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Google Place Pages: Beyond the ranking

In the Internet marketing world, we tend to get hung up on rankings and pure numbers. Of course, that is one of the beauties of the Internet in that it can all be measured. Oftentimes though, we get hung up in the numbers and forget the business application of certain aspects of the Internet marketing fabric.

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I am seeing this with Google’s Place Pages. There are a lot of very bright people out there talking about how to get ranked in the local SERPs and that’s good. The trouble is that the obsession with rankings often overshadows the other useful business reasons to optimize a Place Page in Google.
Since ranking in your Place Page is not easy, it is often ignored. That’s a shame .As a result, both SMBs and large businesses that can benefit from having a built-out Place Page and the ultimate end users, those looking for the information, can be cheated out of a great resource.
Ranking is important when someone is doing a pure search. They have a general idea of what they want and they are asking for Google to sort through the entire group of options and make sense of too much information. That’s what happens at the head, or broadest, part of a search. In local search that head is smaller because options are cut down due to geography—but it can still be broad.
But there is a very important kind of search that needs to be understood by businesses— the referral follow up or the direct search. Another common misconception in the Internet space is that online marketing is the be-all end-all, while all other marketing is going to become extinct. Let me just tell you what I think of that: it’s stupid talk.
Business is being done through all mediums and through interpersonal interaction (you remember the handshake don’t you?) as well as online. All of these are channels that need to be used to reach different people in the many different ways that they gather business data.
A common factor in most of these situations is that secondary research is performed. You see, if someone sees an ad on TV or in a magazine or they are handed a business card (which they will lose) or even given a personal introduction there is a good chance that they won’t retain all of the most important information. What they might remember is the company name and where it is located.
So what is their best option at this point to get that information they want? Go to Google and do a search with the data that you have (that company name and a city). What you are effectively doing now is a local search, and there is a good chance you will get a “one box” result, which is a map with one pin in it for the company and the location you are searching for. As a marketer, there is no better showcase because you have a large visual representation of your company data amongst the standard blue text results.
See below.
Place Page for Business.jpg
At this point, the searcher can click on the map and get a map result which eventually leads to the Place Page. Of course, they could also click on your Web results but humans are visually cued in many cases. So, while I don’t have statistics on how many people click on the Place Page result versus the standard results, why would you not have a fully optimized and verified Place Page result ready to receive them and convert them into a true prospect? It’s low-hanging fruit for this particular kind of search.
There’s more to talk about regarding the pure business reasons to have a fully optimized Google Place Page. I just ask that you don’t get caught up in the pure search aspect of the Place Page since it can serve as so much more in your overall marketing mix.

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