Because I worked in both offline and online marketing for many years, I often get clients asking me if I know of effective and low-cost ways to drive traffic to their website or blog. The answer is YES. You can drive more traffic to your site. Best of all? You can get Google to do all the heavy lifting for you and it doesn’t cost you a single dime!
Everyone knows that Google is the leader in global search. Let’s face it. Most people today don’t do business with you before Googling your business name (and sometimes your personal name too!). What’s less known is that Google uses their dominance to be the local leader too.
Here’s what I mean: If you do a search for a geographically-based business such as, “Portland florist” you’ll notice that the first result that shows up is a map with local businesses pin-marked. Try it right now and see what I mean. This is because the business being listed is in the Google local directory, known as “Google Places.” Many business owners that I talk to are not aware that this exists and are losing out on potentially a lot of new customers.
The Official Google Blog describes it as “…more than 50 million places around the world to help people make more informed decisions about where to go, from restaurants and hotels to dry cleaners and bike shops, as well as non-business places like museums, schools and parks.”
This gives you an idea about how powerful (and client attractive) it can be to have a listing in Google Places. It allows a local business owner to include hours of operation, photos, videos, coupons, product offerings and more in the search results that people see. A dashboard is included that will show you all the relevant keyword and search activity relevant to the listing. This allows you to not only control what information is out there in cyberspace about your business, but it also gives you feedback on where your customers are coming from.
Here’s how you take advantage of this powerful tool (you’ll need to set aside about 30-minutes to do this):
- Go to http://www.google.com/places and create an account.
- Next you will be asked to enter the basic info, which includes address, phone number and website address.
- Then you will be asked to select a category for the business – if you don’t see one that fits perfectly, just get as close as possible to your niche.
- Next, you can provide hours of operation, payment options that you offer, photos, videos and any other important details you’d like new prospects to know about you.
- After all the information is entered, you will be asked to verify your website address by phone or postcard. Most people I know use the phone verification method.
- After verification, the local listing will show up in Google after 12 hours.
Woohoo! You now have a very client attractive, no-cost way to drive lots of new visitors to your website each time someone searches for a business in your niche.
Google Places is an important part of any local marketing strategy, and I highly recommend every small business have a listing. Your assignment is to create a Google Places listing this week. It’s easy to create and doesn’t take much time to manage, yet it will increase exposure to customers searching for a local business or service. You don’t need to be a computer nerd to create a listing either – trust me. If I can do it, so can you!
Already have a Google Places listing? I recommend checking your listing once every few months to make sure the data is accurate, up-to-date and to add any news or updates that you’d like prospects to know. I just checked my listing and was surprised to find a lot of my information was out-dated. Yikes!
Let me know how it goes and how your listing works out for you.