Google Places: Why It’s Important to Small Business


Google Places gives every business a dot in Google Maps attached to a web page, and your small business probably already has a Google Place page. Map search is the new local Yellow Pages and it’s a place where small businesses can shine. Together, Google Places and Google Maps represent the most exciting opportunity for small businesses ever.

Your small business probably already has a Google Place page: If you own a small business, whether you like it or not, Google has probably already mapped it in Google Maps and created a Google Places web page about it. Most of these Google Place pages have been populated with information harvested from all over the internet – often small businesses don’t realize that their customers have been talking about them on the web.

The Yellow Pages is dead:

At the same time that Google Places has been improving in functionality and data richness, there has been a decline in the popularity of the Yellow Pages. Some businesses have responded to this by reviewing their web sites in the hope their customers will find them using a standard Google Search. However, unless a customer’s search term is highly focused, businesses are unlikely to rank highly in Google search results. Google estimates that three-in-four people click on one of the top three search results and then search no further. This means that unless your business ranks in the top three search results then its unlikely to be clicked on.

Map search is the new local Yellow Pages and it’s a place where small businesses can shine: The good news can be found in another Google statistic – the one that says that one in five Google searches have local intent. This statistic makes Google Places very important to a small business because the search competition is much lower for a Google Map search than it is for a Google Web search. For example, although a standard Google search for “cafe” will deliver results that at best will relate to the whole of the city the searcher is in, a Google Maps search for “cafe” will return results only for the map that’s currently on-screen, or on the basis of a location specified by the searcher (eg. café in Edithvale).

This means that the likelihood that you will be found by your customers is much greater in Google Places. So, if you’re a cafe, you no longer need to compete with cafés on the whole of your city, just other cafés in your local area. Hence the relevance of an old saying that goes “when a lion is chasing you, you don’t need to be the fastest runner in the world, just faster than the person running next to you”!

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