Yes, Google Places is a free service. Websites are FREE, email marketing is FREE, blogging is FREE, most business directories are FREE, social media is FREE and even ebay listings are FREE (until you sell something!).
What do all of these FREE services have in common?
1. They tie up YOUR time
2. You are not necessarily an expert in using it
3. There are experts in each of these services that are more cost effective, especially when you consider the value of your time
And number 3 is the real key factor. Most business owners are far better off if they focus on doing what they do, rather than tying up their time trying to be an expert in all these things.
Why pay for Google Places management?
Expertise in setting up, maintaining and optimising Google Places listings goes way beyond just filling in the boxes. It is possible with good planning, analysis and a creative mind to deliver up to 10 times the amount of traffic than a standard listing would achieve and more importantly focused on the right type of customer for your business.
Now don’t be fooled by smoke and mirrors, there are a number of unscrupulous providers who will offer to provide a managed listing service when in reality they are doing nothing more than repeatedly charging you for a one-off piece of work.
The key to getting maximum value from Google Places listings is in understanding how they work…
How does Google Places work?
Your average search that delivers a Google Places result is made up of two elements:
2. Product or service
Why is this important? Let me explain…
Firstly, the location (hopefully this is obvious). Whether the individual is based near to you or not, clearly they were looking for some facility, product or service in the area they have searched. It may be they are planning a journey and don’t actually live anywhere nearby, or alternatively it may be their local area, either way it is clear that searches that match your listing are ideal for your business.
Secondly, the product or service searched for matched the details of the Google Places listings that appeared in the results. That may be a good or a bad thing, because you may or may not be able to service their requirement if you didn’t get your listing content right. So here is the first valuable skill of the Google Places expert; identifying the right phrases to go on your listing.
There are a number of other key aspects of listing management that any search marketing agency worth their salt should be aware of including use of synonyms, mis-spellings and consumer understanding of the need or problem that you provide a solution for. I’ll save the detail on these for another blog!
Why is Google Places traffic worth paying for?
Here is the real question, why is this worth paying for? This is as much about the skill of the listing manager as it is about the basis for this type of search, let’s drill into that for a second.
1. Gaining Market Share – If a consumer is searching in this way, they probably didn’t have a destination in mind (a place that springs to mind) which of course is why they are searching
2. High Conversion Rate – The chances are that the consumer has determined what they want and are just looking for where they can buy it from. Give them a good enough reason, e.g. service, guarantee, loyalty, great reviews and you have an easy sale