Google Places Fight For the High Ground
It’s time for small businesses to face it. Google Places is the new high ground when it comes to Internet advertising. Owning it is crucial to winning the overall small business advertising war. Your website is still important as it ever was, but now there’s a new dimension at play and small business owners are waking up to it fast.
When I talk to people about the internet and ranking highly for a given search term I use the phrase “All things being equal” quite frequently. There are no winners when all things are equal, and that’s not the way real life is.
I want you to be the winner!
Be Sure to Cover the Basics
In the spirit of not beating a dead horse I’m not going to over state the obvious basics of setting up a Google Places ad. In order to get to the top of Google Places in your city you must be accurate when filling out your local ad with the (N.A.P.) of your company listing. NAP is name, address, and phone# of your business. And beyond Google Places, it should be the exact same on your yahoo and bing local ads, also any and all online directories (yelp, merchant circle, hotfrog) you list your site with. Consistency is crucial.
Strategically Name Your Images
After that you need to fill your Google Places ad out to completion. Don’t neglect to load up the 10 images Google allows you to load up to your ad. Name them something keyword rich with city and products or services in the name and try to use Jpegs, they’re the industry standard. It doesn’t hurt to make the physical and digital sizes appropriate either. I like making them around 300×300 px and compress them down to no more than 20k. Does this matter? I don’t know but I do know that if Google isn’t measuring load speed on them now that doesn’t mean that some day they won’t. Remember we’re trying to create a disparity between you and your competitor’s ads. The last thing we want is for “all things to be equal”. And we’re doing it for the most important advertising in the small business world. Winning the top spot for Google Places returns is the holy grail of internet advertising!
Will naming the images with keyword rich names work? I really don’t know but they have to be named something. Keep in mind that you’re trying to make things unequal between you and a competitor. I seriously doubt that your competitor is doing this. Most small business owners just load up a logo if they do anything at all. Google has never disclosed the algorithms that determine local returns, in effect, all bases have to be covered, even the little ones.
Moving onward, Google provides a small area on your ad dashboard page in the right column named “Your business info” showing a small bar graph that runs from 0 to 100% completion. Make sure your ad is 100% complete! If it’s not, and one of your competitors is? All things will not be equal, and the disparity will not be in your favor. Everything you do to get your ad completion scale up to 100% will help you rise in the Google Places rankings. If you’re not on the first page of returns you will likely lose a ton of business to a competitor that is. If a consumer finds what they want on the first page, the likelihood of them going on to the second is nil.
When 100% Doesn’t Mean Complete
Now pay attention to this part! Just because your ad says it’s 100% completed doesn’t mean that all things are equal between you and a competitor that is also at 100%.
For some unknown reason Google will show a local ad at 100% completion with no videos loaded onto it, no coupons offered, and no shared updates provided. That’s right! So go create a YouTube channel with a keyword rich name and install 5 keyword optimized videos on it. After that load those onto your Google Places ad in the area provided for videos. You also need to go to your ad once a month or so and share an update with the local community. There’s a small spot at the top right of your Google Places Dashboard with a field provided for this. Sure it will expire in 30 days, but what the hay! Just go post again, Google loves fresh content. It’s like a mini blog on your ad! Use it! And offer a coupon too. Everyone loves a deal, and it’s just obvious that Google wants their users to be happy because they have a coupon.
Do these things and you will come up even higher in the returns than a competitor that you used to be neck and neck with.
So let’s say you do all this work and all things are still equal. Now it’s time to outpace your competitor by having a better website and more local ratings. And this is where the rubber will meet the road in the future.
Finish It All Off by Strapping it to a Quality Website
You need a website that provides your users an easy way to rate your company, preferably a link they can click on that says “Review Us on Google Places” that’s eye catching and in a prominent area. Get their email address and mail them a link to it if you have to, but get them to it! Offer them a small rebate or coupon on future purchases for providing the rating. Make sure to follow up with them and make sure the rating is provided. After 5 reviews you will get a gold star bar under your Google Places ad that makes it very eye catching sitting there at the top of the returns.
So go do these things! And come back here to my blog in a month and tell me how far you’ve moved.
I watched a local painter go from 264th position on Google Places to 11th place in under 3 months. I fully expect to see him in the top 3 next month. Maybe even #1!
There’s only going to be one winner at the end. It may as well be you.
If you think it’s more than you want to tackle give us a call, we do it for a living. 502-744-5555