Imagine attracting hundreds of prospects to your storefront, all within range of your brick-and-mortar store. According to Google, 97% of prospects search online for local businesses just like yours.

Google Places makes it easier for your business to get found by potential customers excited about your products and services. Combined with eagerly anticipated deals and smart advertising, Google Places provides tremendous opportunity for both struggling startups and established enterprises.

Google Places is powerful.

By having a complete listing, customers will have immediate access to glowing reviews, business hours, contact information, and a map showcasing the exact location of your shop.

But don’t leave money on the table. Let’s examine the impact Google Places can have on your business.

Attract Local Customers with Targeted Marketing

Can customers easily find your business?

Phone books are distant history as more customers shop on the Web with their laptops and smartphones. Spark interest in your products or services and get local customers excited about your offer by connecting with them on Google Places.

Google pinpoints exactly where potential customers are located the second they submit a search query. Google then displays personalized search results based on their interests and location.

Let’s assume you own a coffee shop and your business is listed on Google Places. Google will target nearby prospects with cravings for a steamy hot cappuccino before a hectic day at work. As customers browse through your business profile, mouth-watering images of coffee and biscuits will catch their eye. Before you know it, they’ve received directions to your store and are now dropping by for breakfast.

Google Places can help you make a lasting impression. With a simple search, prospects know exactly where your business is located on Google Maps, how long your business will stay open for, and what to expect the second they step through the front door of your shop. In just a few short minutes, local customers know your store has a warm atmosphere, cordial staff, and comfortable seating.

Don’t have a traditional business?

You can still take advantage of Google Places if you use a physical location to meet with clients or work certain hours of the week. While it’s against the terms to use a P.O. box if your business doesnít exist in that location, you can list your virtual office instead.

Google also sympathizes with businesses that don’t operate in any one location. Under these circumstances, you can add service areas to your Google Places listing and verify your business at a central location within your service area.

Overwhelm Competition with an Optimized Listing

Not fully optimized for search engines?

Don’t worry. A complete Google Places listing will rank your business on the first page of Google. Business profiles appear above advertising and organic search results, making it easier than ever before for customers to find your business by location, keyword, or phone number.

But what if you already have a website optimized for search engines? You’ll now receive double the exposure in search results, more traffic, and an advantage over competition. Even small businesses with complete Google Places listings can rank higher than large corporations.

A complete listing will give your business an edge.

Search for “Italian restaurant in Brockton, MA.” You’ll find that the top five restaurants have more complete information, photos, and reviews. While the majority of restaurants ranking behind the top five are semi-complete, some listings are missing photos, some have no reviews, and others have neglected fields in the listing.

Let’s go through the steps and build a highly optimized Google Places listing.

  • Claim your business. Verify that you own your business and your business will gain credibility. You can verify your business by phone or postcard. Plus, you can ensure that all information provided to Google Places is accurate.
  • Fill in important sections. Make sure to include a relevant headline, business hours, phone number, address, contact information, and a link to your website.
  • Optimize your business description. The description is limited to 200 characters, so make it count! Include keywords that relate to your product or service, but don’t keyword stuff. Focus on the location of your business to help your listing rank for nearby cities in your area. Stuck on ideas? Google’s Keyword Planner will help. Simply enter your keyword in the first field and Google will automatically generate a list of related keyword terms in the “keyword ideas” tab.
  • Choose categories for your business. Google will automatically recommend categories for you as you type. You can have up to five categories, but keep them short. Choose categories based on the type of business you run, industry or market your business caters to, and products or services you sell.
  • Pick nearby cities to represent your business. You don’t need to overstuff your listing with 30 different cities. Choose 5 or 10 major cities around your area.
  • Include high-quality images. Don’t be afraid to upload photos of your storefront, business environment, products, or menu if you own a restaurant. Attractive photos will encourage prospects to learn more about your business.

You can overwhelm competition, captivate prospects, and increase sales by simply having a complete Google Places listing.

Spark Excitement with Glowing Reviews

Do you engage with your audience by responding to feedback and reviews?

Confirm your business is worth getting excited about by networking with your customers. With Google Places, you can receive reviews and respond directly to customer feedback. When customers share, rate, and recommend your business to others, sales explode as your business gains exposure via word-of-mouth marketing.

In turn, you create lasting relationships with your customers and attract repeat visitors to your store.

So how do you get reviews? Follow these steps.

  • Ask repeat customers for a review. Direct them to your Google Places listing and encourage feedback. The more reviews you receive, the more trusted your business will become.
  • Become active on social media. Ask Facebook fans for a review or post a tweet on Twitter. Conclude the status message with a link back to your Google Places listing. You can also use this moment to gain reviews on other directories your business is listed on.
  • Add attractive photos and videos. Grab attention with a video that highlights the strengths of your business. Simply upload a video on Youtube and link to it on your Google Places profile. By sacrificing the extra time to upload a video, you tack on another layer of professionalism.

Most customers will be happy to write a review for your business if they enjoy working with you. By adding extras like images and videos to your listing, you instantly peak interest and drive traffic back to your website.

Promote Your Business on a Low Budget

You can opt to upgrade your Google Places account and receive special features like AdWords Express and Google Offers to help with business marketing.

AdWords Express makes online advertising simple and easy. You wonít have to pay a cent unless prospects pick up the phone or visit your website.

It works like this:

  1. Potential customers search Google for a product or service.
  2. Google displays your ad in search results if prospects are in your area or include a nearby city in their search (example: San Francisco diner).
  3. If prospects are using Google Maps, a marker will pinpoint exactly where your business is located. Customers will have immediate access to directions on how to get to your brick-and-mortar store.
  4. Potential customers can then call your business or click through to visit your website. If choosing to call, the ad will auto-generate a number that will forward to your business number. This number tracks the call on your AdWords Express account.
  5. You’re charged for every phone call or click to your website. Google will bill your account 30 days after your last payment or whenever your account reaches your billing threshold (starting at $50).

It’s as simple as that.

If you have a traditional business or low budget, AdWords Express can present an excellent advertising opportunity. You don’t even need a website. Since you’re only charged when prospects respond to your advertisement, results are guaranteed.

Gain Repeat Customers with Discounts and Deals

Another premium feature of Google Places, Google Offers gives customers a platform for finding, saving, and redeeming coupons towards a purchase.

Google Offers provides tremendous sales potential.

With the holiday season here, more prospects will look to save money on their next purchase. By offering desktop and mobile customers special discounts, you can introduce new customers to your store.

Reach customers on Google Maps, Google Offers emails, the Google Offers website, and Google Plus. You can set your coupon to take off a dollar amount or percentage of the price. Or, encourage multiple purchases with buy-one-get-one and free product deals.

Own a traditional shop?

You can increase in-store purchases with Google Offers. Customers will simply show you their valid offer on their mobile phone and you can apply it during checkout.

Google Places offers both new and established businesses a wealth of benefits. The sign up process should only take 5 to 10 minutes. After you’ve verified your business by phone or postcard, you’re one step closer to catapulting sales, strengthening customer relationships, and boosting search engine exposure.

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