Nearly five months ago, Google Places became Google+ Local - impacting, yet again, the way small businesses are found on the world's most dominant search engine. Although the changes made for a profoundly better and more intuitive user experience, the transition into this new platform was not entirely seamless for small business owners. If you haven't done your due diligence in regard to the switch, you could be losing valuable business leads...

Copywrite: Google, Inc.

Firstly, Google provides free page #1 rankings for most businesses with a physical location - all you have to do is create a business listing. This process is so simple, in fact, that many companies could fraudulently take over your listing, intercept your leads and, ultimately, sell them back to you or someone else!

In its ongoing effort to be the best source of information, Google allows business owners to create a free business listing. Therefore, if existing or prospective customers are looking for your business, they will be able to easily find your phone number and website. Though Google changes the official name/interface/features of these listings from time to time (i.e. - Google Maps to Google Places to, most recently, Google+ Local), the important thing to remember is that it's free advertising for your business! But wait - it gets better! If you put the right type of promotion into your website and optimize the content for SEO, your free business listing will even show up under non-branded search phrases (the kind where people search for your product or service, not your company name)! Pretty excellent, huh?

Indeed, it is excellent. It's also effective and effortless. However, as I mentioned before, if you don't verify your company's free business listing, somebody else may claim it as their own - stealing your leads for their own profit and gain. This happens every day.

What to Look For:

If you already have a website, you should be cautious about marketing services/programs that offer to create a separate website or profile page for your company. While they can be helpful when it comes to optimizing pay-per-click campaigns and generating additional leads from high-traffic websites, I object to what is often done with these new pages. All too often,  marketing companies will register these new websites/profile pages as the official website in your free Google business listing, costing you potential business.

How to Take Control of Your Free Business Listing on Google:

  1. As a business owner you (or your trusted agency partner) should claim your Google business listings here:
  2. Make sure that your official company website is the only website registered with your Google business listing.
  3. Insist that marketing partners do NOT create new Google business listings to conflict with your official listing.
  4. Insist that marketing partners do NOT create conflicting listings on third-party websites (i.e. - Citysearch, Yelp, BBB, etc.)

That should be a healthy start! However, if you'd like to learn more about protecting your business and growing your brand online, visit Spectrum today!