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Google Places is all about connecting your business with local customers. As Google say themselves, 97% of consumers search for businesses near to them online.  Even if you don’t a website, having your business on Google Places makes complete business sense.

As with most Google Services, Google Places is completely free so apart from your time (and really not much is needed to set it up) your wallet is not going to be out of pocket. Quite the reverse actually as if done effectively your Google Places listing could greatly increase customers to your business.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, try putting the words Takeaways Beverley or Takeaways YourTown into Google. You should get something like this:

Google Places Search page

The red markers on the Google Map shows the business listings from Google Places (likely to be the most well ranked takeaway outlets in Beverley for these keywords). In the search results list it puts a link to each of those with a marker. Or you can click on the map to find out more information about these businesses including links to find them, contact details, photos and reviews.  You can instantly see why Google Places has great potential.

Registering is easy. All you need is a Google account and if you don’t have one registering is a simple process. If you’re not sure if you have a Google account, you will have one if you can access any of the other Google Services like Google Analytics, Google Reader, Gmail or Blogger or even You Tube.

Tip: I find that using Chrome (my fav browser) it won’t let me pick a category while filling in the form, so I would suggest using Firefox, IE or some other one instead to register with Google Places.

Once you’ve logged in or registered at www.google.com/placesforbusiness, Google will then take you though a handful of steps to list your business:

  • Select your Country and type in your main business telephone number.
  • It will then do one of two things. The most likely is that it will bring up a page for you to fill in with all your business details. However I have found on a couple of occasions it will bring up a listing with your number. If this is your business, you can claim it into your Google Places account by verifying it is your business. Read on to find out how.
  • Fill in the details as requested. Pick as many categories (max 5) as you can find to match your business. And make sure you use as many of those 200 characters as possible in the Description field to describe your business! And use your keywords (click here to read a post about finding your business keywords). Make it an accurate but not boastful description because as we know Google likes things to be real!)
  • When finished press the Submit button.

registering for google places for your business

Google will want to validate your listing (to keep out the riff raff!) It will either want to call, text or post you a verification number. Do what suits you best. Just be aware if you choose the post method, they will send a postcard that looks very much like junk mail so keep an eye out for it. It can take a couple of weeks. You will need to login again once you get the verification code and type it into the verification field.

what your google places verification letter will look like

Where you need to put the verification number for your google places account

Customers will be able to add their reviews to your business and you can post status updates and offers to customers via your Google Places account as well. As it is a Google product, in my experience it makes sense to make the most of it!

So just to recap, why should you join Google Places?

  • Customers can more easily find you without knowing your business name.
  • The nature of a Google search means it is fast replacing traditional telephone directory listings.
  • It is free advertising.
  • It is linked to Google Maps so can help your business appear on the first page for local business searches.
  • As it is linked, Smart phone mobile users can search for your type of business using Google Maps.
  • Customers are able to easily leave reviews and recommendations of your business which help your listing to move up in the rankings.
  • You are able to put your website address, contact details, business information, photos and video’s in your listing.

Here’s a link to how Google suggest you Optimise your listing to help customers find your business on Google Places and here’s a link to their quality guidelines to using a Google Places page.