1. Claim your listing. Go to http://places.google.com . Login using your existing Gmail account or create a new account (if you don’t have a gmail account) to claim your business listing. Once your account is created, login and l select the “List Your Business” button. First, find out if your business is listed. Enter your Country and Phone Number and select “Find Business Information”. If your business is listed, select “Edit”. If your business is not listed, select “Add a New Listing”.
2. Add your business information. Fill out the following categories:
• Basic Information – Business Name, Phone Number, Address etc. Always use a local phone number and address. The closer to the city center you are targeting is better. Use not only a phone number with the right area code but the right prefix for the area if possible. Use descriptive terms that contain a keyword or two that best describes your business. For example if you own an insurance agency, write “Acme Insurance Agency always has the best insurance solutions for any occasion.” For the Category Section you are given 5 sections to categorize your business. You will also want to use keywords that describe your business. People who search Google for your business will be typing in keywords for example “Capitola Insurance” or “Insurance Agent in Capitola”.
• Service Areas and Location Settings – There are two options to choose from. Select one of the two options. No, all customers come to the business location. Yes this business serves customers at their locations. If you select yes this business serves customers at their locations. Then specify how far you will travel to service customers.
• Hours of Operations – You can choose to not specify your hours of operations or select the days of the week and the time you are available for business.
• Payment Options – Specify how customers can pay at your business.
• Photos – Add some photos of your business and perhaps your employees. You can add up to 10 photos of your business. Post at least five. Make sure that you read Google’s photo submission guidelines.
• Videos – Add some videos for your business. You can add up to 5 videos for your listing. Upload your videos to YouTube first, then copy the YouTube URL of your video.
• Additional Details – Enter in any other details you want customers to know about your business. Such as if there is parking available or any particular brands of products that you offer.
NOTE: You want to complete all the different sections of information requested to their entirety. You don’t have to upload 10 photos or 5 videos, but initially try for at least five photos and one video. Getting a favorable ranking in Google Places will depend whether you filled out all the information. This is a huge mistake that most companies make when submitting their business to Google Places.
3. Once you are listed in Google Places, take the next steps. You should be indexed with a couple of days and no more than 3 weeks. You can check to see if your website has been listed by going to Google and typing in your business name along with your city name. Then on the left side of the Google search results click on “More” then “Places”. You may have to go to second or third page to find your listing.
4. Address optimize your website – The only changes you should make as far as the website goes for Google Places is address and services areas. Copy the address exactly as listed in the Google Places listing and add it to the bottom of each page of your website and your website should have some form of a contact us page. On the Contact us page it should be listed in the content of the page also.
**ADDRESS CONSISTENCY IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO RELATING TO GOOGLE PLACES**
Use the same exact address format for everything you do for your business that requires an address. This includes the domain registrar contact information.
For Example you want to avoid mismatched address information:
Address in Google: 101 Main St.
Address on your website: 101 Main Street
5. Ping Your Pages. Pinging your website to let Google know changes have been made. This will index the changes into its search engine. You can ping your website by going to http://pingomatic.com/ and submitting your website name and address. Wait until the new pages are indexed in Google before moving on. To check if your changes have been made, typesite:www.yourwebsite.com in the search field. This will display all of your website pages that Google indexed in the search engine. Move to the next step once you see you the changes are indexed.
6. Get Reviews – You want to hit the 5 reviews mark. The reason for the 5 reviews mark has to do with the rating process. If you have 5 or more reviews then you get a star rating also and this gives a small boost to your listing. DO NOT make fake reviews. Google has hundreds of the best PHD computer science majors and they are employing lots of techniques to determine review validity. Any computer you ever use to login to your Google account is recorded and any review posted from that account will be tracked to your Google Places listings. Some great ideas to get real reviews is to just ask your best customers and provide them a link to http://www.google.com/hotpot. Another tip is to include the link http://www.google.com/hotpot in your email signature for your business reviews. Don’t shoot for 5 reviews in one day. Spread it out over a period of time.
7. Build Links – This factor has always been important for Google Places but with the recent beat testing of mixed Organic within the Places ranking it is going to increase as a factor. The idea is to get back-links that include your service area and address. Use the service area as the anchor text and then within the article or posting include the address. The number of back-links you need to do will vary based on the competition. I have found it very helpful to building back-links to your Google places page using address, business name, phone #, and related keyword phrases. To find your Google Places link, login to your Google Places account, look in the top right hand corner and select “Link”. This is the URL that you will build backlinks to.
8. Get Listed on Other Directories – You should be listed in all the major 3rd party directories like Merchant Circle, City Search, etc. You do not have to do the paid listings with any of them. If the directory does not have free options then skip it. A great website to help you http://getlisted.org
9. Local Citations – Don’t miss this important step. It plays a big part in your position within Google Places. You want to be listed in all of the local sites like your local chamber of commerce site or Think Local First (if your area has this type of local business support organization). You may not be able to get an actual link in many of them but you can in most every case post a citation. This means having a listing that mentions your company name and address. I have heard of many people on the top of Google Places by doing creating local citations.