Google+ Local

If you’re a business owner, you probably know about Google Listings, the business listings with maps that show up when you search for a local company. Now, Google has finished the process of integrating Places with “Google Local” calling it “Google+.” There’s a bit of buzz about it right now, and, I might add, for good reason. You’re probably wondering why you should you know more about it….

Suffice to say, that this is perhaps THE most important thing to happen on the internet in recent history. In October 2010, Google leveled the playing field. Up until this point, keywords and other behind the scene factors made the difference of where your business placed on Google’s all important page 1. And, if you are not on page 1, its unlikely potential customers will find you.

This is why we’re really excited about sharing this information with you.

Make no mistake about it, claiming and optimizing your listing in Google Places and Google+ is the fastest and simplest way for any local business to get huge amounts of visibility in the most coveted advertising space on the planet today… the VERY TOP of Google Page 1. And, it’s all for FREE.

On the 20th April 2010, Google Local Business Centre became Google places. In the blink of an eye, Google made one tiny little change to LOCAL search results and literally changed the game everybody was playing.

Google changed the organic results of local business search from what was known as the “Google 7 pack” to a more complete listing of local business. At that time, about 74% of all searches were for local services, and recognizing this, Google made allowance for more listings to be shown.

If you were to type into the Google search bar any type of business plus a location term such as a town or city, Google will give you a list of potential businesses for that area. If you search the terms “plumber Toronto”, the result might look something like the screenshot below. Notice that Google shows the first 7 “Google Place” listings, with a map to the right. The balance of the page shows the “organic listings” which feature a jumble of related content with corresponding websites, directories, and may even include things such as reviews.

If someone searched right now for your business, in your town, where does your listing come up?

Google Places 7 pack

Before you start, you should know that even though this report will give you a distinct competitive advantage over your competition, and just about every other company in Canada, it is not meant to be exhaustive. The information contained in this report will give you the foundation of correctly optimizing your Google Places listing and will get you well on your way.

But, like everything on the internet, sometimes even the rules can change. The good news is that if you focus on providing what Google wants – good, reliable, searchable information – You will always win.

Google has changed the way a customer finds a local business …Forever!

For the launch of Google places in April, 2010, Google built nearly fifty million pre-made, high ranking “websites.” Companies that didn’t have a website suddenly had one. Google continues to roll out free goodies on a regular basis, but this one was a game changer! Even companies who aren’t aware of it now receive free traffic every day – and close to 97% of all businesses haven’t even claimed their listing yet!

Google has leveled the playing field.

Now, all businesses, not just the big ones, have an equal ability to compete, and with a much smaller marketing budget.

Right now, people are searching the internet for local services or products instead of using the Yellow Pages phone book or newspapers. If they do not find your business when they search, you have a problem! They will be finding your competitors instead!

If you have a local business, chances are you already have a Google Places listing – all you need to do is claim it! If you do not yet have a listing, you can create one.


How To Correctly Claim Your Google Places Listing

Company or Organization Name

Before you actually start editing your listing, you’ll need all of the correct information for your business. It is vitally important to list your real business name exactly as you would list it a paper phonebook. If Google detects a discrepancy between your business name, your website, or other online advertising such as other online directories including your Google Places listing, you could potentially be penalized. Consider getting professional advice to avoid making errors when making changes to your listing.

Business Address

Your business address is also very important. You need to be very consistent with your address when creating listings. Google may see discrepancies when it indexes the address on your listings, your website and other internet directories. One test that you should do is to enter your complete business name into your browser and see what comes up. Type your full business name into a browser and see what comes up. If you see differences in the name or short forms of your address, take note. You will want to update these directories as soon as possible.

Phone Number

Use a local phone number instead of an out-of-province or toll free number as your primary phone number. Customers (and Google) will recognize the number as a local number they can trust. Also avoid any other symbol other than dashes and brackets to separate the numbers, e.g. (124)456-7890, or 123-456-7890. For instance, do not use something like123.456.7890.


A keyword-rich description is vital for achieving a high ranking in Google Places because it is the main thing that determines who and what your business is all about.

It’s also the first place that potential customers look to see if you offer the specific goods or services they’re looking for.

A well-written, concise, keyword-rich, targeted description is absolutely necessary for ensuring the success of your marketing results. You’ll want to use as much of the 200 characters allowed when writing your description. Make sure you write for your human visitors while including the most important search terms for your business. Avoid “keyword stuffing.”

If you are unsure what your top target search terms are for your business, you might consider using the help of a marketing consultant who can help you understand how to fully optimize your listing. Selecting the best keywords with high search volumes is something that a marketing consultant knows how to do.

One free tool that is very helpful is the Google Keyword External Tool. Simply type words or phrases in to the search box and you’ll see all of the possible related terms and their traffic volumes.


Picking the right category is really vital and could be the subject of a very extensive discussion. It is a task for a marketing professional and is critical if you want your listing to be optimized. Google matches the categories with your website content and the keywords in your Google Places description to make sure that that they’re consistent. You may choose up to 5 categories.

Here are some important steps:

  • The first category that you choose should be one of Google’s categories. As you start typing your category, you’ll see a drop down list of possible categories. You must select one of these for your primary category. Select the closest match. Avoid adding one that you think out to be there.
  • Your other four categories should ideally be categories in Google’s list, but this is not a requirement. You might be tempted to create your own category, but first you should consult Blumenthals Google Places Category Tool:

  • Google will look at the five categories in the order that you place them. The most important category goes at the top, and the least important category goes in the fifth slot. This is a vital decision to ensure you’re ranked highly for terms that users search for. The decisions you make will depend on your marketing goals.


