I mean this literally. If you’re a business with a physical location that serves customers, having a Google+ Places for Business listing will put you on the Google map that appears on the right side of search results – and if you don’t have a Google+ Places for Business listing, you’re not on this map.
When looking at the map, you’ll see various pins. These pins correspond to a section of the search results that lists the businesses. In the above image, the pin labeled “A” matches up with “Super Duper Pizza”. It’s not uncommon to see businesses with a relatively low profile getting great exposure as is evident in the above example where Super Duper Pizza is listed well above Boston Pizza.
In addition to listing the business names in that particular section of the search results, their web address and contact information are also displayed, along with links to their respective Google reviews.
Google reviews are another powerful feature of Google+ Places for Business listings. Reviews aren’t a good fit for all types of businesses so they’re not always present. However, when they are there, they can be quite helpful to people. Consider the above example. If someone has never heard of Super Duper Pizza they may be persuaded to give them a try if the reviews are positive.
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For Super Duper Pizza’s listing, the searcher has the choice of clicking on the business’ URL to visit the website, or they can click on the Google reviews link and be brought to Super Duper Pizza’s Google+ Places for Business page. Here, the contact information is restated, there’s access to another Google map pinpointing the business’ location, and the business hours are posted. Business hours are a very useful reference for people. Personally, I know I often search for a company’s business hours while I’m planning out a day of running around to stores, especially on Sundays when store hours may be limited. In the case of Super Duper Pizza, a searcher may want to know how late they stay open because they’re looking for an after-midnight delivery. Super Duper Pizza’s Google+ Places for Business page also features “street view”, which is a picture of the business (or at least the building) from the perspective of someone on the street. This is particularly handy when planning to visit a business on a street with many strip malls. Now you’ll know which mall to visit without having to strain to spot street numbers.
It doesn’t look like Super Duper Pizza has taken full advantage of their Google+ Places for Business page as they could add pictures of their various menu items, and they could also write a short description of their business. Despite these shortcomings, their Google+ Places for Business page is great because of the reviews. They’re glowing, and the reviewers have done a good job of describing the pizza so the reader can imagine it compared to other types of pizza on the market. As any business owner knows, you can’t make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time, so there’s bound to be bad reviews. Businesses, however, can respond to customer reviews. This allows for the opportunity to dig into the root cause of the dissatisfaction, or perhaps offer a sincere apology if it’s warranted.
According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. This makes sense, especially considering that people are searching on their smart phones while they’re out and about. This stat underscores the importance for local businesses to be found when people are looking for them, and Google+ Places for Business can really help businesses, large and small, be easily found. After all, if you’re not on the map while people are making decisions, you might as well be invisible.