In the last decade, Google has become a powerhouse for businesses and customers, transforming from a web search engine to a household verb and ever-present companion for planning and navigating our daily routines.
The convenience of digital maps, like Google Maps, along with the rise of the smartphone and other tech advances, have fundamentally changed how customers interact with companies. From discovering locations and planning routes to sizing up a business’s value, the importance of Google Maps and Google Places – and how your business is listed, managed, and perceived on these platforms – is immeasurable.
Here’s what you need to know about Google Places and Google Maps and how to leverage your business listing in the right way.
A Brief History of Google Maps
With more than a billion users, and millions of miles of streets captured around the globe, Google Maps has become an interface between the physical and the digital world.
But it certainly didn’t start that way. Google Maps began as scribbles on a whiteboard in Sydney, Australia. Google transformed a vision originally cast by Where 2 in 2004 and ultimately led the charge to make mapping available on the web.
And with that, Google Maps was born.
By 2005, Google Maps was released to the public with a map of the U.S.
Over the next two years, the internet giant began testing on mobile platforms and adding public transit schedules to the product. By 2007, it had launched Maps in 60 countries and integrated Maps directly into Google.com search results.
Once a standalone application, Google Maps quickly evolved into a much more sophisticated and customizable tool, dramatically helping both customers and businesses.
Today, Google Maps offers integrations to applications like Google Places, allowing businesses to provide detailed information about who they are, where they are, and what they do, and to upload images and videos.
What Is Google Places?
No matter your industry, it’s vital in today’s digital world that your business is listed online and easily findable. With Google Places, creating a listing is free and is especially important for businesses whose customers are local or are searching within a specific location.
Google My Business, which supplies data to Places, is an added feature to maps where business owners can claim their business listing and engage with potential customers researching their options.
On your business listing, you can provide data on your address, ratings, contact information, and general atmosphere, as well as monitor your customer reviews. You can also input opening hours and specify your service areas.
You can think about Google Places as your business’ one-stop shop for customers to learn about where you are, who you are, and how you operate. Plus, because Google Places uses geolocation and geocoding features in combination with up-to-date data, your business can get customers the information they need, precisely when they need it.
Ultimately, what you need to hear is this: Google Places should be a priority for any business looking to take advantage of the online community, which, in our digital landscape, likely applies to your business.
Google Maps vs. Google Places: Should I Care About Both?
If you’ve used the internet or have a smartphone, chances are you’ve used Google Maps. And because of its integration with Google Places, a user can view local business listings right in Google Maps.
So how does this work when a user is actually in the Google Maps application?
Let’s say a user searches for a restaurant near their current location. They could search for restaurants in the area and Google Maps would display 20 local restaurants. When a user clicks on a listing, they’ll see information about the business and a small map. So, if you’re a local restaurant, Google Places gives you the opportunity to optimize your business listing.
But how does Google Places interact with Google’s main search page if a user is not in the Google Maps application?
Beginning in 2011, Google started using Google Places listings instead of Google Maps on its main search page. So, if you’re a local business, you definitely want to create an incredible listing with Google Places to bump up your ranking in a user’s search results.
One way to ensure that you improve the SEO (search engine optimization) on your listing is through reviews.
Why Reviews Matter for Showing Up on Google
Google reviews can give businesses a big credibility boost without having to spend big bucks or much time.
Google’s search algorithms are complex, but the simple conclusion in regard to its effect on your business’s success is this: If you take advantage of Google reviews, you’re putting yourself in a position to rank higher in local search results. And the higher you rank, the easier you’re found.
What’s the secret sauce that makes a great review? According to Moz, it’s a well-balanced combination of three “review signals:” quantity, velocity, and diversity.
- Quantity: The more reviews, the better; customers start trusting business after 7 to 10 reviews.
- Velocity: Create a plan that brings in a steady stream of reviews, rather than adding a bunch of reviews at once, which will actually harm your results.
- Diversity: Although your main focus should be on Google reviews (and the other major platforms), don’t forget to ask for reviews on other sites.
Ultimately, developing a plan for generating a steady stream of reviews and focusing on Google reviews can be one of your company’s most successful marketing tactics.
Take Control of Your Online Reputation
If you want to grow your business in 2020 and beyond, make sure you are taking the necessary steps to improve your local SEO and your online reputation. You can take your brand management strategy to the next level with Binary Fountain’s single integrated platform that makes it easy to manage your online reputation.
A great place to start is our free, on-demand webinar on Google My Business strategies, if you want more information.
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist