Google Places for Business

As we mentioned in last week’s installment of our Social Media Series about Yelp, it’s important to claim and manage your business’s unclaimed listings that are already out there on the internet. Similar to how iPhones use Yelp (via Siri) to find the best local businesses that fit a user’s needs, Android phones index Google Places for Business listings to do the same. Since 28% of users are searching for brokers or local agents using their mobile devices, it’s important to find and claim your Google business listing today.

Unfortunately, Google can be confusing. There’s Google+ Personal Profiles, Google+ Business Pages, Google Places for Business, and Google+ Local. So which ones should you be using for your real estate business?

We’ve already discussed how to and why you should use Google+ Personal Profiles and Business Pages, so today we’ll focus on Google Places for Business. What’s the difference, you may ask? A Google+ Business Page is a social media tool, a place to interact with clients, other real estate agents, join communities, etc. On the other hand, Google Places for Business is essentially a Google Maps listing. Meaning, when people search Google Maps to locate your business, your Places for Business listing will come up.

Like Yelp, it’s likely Google already has your business listing on the web, but it’s important that you claim and manage it. First, type in your business’s address into Google. Once you locate it on the map, click the red pointer icon to see the exact marked address and then hit “more info.” This will take you to the Google Places for Business page for that location. Scroll down and hit “Manage this page” in the “Is this your business?” box. This will direct you to a log-in page for your Google account. Once you sign in, you’ll be asked to verify the business as your own and agree to the Terms and Conditions of the site. If you can’t find your business by typing in the address, you can go directly to the Google Places for Business home page to get started.

Once you’ve claimed the business as your own online, Google will send you a postcard with a code to verify that the location and site is indeed yours to manage. Once you’ve received the postcard, entered the code and your Places for Business page has been confirmed, it’s time to start managing your page. From the sidebar you can access your Listing; this is where you can update the business name, address, contact info, category, hours, description and add photos. You can access your Google+ Business Page, AdWords Express, Offers and Insights (like Google Analytics) accounts from the sidebar as well.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to see any reviews that have been written about your business on the page. Unlike Yelp, you can’t respond publicly to positive or negative reviews, but you can contact the reviewer personally through their Google+ profile. Simply go their profile, and under the Posts tab, click “Say hi to [name of reviewer]” under Hangouts. As outlined in our “Battling Bad Reviews” article, it’s important to keep your composure when responding to negative reviews of your business.

Once your page is set up with the vital listing information, you won’t have to do much maintenance. Therefore, with minimal effort and the added potential mobile and SEO benefits of having your Google Places for Business listing claimed and personalized, adding this site to your real estate business’s list of websites is a win-win.

Please leave any questions or comments below, and tune back in next week for “How Hashtags Help Real Estate Professionals.”

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