If I were James Bond and a dumpy little guy with a monocle and a white cat kidnapped me and demanded that I get his business visible in Google Places in one hour…the first thing I’d say is “You’ll never get away with it, GoogleFinger!”
After his henchmen handcuff my feet to a portable nuke suspended over a tank of sharks, the second thing I’d tell the bad guy is that it takes weeks or even months to get a business visible in Google Places—and that there’s no way I can do it in an hour.
The bad guy knows that. As he walks away, he tells me that I have one hour to do all the things that will allow him to triumph…or I become shark food and the nuke goes off.
OK, sorry if that’s a bit unrealistic (even for Bond movies).
However, if I were in the all-too-realistic situation of being a business owner who’s not visible enough to local customers in Google Places, who has no time, and drinks black coffee and Pepto-Bismol instead of shaken-not-stirred martinis, one lousy hour might be all the time I can (realistically) spare.
I assume you’re a business owner who has no time. I also assume the reason you’re frustrated is you have created a Google Places listing, you do have a functioning website—but you’re still not connecting with local customers. You’ve tried to get visible, you’re not visible, and you have very little time to change that.
Therefore, my suggestions aren’t the place to start if you’ve never heard of Google Places and have never even tried to get your business to rank well there.
But if you have tried to get visible, and feel you only have about an hour to spare for Google Places optimization, here’s how I’d use that one hour:
First 5 minutes:
I’d log into my Google Places listing to double-check that all my info is 100% correct, and that the name of the listing exactly matches the real/official/legal name of my business. I’d make sure I have at least one photo uploaded, and that I’ve chosen as many relevant “categories” as possible (perhaps with the help of the Google Places category tool). Finally, I’d delete any duplicate Google Places listings that show up in my account.
Next 40 minutes:
I’d submit my business to the main data providers:
I’d then list my business on just a handful of the most influential third-party directory sites:
Obviously, I’d make sure to complete whatever owner-verification processes these sites ask me to go through.
If you want to do these submissions as quickly and easily as humanly possible, I suggest you follow these tips for fast citation-gathering.
Next 10 minutes:
I’d make two changes to my website (if necessary):
(1) Tweak the title tag of my homepage until it meets the following criteria: (a) contains 1-2 of the specific terms that best describe my business/services, (b) contains the city I’m located in and two-letter abbreviation of my state, (c) contains my website name, (d) makes sense to a human reader and doesn’t read like gibberish, and (e) is 70 characters or fewer in length.
(2) Add my business name, address, and phone number to the very bottom of every page of my site. Also known as “NAP,” this needs to be crawlable text—as in not an image. Here are some examples of what to add to the footer of your webpages. Ideally, do this in hCard format.
Final 5 minutes:
I’d whip together a short email that I could send my customers to ask for Google reviews. The email should be a polite, no-pressure request for them to leave you a customer review. It should include a link to where they can go to set up a free Google account (if they don’t have one already) and a shortened link to your Google Places page.
I’d then blast off the email to every customer I could before the hour hand strikes. By the way, make sure you personalize the emails and don’t lead off with a cheesy “Dear Valued Customer.”
Or if I didn’t have my customers’ email addresses, I’d print out or scribble down some instructions and mail them to my customers, Tweet to them, Facebook them, blast out a quick telegraph, or send them a homing pigeon.
If I didn’t have any customers to contact during the last few minutes, I’d spend that time putting together a really good email or materials that I could use to request reviews when some customers do come around.
You’re done. Of course, more time would be nice, and Bond could certainly get even more accomplished if he had more than an hour. It may take a while for Google to digest the changes, but in the course of just an hour you did what you had to do to get visible.
Well done, 007. Now you can hit the martinis and the baccarat table.
Ron Martin says
I assume you’re already at the baccarat table, martini in hand, so you may not see this right away …. but, when you get back, here’s a big high five for a fantastically informative post, and your generous sharing with all of us 007 wannabes. I’ll see what I can do in the next hour, then maybe joint you at the baccarat table.
Well, I had to go to the bar (again) to take a break from sticking it to the bad chaps at the baccarat table…and they happened to have a PC at the bar in the casino, so I was fortunate enough to see your comment real-time. Thanks!
(If you, unlike Bond, have more than one hour and want to know even more steps to do, just let me know.)
Chris Bradley says
Hey Phil, another good post. i came across a guy where i started to do his citations and noticed the name of the business he wants to use isnt the one on the citation sites, its the parent company. The parent company is… Company Enterprises.. while the one he wants to use and uses for customers is.. Company Best Products. should i just change it out everywhere to what he wants or use whats in there.
Without knowing more of the specifics, I’d say change it to “Company Best Products” on every citation site. However, if he’s a franchisee (or in a similar relationship to the company) and “Company Enterprises” is the legal name of his business, you may face a brick wall on some sites (namely Yelp) if you’re not using the “official” name. Give it a try, though.
