How to verify your Google places listing for local SEO
In the film Caddyshack, Bill Murray plays Carl Spackler, an assistant greens keeper at a hoity-toity country club with an ongoing feud with a gopher that is determined to ruin the entire golf course.
Your local business can be compared to Carl Spackler, while the your compeitor is the conniving gopher destroying every green and fairway. Does it feel like your varmint competitor is ruining your business by stealing your customers left and right?
Let’s say in an effort to regain your stolen customers and attract a new customer base, you put up a brand new sign and slap on a fresh coat of paint to your storefront to try to make your location stand out. You even go as far as purchasing a small ad space on the golf bench off the ninth hole at your community golf course. But still, no matter what you do, your competitor is getting the best of you and taking all of your customers!
So far, your traditional ad campaign isn’t working. Take your ad campaign in a different direction: online. If you own a local company that provides a service in peoples’ homes like a plumber, or a store that depends on foot traffic like a tailor, this article is for you.
Potential customers are searching for your services or for the services of your competitor. One way that you can influence your ranking is to confirm your business in Google Places. Where you rank in Google Places can decide whether a potential customer calls you or solicits the services from a rival business. Logically, Google is going to rank a business that has been confirmed by the business owner above an unverified location.
When you confirm that you are the owner of your business, it tells Google that the information in the listing is true, the location exists and that your business is relevant to a searcher’s query.
First, go to www.google.com/placesforbusiness to create a Google Places account.
Once your account has been created and verified through email verification, click on “Add Business Location.” When you are filling in the required fields, make sure that your address is identical to how it is listed on your website. If your business has inconsistent addresses around the Internet, you will not rank as well. Don’t put in a P.O. box address on one website and a street address on another.
Description and Category
The description is a place where you want to include your product or service keywords. Within the description, is it also important to include a geographical tag. This could be the major city where your business is located or the area your business services. Please note that you only have two hundred characters, so be brief and to the point.
The category section is where Google gives you a chance to pick out the most relevant keywords for your business. Take a few extra minutes to ensure that you have chosen the best categories to represent your business.
Photos and Video
You can upload up to ten photos and five videos. Many business owners choose not to include either. Why would you opt out of a media element that will not only increase conversion and click-through-rate from the results page, but also appear (if meta data is correctly optimized) in Google Images? To quote Ferris Bueller, “It [images and video] is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend [putting some] up.”
After you have saved all of your data from the previous page, click “Submit.” (That is my least favorite step, as it feels that I am always submitting to The Google one way or another). You will then be directed to the final and most important step—verification!
You now have two options: you can select verification through a postcard or choose to receive a phone call at the number you listed. If possible, always choose the phone verification, as it is instant and a postcard is not.
If you choose the phone verification, you will be directed to a new screen with a four-digit code. You can expect a call within a few seconds, where a machine will require you to authenticate your listing. When the phone call is over, consider yourself verified!
If you are working on a client’s behalf and phone verification isn’t possible, click the postcard option. Then in two to three weeks you will get a post card with a four-digit code. When you receive the card, login to your Google Places account, click on the “Verify Listings” button and input the code.
Once your Google Places listing is verified and a few days have passed, you can get specific data and insight about your listing. It will show you a customizable graph of actions versus impressions, how many times users showed interest in your listing (how many people clicked more info on maps, clicks for driving directions and clicks on your website), top search queries bringing people to your listing, where driving directions came from and so forth.
Google Places gives the business owner the opportunity to place their business in front of people that are looking for it. If your traditional ad campaign isn’t working, it’s because today’s consumers have trained their brains to ignore ad placements all day. When their favorite radio station starts playing an ad, they change the station. When The Walking Dead goes to commercials, they fast forward. If your advertising campaign doesn’t have any digital aspect to it, you can bet that your competitor’s campaign does. Just remember your absence online is helping that pesky gopher make you look like a fool, and he’s have a great time doing it.