, so the sooner to send for it the better.
- Google+ For Your Business
Next, Google will advise you that it needs to create a Google Plus page for your business. You’ll get a nice warm welcome to Google My Business and you’ll also get prompted to take a tour.
If you opt to take the tour, Google will hold your hand and guide you through the process of setting up your Google Plus profile. Add a picture, perhaps your start-ups logo design. Add as much information as you can. Things such as opening hours and your website address are vital. You can also add a short description and several photos to really give your business page a personal touch.
Once your Google postcard comes through the mail, follow the instructions and verify your business straight away. This gives you access to things such as Reviews, which in turn show on your Google Place when people search for your business. Building trust indicators is a great way to prove to your clients that your business is right for their job.
You can post updates from your business Google Plus page. You can also set up advertisements and gather insights.
Google is a very powerful tool and making sure your business gets off on the right start can benefit you in the future. Make Google Places your first port of call and start off strong.