01– How to report problems with Google Places listings
Sometimes, there are problems with Google Places listings that you need help resolving. The problems may include incorrect information in your listing, spam, duplicate listings, verification issues, and so on.
Remember for verification of your listing, that you may need to wait a few weeks for the postcard and then another week for your listing to appear. If you haven’t received a postcard after three weeks, you can request another. If you’ve entered your PIN and your listing does not appear after a week or two, then you can report a problem to Google.
There are a few ways to report problems to Google regarding Google Places listings:
- If you are working with your own listing, then log in to Google Places and go to your Dashboard. Near the upper right corner, click the Help link. Read through the articles in the Fix a Problem section. If those don’t help, then use the links for Listing Issuesand Verification Issues on the left side of the screen in the “Contact Us” section.
- If you find a problem with another listing that you want to report, you can use the Report a problem form. To access this form, use Google Maps to view the Place listing with the problem. Then scroll to the very bottom of the page and click Report a problem. Follow the instructions on the window that pops up.
In both cases, a person will investigate your claim and get back to you. This may take a week or two. Verify that the problem still exists before you report the same issue over again.
Google Places offers online support only via the above methods. There is no telephone or email support available.
02 – Enter special offers and post updates
Google Places has several additional features for promoting your business—you can enter special offers (online coupons) with expiration dates and also post updates about special events at your business. These features are free to verified Google Places business owners.
To take advantage of special offers and updates, log in to Google Places and go to the dashboard for one of your locations.
To share an update, just type a brief message into the Share an update on your Place page box and click Share to post your message. Updates are great for promoting special events and news about your business. For example, if you have a different special or event each weekend, post your update on Mondays so people will see it all week. You can post new updates as many times as you wish. If you leave an update active, it will automatically be removed in 30 days.
To enter a special offer, click the Offers tab from the Google Places Dashboard. A screen appears that shows your current offers, if any. Here, you can edit or remove existing offers as well as add a new offer. When you add a new offer, you must specify a discount or dollar amount as well as the terms of the offer, including an expiration date. A preview of the offer appears on the right side of the screen. When you are done entering the details of your offer, click Publish to save it. You can have several offers active at the same time.
It’s a good idea to keep your Google Places offers and updates fresh and relevant for each of your locations.
03– Promote your Google Places Page with advertising
So far all of the above features I’ve mentioned are free to verified Google Places business owners. But if you want to add extra exposure to your Google Places listing, you can create a pay-per-click advertisement that links people directly to your business’ Place Page. Google calls this AdWords Express.
An ad from AdWords Express is tied to one of the business categories that you chose for your listing. You can create an ad for each category that is not a custom category. That is, the category is in Google’s list of categories, not one that you typed in yourself.
For this type of advertising, you set up a monthly budget that gets you a certain number of clicks per month. The minimum budget is $150. The actual number of clicks you receive per month varies depending on your budget, your category, and the cost-per-click amount assigned by Google.
There is usually a link to AdWords Express on your Google Places dashboard, but you can also access it here: http://adwords.google.com/express. For more information, visit the AdWords Express help page.
Using AdWords Express for Google Places is optional. If you do decide to try it, I suggest a 90- day trial period. And remember to use meaningful keywords in your headline and ad copy. It helps to specify your location or service area in the ad to reduce the number of clicks from outside your area.
04 – Monitor the performance of your Google Places page
Once you have your Google Places listing and reviews are coming in, you should periodically monitor your account. You can request that Google email you monthly performance updates and other information by checking boxes on the Google Places settings screen.
You can also log in to Google Places and view the dashboard for each location to see current statistics such as:
- How many times your Place Page was viewed (impressions)
- How many times people clicked for more information or to visit your website (actions)
- Top search queries
- Where requests for driving directions originate
If you are asking people to review your business on Google Places, then you must check at least weekly for reviews. Respond to these reviews as needed.
Periodically, check the map position of your Google Place Page for your categories and geographic location. For example, go to Google Maps and type in “seo wheaton il” or “carpentry glen ellyn il” or whatever describes your category, city, and state. Try all categories and keep track of what page and position you show up on. This last step is important as sometimes Google changes its algorithm or new businesses appear, and your Place Page ranking may go down. By monitoring this regularly, you can identify problems quickly and adjust your Place Page if necessary.
05 – Optimization tips for Google Places
You will find many tips available on the web about optimizing your Google Places listing. In fact, an online marketing company, Bizible, has performed a study of the best optimization practices for Google Places. The links to this study as well as a few other optimization tips are below:
- Local Ranking Factors Study 1 of 5 – Google Places Optimization
- Google Places Ranking Factors – The PhD Version
The best tips for optimization are to use categories that describe your product/service, to get at least five reviews on your listing, and to follow Google’s guidelines for Place Pages.
06 – Get additional help with Google Places
To get help with Google Places, click the Help link in the Google Places dashboard or visit: http://support.google.com/places.
For more information, you can search the internet for articles on Google Places and Google Places reviews.
Because Google periodically changes how things work, I plan to update this guide occasionally. If you have any other tips or ideas, please share them in the comments section below.