When was the last time you used a Yellow Pages? If the answer is recently then you've just ruined this article, so I hope you're proud of yourself. The Yellow Pages certainly does have its uses; it's great for standing on top of to reach particularly high shelves, balancing wobbly tables, or even as an effective doorstop. Plus it's full of local business listings for practically every sector you could possibly require. Google Places combines aspects of a business directory with their map service, allowing customers to search for local businesses and see where they are geographically, as well as finding out information about them and reading reviews. For customers this can only be a good thing 'knowledge is power after all' and for businesses it provides a valuable channel through which to market themselves. If your business is not already on Google Places, then here are 5 reasons why you may wish to consider it.
Unlike telephone directories, listings on Google Places are completely free. All you need is a mailing address to register with and you can get started right away. You can add photos and descriptions, specify industry sectors and provide contact details. This contrasts with telephone directories or print advertisements, which generally cost far more money and don't allow you to provide nearly as much information. That's not to say that there isn't a place for such things, but when a listing on Google Pages is free, there's very little reason not to sign up.
Everybody else is doing it
If you were to do a search on Google Maps for web design agencies in Birmingham, you'll no doubt notice that Kalexiko is up there near the top of the results. And rightly so. However you might also notice that there are plenty of other web design businesses there that aren't Kalexiko. This will almost certainly be the case for your business too; if you're not listed on Places then you're potentially losing trade to your competitors. According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online, which is an opportunity your business can't afford to miss out on.
Places allows customers to give reviews of the businesses listed on it. This can be a double-edged sword as reviews aren't necessarily always favourable, and it's not unheard of for more nefarious business owner types to try and sabotage their competitors, although there are procedures in place for dealing with this. Everyone is in the same boat though, and if you're providing the great products and/or services that you should be, then there shouldn't be anything to worry about. It's also possible to respond to reviews if you wish to, and it provides an effective way of finding out what you?re doing right, as well as the areas in which your business can improve.
Having an entry on Google Places not only increases visibility for your business in searches using Google Maps, but is also advantageous for overall page rankings. Uploading content like photos, videos and special offers is something that Google's search algorithms look very favourably on, and helps to bolster your overall SEO strategy.
This aspect of marketing is still only beginning to take off, but the potential is absolutely huge. With the advent of smartphones, gone will be the days of struggling to find a decent restaurant or a hotel for the night in unfamiliar surroundings, even abroad. Location based search really comes into its own when you're out and about, but if people can't find your business on their phones, they're unlikely to find where it's actually situated.
So there we have it. Google Places represents an easy and effective way to drive more customers to your business both online and offline, and best of all it's completely free. We're on it, are you?