Google Places

Google Places was a service provided by Google Inc. and was a type of industry book for local businesses. Most of the functions of Google Places are no longer relevant due to Google Plus Local for firm pages or Google My Business. The new platforms make it possible for companies to habe more control over their company data for Google. Moreover, the MyBusiness-Account can be linked to Google AdWords. Entries in Google MyBusiness are used for adverts in Google Maps.

Purpose of Google Places

Google Places entries appear particularly in the Google search results and Google Maps. If you search for a specific subject in combination with a place, such as “electrician New York,” a map will appear above the results, showing red pins, which indicate the locations of the respective businesses. Above SERPs or embedded in between is a list of the electricians shown on the map and their most important contact information. Once you click on the map, it will fill the window. If you, the user, click one of the entries or red pins, the entire map on the right will be replaced by the company’s Google Places entry. The following information will be shown:

  • Uploaded photos
  • Location by section of a Google Maps map
  • Option to start the route planner (destination address is given)
  • Option to write a review
  • Address, telephone number, and other contact details
  • Other reviews collected by Google or other rating services

If Google knows the location of the user, for example, because he is logged into his Google account or is surfing with his smartphone and enabled GPS location services, Google will automatically show the companies that most closely match his location when searching for a specific service or subject without specifying a location (such as just the search phrase “electrician”).

How to create a Google Places entry

In many cases, Google Places already has an entry without the company’s input. The data used are then often obtained from the commercial register or from other industry books on the network. If this is the case, the business owner can take over his Google Places entry by authenticating himself. If no entry exists yet, it can be created. Google provides detailed information on how to do that on YouTube.

First of all, go to the Google Places homepage and start the registration process. The first step is to search for an existing company entry. If an entry already exists, request a PIN, which will be sent to you by mail or telephone and serves for authentication. Otherwise, you first enter the company’s contact data and a suitable industry category and then request the PIN. After the profile is enabled, you can upload photos and even videos for your company entry.

Google Places Reviews

After creating a profile and confirmation by Google, users can rate a place using Google Places Reviews. Reviews and ratings help other users find a suitable place for their activities, such as a dinner at a restaurant or a museum visit.

To post a review, you must first log in using a Google account. The Google My Business home page will then be retrieved, where the visited business can be found. Either one to five stars can be assigned or the user can provide a detailed review.

Google has specific policies that need be followed in order for a review to be published.[1] For example, business owners should refrain from writing their own reviews about their business, since this would create a conflict of interests. Google also provides tips for making the review useful for other users.  

Important aspects of Google reviews

Three aspects are essential for the owners of a Google Places profile.

Increase range through recommendations

Positive recommendations from real customers can lead to an increase in the number of customers. Recommendations are an important signal for potential customers to decide for or against a product, a service or location. Against the backdrop of the share economy, reviews are a form of many-to-many communication. Recipients distribute their knowledge through a review and help other users who in turn after their visit can also write a review on their experiences and distribute it on their social networks.[2]

Keeping customer contact

Business owners can respond to reviews in order to maintain customer contact and improve their services. You can thank everyone for their feedback and comment on negative reviews separately. In doing so, the customer should always be given the feeling that he has been taken seriously and their negative experience with the company will not be repeated in the future. Criticism from customers should be construed in a constructive way to improve the company long-term.

Ratings as ranking factors

Moreover, ratings and reviews are potential ranking signals for Google:[3] The more positive recommendations are available, the more likely it is that the company will appear prominently on Google Search results list and Google Maps. Once a minimum of five ratings exist, they will be shown directly in the different Google products.

Search engine optimization for Google Places

Especially in large cities, it is common to have a lot of companies or service providers in one line of business, for example, gastronomy. When “restaurant London” is searched for, Google is not able to display all company entries which the search engine selected. Again, there is a type of algorithm that can be used for optimization. The following are particularly relevant ranking criteria for Google Places entries:

  • Completeness: The more detailed and complete a profile is, the more information it provides to Google for its relevance assessment.
  • Relevance: Relevance refers to how applicable the company is to the search query. If, for example, a user searches for “Chinese restaurant Chicago,” Italian, Greek or Mexican restaurants will not be shown, whereas Chinese restaurants will be listed with priority.
  • Distance: If Google knows the location of the searcher, preference will be given to nearby companies.
  • Ratings: Reviews on Google or other evaluation portals can indicate the company’s popularity. Positive reviews in particular can have a positive effect.
  • Awareness of the company on the Internet: Other reports in which the company is mentioned, or links can also achieve better ranking.

Unlike in the Google search results, Google Places does not provide a way to increase the ranking through a paid service (such as, with [[Google AdWords]). Accordingly, entrepreneurs can only make sure that their profile is as relevant and comprehensive as possible, to collect positive and genuine reviews, and to increase their name recognition.

References

  1. Richtlinien für lokale Erfahrungsberichte support.google.com. Accessed on 11/24/2014
  2. What is the Sharing Economy? thepeoplewhoshare.com. Accessed on 11/24/2014
  3. The 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors moz.com. Accessed on 11/24/2014

Category