If the answer is “Yes”, you’re not alone.
Google Local-Maps-Places (whatever you want to call it) started as Google’s next great idea a few years ago and has since turned into a pretty cool and FREE tool. But as with most of Google’s new inventions, Google Places is far from a finished product and many business owners are becoming frustrated with the inconsistencies.
First and foremost, if you haven’t heard of Google Places and have no clue whether or not you have a listing then you need to be paying attention. A well-optimized Google Map listing will increase your visibility on the search engines and ultimately will increase Web site traffic. Did I mention that IT’S FREE!
Back to the point, Google’s biggest issue is they attempted to build these Maps listings themselves with information gathered by spiders. So most businesses that did not create their own business listing in the last few years were given one based on what Google’s spiders were able to find. The result is plenty of incorrect information and duplicate listings for companies.
The key to taking advantage of Google Places huge upside and getting your listing as close to perfect as possible is patience. There is no help-line and as with Google’s other free-products it is extremely difficult to get any sort of assistance from California. I know it’s frustrating but the listings are free and the visibility is certainly worth the hassle. So, follow these simple steps and watch the traffic start rolling in!
1. Go here: www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter and create an account or log-in if you already have a Google account.
2. Click the “Add A Listing” tab.
3. Type in your business phone number and see if you already have a listing.
4. If there is not a listing then select “Add Business”. If there is already a listing then select that listing and click ”Business Owner?”.
5. In both cases, you will be taken to a page where you can add all of your business information. Enter your business name, address, phone number, hours of operation, URL, select five “business categories” related to your industry, add any pictures/videos you’d like and make sure your business location is correct on the map.
6. Submit your listing and select the Postcard Verification option. Google will mail a verification postcard to your business location and this postcard will contain a verification code. The postcard will arrive in 5-10 days and you will need to enter the code to finalize the process.
Once verified your Google Places listing will go live and you will have the ability to add promotions, photos, videos, etc. to your profile as well as respond to customer praise/complaints. Just remember, be patient, it can be frustrating but the free traffic is worth the trouble!