If you already have a website, with your own domain name, go ahead and enter it in the appropriate field. If you have a “blog” or a “free” type of website, you might want to get your own domain as it will likely be made up of the same words as your company name and therefore have more authority.

There are so many “free” things available on the internet today, it’s hard to keep up or choose which are right for you. For example, another free service has just been introduced, one that gives you your own free website with your own free .ca domain name! That’s right, free… for one year, but hey, it will get you started without a lot of fuss. Go to

Service Area

If you have a business that the client always comes to your place of business, then you are going to want to list your storefront address. If, however, you have a business that does work offsite, or if you work from home, Google allows you to list your service region and hide your address. Google has a “Service Area” feature which allows you to designate your target service area radius, up to 100 kilometers, or list specific cities or towns that are your main target area of business. Keep it as small as you think prudent, because Google wants to provide local customers with relevant local businesses.

Now that you understand all of the key components of Google Places, It’s now time to Claim Your Google Places listing…. Follow these steps for best results:

Step 1: Create a Google Account using the correct type of email address

In order to claim or create a listing, you must create an account with Google. Creating an account with Google won’t mean that you need to change your current email. Don’t panic as it is only an interface between you and Google.

It is also important to understand that when you list an email address, using one type of email address over another can make a profound impact. Remember, you do not need your Gmail email address for anything other than logging into your Google Account and using any of the many free tools and services.

You can create a Google account here:

The first field you will edit is “Your current email address.” Again, avoid using a Gmail email address, and whatever you do, don’t use an email from AOL or Hotmail or any other free email provider.

For best results, use an email from the exact domain name of the website you’re going to be listing in Google Places (the “domain” is the word/s that come after “@” in an email address, but before “.com” or “.ca” prefix). If you don’t yet have a website, you could use a Gmail email, but when you sign up for one try to find something like “”

Step 2: Find your free Google Places listing and claim it.

Find your free listing by typing your company name and the city or town where you live in your browser. You should be able to locate your listing easily from within the Google Places listings, and if so, click on the blue “places page” link to the right.

Or, go to and login using your Gmail username & password. Click on “Add a New Business” as shown here.

Google Places sign up

Then, select your country and enter your local business phone number. Then select “Find business information”.

You should now see a listing, similar to the one below. Look in the middle top area for the “Edit this place – Business owner?” By clicking this link you will get to edit your listing.


Google Search for ABC Plumber




…If, by chance, you have trouble locating your listing….

Do NOT create a new Google places listing, unless…

Google indexes everything on the internet. If your company is listed in another business directory, then Google already knows about your business and has set‐up a sort of “holding place” for your business within Google places.

If you are sure that no such listing for your business exists, then go ahead and create one. This might be the case if you work from home or have a new business that isn’t listed in any directories as of yet.

Step 3: Finally, You Can Now Activate Your Google Places Listing

After you have finished editing and adding as much relevant data as possible, you will want to save and activate it. Don’t worry too much about not adding everything. It’s important that you save it and activate it as soon as possible.

After you’ve saved it, Google then gives you three options to activate your listing: By phone, by mail or by instant message. Phone and text activation is instantaneous, while activation by mail can take 3-6 weeks!

To activate by phone, make sure that you are physically located at the phone number of the business you are attempting to activate. When you select “activate by phone,” the phone will ring and an automated voice will give a PIN that you will then enter to activate your listing.

Adding Images and Videos

After activation is complete, you can go ahead and add up to 10 photos and 5 videos. Only 5 photos and 3 videos will show up on the places page, but the rest can be accessed by clicking a link. These are important because Google views them as real content. Google can’t really “see” images or videos, so the description and tags are of upmost importance. Make sure to use descriptive “alt tags” to compliment your target keywords.

Google Places Offers & Reviews


One of the key elements of Google Places is the “Offers” section. By creating an offer or coupon you can potentially drive tremendous amounts of traffic to your front door. Google likes to see the offers and information kept updated and relevant.

Customers can either print your coupon offers or use a mobile coupon. Customers with mobile coupons will simply show you the coupon on their mobile phone to get the discount without having to print it out.


Getting your company reviewed on Google Places will also help your business get a better ranking. If you take the time to look, a few businesses already have a lot of reviews and these typically are featured “above the fold” or in the first 3 spots. If you really want new customers to investigate your business, get several hundred positive reviews on Google. Here are some ideas for soliciting reviews from your customers.


Making the perfect Google Places Listing

If you research the most competitive search terms, you will see some of the best Google Places listings available. Although those listings were probably optimized by Internet marketing professionals, they have undoubtedly used all of the techniques discussed in this guide.

There are plenty of examples of good Google Places listings and you should try to emulate them when editing your own listings. Be sure to take advantage of everything Google Places allows you to share with potential customers.

People search the internet many different ways, and you can’t possibly hope to capture every single person who might be looking for your product or service. You can, however, make it extremely easy for people to find your business by being prominent in multiple online listings. Google Places is only one of many potential ways customers can find you.

Here is a great resource to help you create and integrate your Google+ authorship and publisher.



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