Google Places is an innovative new search feature from Google that is specifically designed to help local businesses with a physical presence. If that’s not you, then Google Places won’t really help your online marketing efforts. Google Places is great for people who are trying to market their shop, restaurant, etc., online, and it can dramatically reduce your marketing spend.
What is Google Places, in a nutshell?
Google Places is simply a location-based tagging system that puts you on Google Maps. You register for it, they send you a code by snail mail, and then you verify that you exist at that address. You can only have one listing per physical address (but multiple places per business if you have more than one branch or location). It helps you only if your business involves getting customers into your store or premises.
How does it help?
Google Places dramatically helps to improve your search rankings for people doing local searches. A large percentage of searches for products or services include a location in the keyword. Previously, targeting these keywords was a cumbersome affair – it’s difficult to write a coherent article focusing on the keywords “shoe repair Columbia”. Now it’s much easier – especially if you’re the first business in your niche to register with Google Places.
The Mobile Revolution
When people are out and about and they need to find a specific store or business, they use their smartphones if they have them. Being on Google Places means that you will show up on a search of the area, so that means that pretty much every single person who happens to be in your area looking for what you sell will end up being directed to your store. You just can’t buy that kind of advertising.
As mentioned above, being associated with an area has a massive SEO advantage. It also frees up your SEO time from targeting a specific location, so you can spend more of your SEO energy and budget on product related keywords, rather than location keywords. Not having to worry about someone two towns over getting your traffic means higher revenues for less money (for both you and the guy two towns over).
Using Google Places in conjunction with Google AdWords Express
AdWords Express was launched in 2011 with little fanfare, but it’s actually a very powerful tool for local businesses. It’s a cheap, easy way to for local businesses to advertise on Google, and it’s only really useful for physical stores and the like.
You can pick up starter account credits anywhere (just Google “AdWords Express Coupon Code” and you’ll eventually find one for anywhere between $25-$100). You’ll need to learn a bit about how AdWords works, but you’ll find that it’s much cheaper than conventional AdWords because you’re not competing against every heavyweight on the internet.