Google is serious about encouraging folks who provide a service from a shop or office to claim their listing on Google Places. And, they are cracking down on cheaters who try to game the system. Here are a few reasons why Google is so focused on this task and why you should be too.
The year of mobile search may have finally arrived. Smartphone sales continue to soar and folks increasingly rely on them to find all manner of local businesses. In fact, searches for restaurants, entertainment, and service providers are currently dominating mobile search statistics. But, that trend is rapidly spreading across all industries and service providers.
Mix in GPS and Google Maps
When someone does a search on any device, the search engine has a good indication of where that person is located. That clue comes from the IP address of a desktop or the GPS of a cell phone or the wi-fi someone is using for their iPad.
The top search results will include those most relevant to the person’s location. If a person clicks on a Google Map result, they may want to see driving directions too, or a picture of the building.
Claim Your Place
Google wants their result info to be correct. Why? Because there’s a lot of competition for accurate search results these days. Bing recently released a huge set of upgrades including maps, local, mobile, travel, and image search. Whichever search engine provides the best info is the one the viewer will turn to most often. (See my post for more info on the big players involved and why you should care.)
If you claim your listing on Google Places, you can correct any inaccuracies including the placement of the little red dot that shows your business location. You can also add content that your potential customers will appreciate like a picture of your storefront, telephone number, parking instructions and store hours. You can even include a coupon or info on specials you are running.
Taking time to optimize your listing in Google Places may be the difference
in whether a customer visits you or your nearby competition.
Claiming your listing ensures that you will show up in the Google Map listing which appears on the front page of Google search results. It will also ensure that you show up in both desktop and mobile search, which each give different results.
Your Listing Held Hostage
In the early days of the web, some unscrupulous folks decided they could purchase domains of famous businesses or people and hold them for ransom. For instance, they might have purchased Sears.com and then charged Sears a small fortune to buy it back. The same sort of thing is happening with listings on Google Places. So, you want to ensure that you are the first one to claim your business listing.
Google is getting serious about ensuring that the search results you see are accurate and that they belong on the top of the page. Shadowy SEO practices have propelled some sites to the top that don’t actually deserve to be there. False five-star reviews from folks who have never visited the shop are one example.
Google wants to ensure that you are the real owner of the listing. They will call you to check and/or send you a postcard. In fact, they are showing a strong preference for using the postcard method these days. One of the reasons for that is to also ensure that folks listing on Google Places have a real business address because folks with a P.O. box are not allowed on the coveted Google Maps listing.
And, Google even provides a link on the listing itself to ensure viewers that the info has been provided by the owner. Make sure that’s you and not your competition playing dirty.