Local Business Marketing Online – Google Places – Getting to 100{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2}

For businesses serving their local market, life has gotten easier. At least that’s the case for those savvy enough to take advantage of the huge marketing gift Google has offered them.

What’s remarkable is the fact that Google has created pages not just for those businesses who already have web sites, but for millions of businesses who don’t.

The trick though is to “Claim” them, and once claimed to get them to appear on the Google 7 pack within your local market place.

Claiming is easy, but to stay on top of the local market you need to take several additional steps. First you must fill out your information as completely as possible.

In addition, you will need to accumulate citations from other sources and get reviews if you are to maintain a top billing. In the near term, for most businesses, the initial challenge is to get their forms to the 100{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2} complete criteria. Since less than 3{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2} of all Google pages have been claimed so far, you can discover yourself on the first page of Google already, or if not, significantly increase your chances merely by claiming the site.

But as more and more businesses learn the ropes, it appears that those who do the best job of completing the form will be ranked higher than those who only do a partial job.

If you just do the basics, company name, street address, city town, state and zip, plus your main phone you will get credit for 40{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2} of completion. Adding your website and email address will add another 15{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2}. If you don’t have a web site, you can set up a Squidoo page or even a Facebook fan page and use that.

The website spot is worth 10{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2} so it’s important to get a web address of some sort. It’s estimated that even today, as many as 50{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2} of small businesses do not have a web site. That will soon change.

Putting in any type of description of your business will add 5{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2}. But don’t just put in something to get the 5{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2}. Let your prospective customers know what you can do for them. Remember we are doing this to attract customers.

Next be sure to add hours of operations. At first I didn’t because I am kind of a 24/7 operation, working from home as I do. Google allows you to not list any times, but you will get 5{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2} for filling out your hours. And another 5{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2} for toggling any of the payment options.

All of this is pretty straight forward, but what Google loves to see are pictures and videos. They have space for 10 pictures and they want you to use all ten slots to get full credit. So get out your digital camera and take pictures of your logo, your front door, yourself, your staff, your product, yourself at work, your cat or dog or what ever. Clearly the more business and value related these pics are the better they will sell your prospective customers.

Don’t think these need to be studio portraits done by a professional. But that said the better the image the better the impression. This rule is also true for the last big hurdle for many businesses which is the video. At this time it appears that you only need to put up one video to get full credit. This can be as simple as a quick video with you digital camera or phone to a power point presentation outlining the key reasons to do business with you.

Finally, there is a place for additional details. Putting in a one line statement here will add a final 6{3b63f2b93addb01cd0650b04902555609b90507e3f2ce2f684711c3a8631e3e2} to your completion score.

Your first objective is to claim the site. The second is to fill out the form completely, third is to go back and improve the quality of the content. Once done, you will have a Google Places Site that will show off you business properly.

Your Google Places listing is the new Yellow Pages, and you want your listing to be accurate and persuasive. In the near term, this may be all you need to benefit from a first page listing in your market niche in your community. In the future you will need to do more to hang on to that spot, but we will talk about that in future posts.

Now before I leave, let me share with you one more benefit you probably didn’t realize. By setting up a Google Places Page, you have leapfrogged many other competitors of yours who have web pages but are not set up for Mobile phones.

Half of internet traffic is likely to be from mobile devices in 2011 and not traditional computers. Your Google Places page is set up to show up properly on people cell phones, which will give you access to this rapidly growing class of customers. Most of your competitors, even those with big classy websites are probably not set up to be seen properly on cell phones. That’s a real advantage to those who are wise enough to take quick action and get themselves seen.