I previously posted and article on how and why local businesses should leverage web 2.0 technology. Like usual, Google has a solution in the form of their Local Business Center product. Google’s Local Business Center allows small and local businesses to appear on Google Maps and some relevant Google searches.
For example; my previous business venture Four Elements is listed with Google’s Local Business Center as a company offering “Business Development Service” in Allentown, NJ. If you Google “Business Development Service in Allentown, NJ”, a piece of Google Maps shows up at the top of the results with 7 local businesses listed next to the map. Four Elements shows up at the top of this list, so people who made the search can view our website, phone number and location on Google Maps. That person can also click more information, which directs them to a full page profile of Four Elements. On this profile page, anybody can get the following information:
- Directions to/from our location
- Our web pages
- Payments accepted
- A short company description
- Email address
- Reviews from clients/customers
- Photos and videos
If you own a business with the ability to offer coupons on certain products, Local Business Center allows you to include coupons with your listing. If you own a pizza parlor and want to offer 10% any second pie, simply fill in the details on your Google coupon and your customers can print it out and bring it to your restaurant. This option of adding a coupon to your business listing is completely free and only takes a few extra minutes of your time.
My favorite part of the Local Business Listing is the Google Analytics type dashboard, which allows you to view the number of impressions and clicks in graph form and list form. The number of clicks on your listing is broken down even further into three parts:
- Clicks for more info on maps
- Clicks for driving directions
- Clicks to your website
Lastly, the dashboard shows the top Google search queries for which your business listing appeared, along with the number of times users saw your business listing in the search results for those queries.
Every local business owner should set themselves up on Google’s Local Business Center. It’s completely free and takes under 10 minutes to complete. Next time your scratching your head, thinking about ways to cost-effectively reach more potential customers; visit Google Local Business Center and grow you business while lightening your expenses.
Here is how to get started!
- Go to www.google.com/localbusinesscenter
- Sign in with your Google Account (if you don’t have a Google Account yet, start by creating one).
- Click “Add new business” once you’re logged in, and add your basic business details as you’d like them to appear.
- The map on the left will zoom into your location as you type in your address. You can move the marker if our best guess isn’t quite right.
- Write a business description that emphasizes the qualities that make your business unique.
- Select the listing to claim, or add a new one (if your business doesn’t match any listings, skip to Step 9.)
- From the list of options, click the “Claim Listing” button next to the one that’s most similar to your business.
- If your business isn’t there, click the “Add Listing” button at the bottom to create a new listing. Note: In the list of close matches, if the business name on a given listing is wrong but the address is right, click “Claim Listing” and Google Maps will use your preferred name. However, if the address is wrong and you can’t receive mail sent to that address, you won’t be able to verify your claim. In that case, you should click “Add Listing” at the bottom of the list to create a new listing.
- Add details to help your business stand out.
- Select from the category listings that appear as you type.
- Add your hours of operation — this is useful info for repeat and potential customers alike.
- Add an image to help your listing stand out in Google Maps search results. You can use both snapshots and logos.
- If you have videos on YouTube, you can place them directly in your listing.
- You can also add relevant info that doesn’t fit anywhere else, such as delivery zone, house specialties, return policy, or whatever else you’d like to share.
- Verify your listing, by phone if possible. If you have easy access to the phone number on your listing, choose phone verification. Google will call you and, once you enter a PIN, your listing will immediately be verified.
- If you aren’t near the phone or have a voicemail system, choose postcard verification. Google will send you a card with a PIN for you to enter before mailing it back.