Gmail, Adwords, Analytics, Google+, Places, Images and Videos are only a handful of services Google offers the business world. Small and yet successful businesses have long used these tools to further succeed in their ventures.
But Google also poses a big challenge for everyone who wants to gain business from them. It’s way too complicated.
Google adds new services way too often- sometimes faster than business owners can learn about them. Yet, many of its important features, such as its standard search, change drastically over time, making it difficult for companies to stay up to speed. Even JC Penny and Walmart couldn’t predict Google’s behavior and lost a great deal of business as a result.
One way to approach this obstacle is to identify which of these services is vital to your business and use it to your advantage.
Without a doubt, Google Places (combined with organic SEO) is the most important for small businesses. Why? Because if your site is among the top five listings on Google Places, your customers will find you. It won’t matter if you don’t know how to use Adwords, Analytics, or Google+.
Being seen at the top of search results is equivalent to purchasing a large, eye-catching ad in your local Yellow Pages that everyone owned 10 years ago. If your ad was the first, your phone would not stop ringing.
If your business is listed high on Google Places, you will witness firsthand Google’s power to send customers your way. In a survey we performed, our clients that appeared on Google Places showed an increase of $45,000-to $274,000 in their annual revenue compared with when they didn’t show up on Google Places. On average, they spent just a small fraction of that money promoting their site. No other advertising method can beat that.
Now, the question is how to get on Google Places. Or, if you are already there, then how do you improve your rank to reach that number one spot?
If you are not listed, the first thing you ought to do is register your business with Google. The steps are simple and are explained in this video: how to get on Google Places.
If you are listed but you’re not at the top, then you need to improve your business’s reputation online. Here is the blueprint for accomplishing just that:
1- Get your customers to write positive reviews for you on your Google Places page. If they search for your business name along with the city you are listed under in Google Maps and then click on the letter associated with your business, a window will open at the top of your listing on the map that has a rating stars link. Clicking on the rating stars will get you to the reviews page. If you don’t have any reviews yet, then there will be a “write a review” link in this window.
2- Add the +1 button to your site’s pages and encourage your friends, family and customers to +1 your site. This will improve your site’s ranking on Google (for those who +1’ed your site’s page and those in their Google+ circles).
3- Improve your site’s link popularity. This means running a campaign that gets you natural, quality links from related Web sites. Since this is going to be the most important factor in helping you rank better on Google Places, I’ll explain it in greater depth in an upcoming article.
Keep your questions in mind and stay tuned.