A Google Places Page – Maps Lesson – When Not To Believe Your Own Eyes

“But I am already showing up on the first page,” my neighborhood bowling alley proprietor told me the other day. And he was right. Even though he had no web site, and had done nothing at all to get top ranking, there he was listed number three on the Google Map for the keyword “Bowling.”He wondered why he should pay me to help him get his listing set up properly. And it was a good question. Just six months ago, it would have cost him thousands of dollars to get anywhere near the first page results. Today, he was sitting near the top, pretty as punch, having spent zip!The new Google Places phenomenon is just beginning to take hold, and one of its biggest positive attributes may actually be retarding its growth in a bizarre manner. The places page is all about local business. It takes advantage of Google’s ability to recognize the computer searcher’s location. If you are in zip code 55417 like I am, and search for “bowling” you will get Skylane’s Bowling, a ten lane mom and pop alley in the top 3 listings. That’s because they are the only bowling alley in my zip code.Now if you were on the other side of town in say zip code 55429, you might have to scroll down to page 17 or beyond to find them. Why, because the beauty of Google Places Pages is that they are local. The entire idea is to provide searchers with the most relevant results to meet the implied need of their search.In months and years past, if you were to search for a chiropractor online, you would get a lot of generic chiropractor sites and maybe a listing or two from New York or California, even if you lived and were doing your search from Minneapolis. Not very helpful. Today, a search done in Minneapolis will tend to show those establishments closest to the searcher – kind of.Google actually uses a variety of factors to determine which listing gets placed in what order. And it’s clear that local proximity is one valid, and useful criteria, but it is far from the only. Those of us who work with Google Places know that there are multiple things that you can and should do to gain the top listing and we also know that it will matter in terms of how many calls and how much business you get.But for the typical business owner who does not follow internet marketing as closely or at all, their search for themselves online may give them a false sense of pride. As my friend John the bowling proprietor saw, his listing had a very local advantage, but he needs to draw customers from beyond the immediate area. This is true for most small businesses. Thus it is important that they learn how to effectively set up and promote their Google Places Pages if they are to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market place.So if you are a local business and are feeling good about your new found high ranking on Google Places, be cautious. You are likely not as highly ranked elsewhere in your market area, and if you fail to take action to properly complete and promote your Google Places Page, you will eventually be shoved off the first page as your competitors learn the tricks of the trade to raise their listings above yours.

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