Google+ Local and Google Places

Erika Austin ( is a consultant for Advokate. We asked her to write a blog post about Google Places.

Google Places is a free way for businesses to verify their businesses location and provide more information to their customers. You are able to edit your business hours, provide a link to your website, and create promotional offers.

Google Places shows up in Google Maps and on May 12, 2012, integrated with Google +, Google’s social media (which originally launched as Google Circles in June 2011), to form Google+ Local.

It now allows users to post photos and reviews of locations directly to its page on Google+ Local. Additionally, Google+ Local and Maps also now feature detailed reviews and ratings from Zagat, who was acquired by Google in September 2011.

How to make it work for you

Google Places allows businesses to build up their company’s profile by adding their location and tags that describe your business. If a user was to search for a service like “Lawyer” in a location like “New York City”, it would show with the all of the nearby lawyers in Google Maps. This also ranks very highly in the search results for local listings (see example below).

This does not only benefit local businesses! Registering your company and providing a backlink to your website can improve your SEO, and Google organic listings. I highly recommend all businesses registering a Google Places account. At the least, to verify your address to confirm that you are the owner of the account so that no one else can claim your listing.

Google+ Local, formerly known as HotPot, allows users to rate their experience with your company. This rating has a four point scale: Poor-Fair, Good, Very Good, and Excellent, with the option to comment on your experience. If you have ever written a review yourself, you know that most of these come from either passionate advocates for your brand or dissatisfied customers. It is important to pay attention to both.

Of course we would love to have all great reviews! It shows up next to your listing in Google Maps and Google’s location-based searches which can really improve your click-through rate to your website. This also helps with word-of-mouth marketing, as you are more likely to take a recommendation from a friend than an advertiser.

We hate to admit it, but we all have dissatisfied customers. The first reaction you might have is that a bad review could critically damage your businesses reputation. That is why all companies, both big and small, take a lot of pride in customer service and providing a personal touch to their customers. If this happens to you, try not to take a bad review as an attack, but as a critique.

Would you rather have your customers complain to potential customers behind your back or online, to your face where you have the opportunity to improve? These customers cared enough to give you the feedback of their experience, so it’s important to try reaching out and seeing if you can improve their customer satisfaction. Don’t get too caught up in trying to make every customer happy, compromise is the most that anyone can offer and that is not always good enough. The effort is usually appreciated and if not, then hopefully it will be on the next customer. They might be willing to change their review. Try to see every bad review as an opportunity to improve your company image publically, that you are able to take the feedback to improve.

If you don’t put yourself out there, no one will find you.

Please feel free to ask questions and make comments! I would love to hear feedback and find inspiration for future blog posts.