Chris Bradley says
Thanks Phil, not a franchise so thats answer i was hoping for. Last time i take a friend site where guy works from home, been a pain.
new question on the NAP on each page, can it be in the footer or does it need to be on the actual page.
Hey Chris…nope, doesn’t need to be in the footer. The most important thing is that the NAP is ON the page somewhere. It’s also common to have it near the top of the page; in fact, the benefit of having it high up is that people can see it more easily.
All very good advice. Google places is a ever changing beast and sure has some odd listing results sometimes. In the past I have found that adding an offer helped however it seems not so much any more. Make a short video and put it on youtube then add it to your places account.
Very true, very true. Offers are always good from the human standpoint – encouraging people to take action and get a good deal.
If Bond had time to do a video, he’d do one; I’m pretty sure that Q outfitted his wristwatch with video-shooting capabilities 🙂
This is great stuff to say the least. It’s obvious that Phil Rozek knows what in the heck he’s talking about. I call him the internet marketing and Google Places, best kept secret……sssshhhhhhhh
we don’t want the word to get out to too many competitors now, do we?
Thanks! Do appreciate it
Jeremy Rivera says
What are you thoughts on individual service providers who are part of a company at a specific address, but their own personal brand is unique. Say for example, an esthetician at a spa, or a dentist at a dental suite. What tips would you give to those individuals if they were dangling over the laser shark pool?
I think those people are great–but Google has a problem with their having Google Places listings. To be more specific, the trouble is you can’t have several businesses (and therefore several Places listings) at the same address, or sharks will start circling you.
They’d need to finagle separate, distinct addresses from each other: if the spa is at 123 Main St, the esthetician will only avoid falling in the tank if he/she sets up a Places page using a location like “123 Main St, Suite 10.”
This usually works, though there may be complications if the individual service provider technically doesn’t own a separate business from the “parent.” There’s also potential for a FUBAR situation if there are several people at really similar locations (123 Main St; 123 Main St, Suite 10; 123 Main St, Suite B5, etc.) who offer really similar services; for one thing, there’s a higher chances of Google merging the listings.
So, long story short, the main thing is that the separate listings (for the individuals) would need to have distinct addresses from the parent and from each other.
Jeremy Rivera says
Do you happen know what the process actually is to get a suite # recognized by the post office?
I get what you’re saying, it’s just unfortunate that Google doesn’t recognize that in several industries, you’re an individual contractor working for the same company, so your service is unique. This is especially true in real estate. I usually stress a unique phone # as well though 🙂
Not sure how you’d get a suite # recognized by the PO…nor do I know that you’d need to for the purposes of Google Places.
If you wanted to attempt to get the service providers visible individually, I think you’d just go for the gusto and set up the separate Places pages with whatever addresses. Again, there are potential complications, and I’m not sure that you’d want to anyway, but what I’ve described is how you’d go about it if you were so inclined.
I know what you mean, and more or less agree about how Google should recognize individuals under some circumstances. In the case of RE agents at large firms, it’s tough (though I’ve been able to pull it off).
Gav @ CrunchWebDesign says
Interesting post! I actually planned in my head what I would do with 1 hour before reading and im glad to say we match on most.
One thing I have not really considered for Places Optimisation is the Criteria on Website Title Tag. Obviously I optimised this for keyword/location etc but when you mention website name, do you mean the whole domain? I have never considered this as I have always assumed Google would tie the domain to each places page. Id love to hear your thoughs on this.
Great to hear you’re on the same page (largely) about the 1-hour!
It’s always tough to give people (good) guidelines about title tags, because there are so many “know it when I see it” factors. I’d advise against putting the domain in if the domain is longer than about 30 characters. Or maybe one could simply leave off the “.com.”
A keyword-relevant domain helps to establish keyword-relevance for the domain/Place page–particularly in the case of the “blended” Google Places results. So that’s the first reason why I’d suggest trying to include the domain at the end, if at all possible. Of course, if the domain isn’t particularly keyword-relevant, you’ll still want it in there for “branding” purposes (for lack of a better word).
The other reason is simply that it’s common syntax: people generally are used to seeing the name of the site at the end of the title tag. Obviously, the main purpose of the title tag is to tell people enough about your business that people want to click through to your site. Telling them where they’re going (i.e., the domain) is part of that.
Hope that makes sense!
With the new Google Plus merger, I would love to see an update to this blog post – “If I Had 1 Hour to Get Visible in Google Plus”.
Good call – down the road I’d like to do an update, perhaps when Google+ becomes more of a factor. However, basically all the stuff here still applies. The ranking factors and steps you need to take are the same; the switchover to Google+Local has mostly been a cosmetic change so far – certainly with regard to the basic steps one has to take in order to rank well.
Eric Rajchel says
I’ve heard the Acxiom, InfoUSA, LocalEze before but I would stray away from this if you have a business with multiple locations as I am almost certain they sell your info. We submitted to Infogroup one time and that business received so many telemarketing calls we had to get rid of our numbers and get new ones.