To localize online business through Local search is another major milestone many business owners would like to achieve. By registering in Google Places, one can enable Google to identify his business, service with a specific area and location.
Why local search is important?
Location based searches now roughly accounts for one third of search queries and it’s gaining more and more attention in Facebook . Users are searching for local business or services for shopping, dinning information, also for convenience, free giveaways and coupons etc.
The listing service is free of charge. It would enable users to find your web presence at the top of Google’s search result page if it’s done correctly. Business competitors will take advantage of the freebie if you don’t.
Your business presence will also be shown on Google’s map with address, phone number and other information you provide.
For example, searching for hotels in Hong Kong will end up with a search result page in Google as follow. There are cases that the profile is not done properly or you find the business profile is not created by yourself, it would be for your benefit to claim the business page and optimize yourself.
How Google Places work?
Google Places has a training video to guide through its registration process and explains its benefits. In a nutshell, a number of things is required to do
- Have a Google account for a business setup
- Select a country eg. Hong Kong
- Fill out contact info such as, contact phone number, website address, business category , business operating hours, payment methods, photos, video etc
- A PIN is required to verify you own the business – Google says it takes 2 weeks
As soon as Google Places has confirmed your ownership of the business, you can make your profile page more informative and search engine friendly. Google will give penalty to content farm following its new algorithmic change in Google Panda Update, so spend some time to make it useful and usable to users.
You can check out Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong profile below which laid out its content nicely
Although local search implementation recently becomes a disputable issue within Google departments, leading to a direct conflict between Google web spam team and Marissa Mayer’s controlled Google Places, TG still submits web sites to Google Places to increase site find-ability.
Other Local Search options?
Yahoo and Bing seem to provide local search and local business directory only within United States. They require users to fill out required fields – local major US cities and ZIP codes in order to complete the process. If anyone of you have found some other options, we would be appreciated to learn how to do it outside United States.
To run an eCommerce web site for users in different locations requires more user research and user-centric design approach in search pattern. ClickZ.com has come up with a top 10 list when localizing a site, individual page, or any digital content you create. You will find it interesting to read.