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.