There has been a lot of talk about Google Maps over the last couple of years. With satellite images, everyone in the Internet has been able to see our planet in an amazing degree of detail. Street View advanced this technology even further and created a degree of controversy along the way.

The most significant aspect of all this advancement in technology for the business owner is that Yellow Pages is now declining in popularity almost to the point of extinction. That is why a Google Maps overview is important for small businesses to understand.

Despite the globalization of the world, people still like to do business with people in the local area. Some businesses, like restaurants, doctors and dentists, always have clients in their immediate vicinity. You might think that would be good for Yellow Pages, but in fact it is Google Maps which has taken over.

People are so used to going to the internet to solve all their problems, they’re now entering their local search terms into their favourite search engine. This has allowed Google to steer people to Google Maps by inserting content directly into the search results.

Google is constantly changing the way it presents its material, but at the moment, if you were to enter ‘carpenter pennant hills’, you would find your search result entered on the left of the page, and on the right, a large detailed map with buttons showing exactly where these businesses are located.

If you scroll down a little further, you would find the website, address and telephone number of a number of local carpenters, with this information pulled directly from Google Maps or Google Places (which I’ll go into a little later). Sometimes these results even appear at the very top of the page, above the top ranked sites for that search term.

To locate a local business, you don’t have to visit Google Places or Yellow Pages or rely on the businesses themselves having properly optimized their site. You just do a normal Google search and you find the local businesses you want.

It is no longer enough to just do normal search engine optimization. You simply must be listed and visible on Google Maps. It is not at all a complicated process to get this listing. In fact, there is a high probability that you’re already on Google’s database, and it just remains for you to claim that listing and give it a bit of a polish so that you can stand out from the crowd.

Side By Side With Google Places

Google Places is used to populate the data already on Google Maps and allows you to add a photo, the hours of your business, phone numbers and so on. If you go to ‘Extra Support’ at the end of this chapter, you’ll find my video which explains this process in very easy to understand steps. If you’re confident to do it now, go to places.google.com and search for your business. If you find it, it will just be a matter of claiming it. If it’s not there, register your details and wait for Google to do the rest.

As far as creating content for Google Places, just take the straightforward, commonsense approach. Simply choose the appropriate keywords, write attractive descriptions and use targeted keywords. If you want to make a bit more of an impact, try using coupons and special offers. It doesn’t pay to try anything underhand in an attempt to make your entry more visible than the rest.

Apart from those things, the most important part of your listing is the reviews. Don’t ask a whole group of your friends and family to post positive reviews. There is simply no point in trying to abuse this facility and you run the risk of being completely banned. Instead, ask your regular customers to post an honest review of your business and the services you offer. Create a shortcut link (you could try bit.ly) for your Google Places listing. You might even offer an incentive to your customers in exchange for them doing a review for you.

Local search is here to stay, so you should hop on board at the earliest opportunity. If not, chances are you will be left in the wake of your competitors. You can go beyond this Google Maps overview and try our Internet marketing consulting services to help your business gain the online advantage it deserves. Click here to learn more.

Learn to take advantage of Google Maps and Google Places.

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