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What is Google Places?

Ask ten business owners that question, and you will probably get ten different answers. Actully not every busines owner in Ireland knows what Google Places is but the ones that do will tell you different things. One business owner may say Google Places is a micro website. Another business owner may call Google Places an electronic version of the Golden Pages. A third business owner claims that Google Places is a virtual storefront. All three business owners are correct in their descriptions of what is Google Places. Their varied descriptions of perhaps Google’s greatest innovation provide us with the underlying theme of Google Places. Google Places is what you make of it!

The Origin of Google Places
To acquire an understanding of Google Places, you must understand how the revolutionary business listing service came into being. Google combined Google Maps and organic search results into a separate concept called “local searches.” The search engine leader developed a new search filter unique for finding local businesses.

Google created, and then fine-tuned, a unique database that collects detailed information about a business, such as name, phone number, mailing address, email address, and website URL. Google uploads all of the information about a specific business and establishes a “Places” page for that business. Google has developed a platform that allows businesses to tailor their information for potential customers who visit the Google Places business community.

Getting the Most out of Google Places
The more information your business provides on its Google Places page, the more likely your business will rank high in local searches. You can list hours of operation, forms of payment accepts, and current promotions. A SEO friendly 200 word general description of your business will give you a boost in the local search rankings. You can upload up to ten images and five YouTube videos. Google Places allows you to select a business category and geographic descriptor to reach your target market.

Google recently added a tool that can further strengthen you business listing for local searches. The search engine company gathers online reviews and consolidates the information for potential customers to review before deciding whether to contact your business. Reviews come from online business directories and third party review websites. Customers can also post reviews directly on your Google Places page. The power of this tool has prompted shrewd business owners to solicit positive reviews from their regular customers.

Savvy business owners grasp the meaning of what is Google Places. They understand that businesses must rank in the top seven of local search results for their listings to have a significant marketing impact (I call this the “Seven Pack” . They understand that the greatest benefit of Google Places is that the listing service does not cost them any money. After they claim and verify a business listing on Google Places, savvy business owners know how to use tools that allow them to see how many people have viewed their Google Places page and from where the visitors conducted their local searches. These business owners communicate directly with their customers through their Google Places page.

What the Future Holds For Google Places
What is Google Places has now entered a new phase in its revolution. Having a mobile device friendly Google Places page has become paramount in developing an Internet marketing strategy. Google understands the explosion of mobile device users, and the company has responded with its own apps foe iPhones, Androids, and Blackberrys.

Google established Google Places in April 2010. A surprisingly large percentage of small businesses here in Ireland have not taken advantage of this free service. If you own a small business, you should take advantage of Google Places to market your business to people on local searches.There are companies who specialise in helping you get listed in the seven pack (by optimising your Google Places submission) and make it onto the front page of Google.

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