Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!
This evening, I was creating and customizing a local business listing for one of my clients and I wanted to take a moment to encourage small business owners to do the same. By visiting Google’s Local Business Center and registering your business, you can tell Google all about where your company is located and what it does.
You’ll be providing your physical address, phone number, email, fax and other basic contact information. In addition to this, Google lets you describe your business in a few hundred characters, and also, choose up to 5 pre-set business categories that best describe your niche in your industry (example: Health > Dentistry). You can list your hours of operation, and special information such as license numbers or affiliations. You will have the opportunity to upload up to 10 images of your business, too.
Google will likely ask you to verify your listing via phone or mail so that they know you have the authority to make edits to how you are listed. Tonight, I was told that my client would be receiving a letter in about 2 weeks containing a pin number to make the verification process complete.
Google is then able to use this information when Internet users are making queries for which your business is locally relevant. For example, if you let Google know that you are running a Kosher Deli in Angel’s Camp, California, and then someone is searching Google Maps for such a place to eat while they are visiting the area, Google will be able to show your listing to that searcher. Virtually any business with a physical location can benefit from this and the rewards should only become greater as more and more people know that they can turn to Google Maps for quick answers of this kind.
You do not need to have a website to get listed in Google’s Local Business directory (but I want to add here that nearly any business will benefit from having at least a small website!). At this point in the game, the smartest small business owners are well aware of the benefits of having a website that showcases their business, be it a restaurant, a craft store, or an accountancy firm. If you have yet to get a website in place for your brick-and-mortar store, what a good time this is to begin, and then you can begin learning about places like Google’s Local Business Center that enable you to promote your company on-line.
If terms like Local Search and Google Maps are new to you, please let me point you to this post on basic local search terms. This new frontier is such a good thing for small businesses, and because Google’s business listings are currently free, the only thing you’ll have to spend is a few minutes of your time.