by Lana Goldenberg
Are you a local business? A florist in NYC? A pet care provider in Houston? A restaurateur in Orange County?
If geography is part of how you want to be found – this “secret” tip is for you!
One of the best — and commonly overlooked — free SEO tool is Google Places, a free service that allows your business to show up on Google Maps.
It is also the engine behind the new HotPot service (Google’s response to Yelp), which any businesses with a local presence should watch closely.
Here is my 3-step guide to Google Places:
1) Go to Google Maps and search for your business. Once you find it, you will need to “Claim” this listing as your own, and then verify that you are indeed the owner. Google will walk you through the process by phone or even send you a nice little post card with a PIN.
2) Once your listing is verified, make it “juicy:” add photos, videos, website URL, and detailed descriptions of your products or services. Check to make sure your address, phone number, and hours are current. If there are specific cities or counties you serve, be sure to list those out.
3) Reviews matter – ask your best customers to say a few words in the Reviews section.
As a bonus, Google Places includes a nice analytics feature. It will track “impressions” (views) and “actions” (click-throughs to your website, map, or phone number).