As Google continues to beef up its online product offerings – Google+, Google Places, and now a hotel-specific search, review and referral system being rolled out – opportunities for small businesses to use cost-efficient local advertising and highly tailored, location specific search engine marketing are better than ever. And in many cases, these advanced SEM techniques will be offering potential customers a valued service just by delivering information.
Some sources suggest that of the roughly two million Google searches conducted every minute, over 400,000 include local keywords. That means 20 percent of searches are already attempting to target local businesses. So those that effectively craft their ads and SEM campaigns to tap into Google places and this huge targeted mass of searches stand to gain exposure to a potential customer group with a far higher likelihood of conversion. This location-specific search targeting is generally a huge boon for small businesses because searchers that use location-based search terms are usually more motivated to become customers, and because it tends to be less expensive to conduct an SEO or PPC campaign that focuses on these less competitive keyword phrases. Google places increases the impact of that advantage.
Listing a business with Google places is free. If you own a business with a local store front, it should be listed on Google places. Combined with the fact that paid advertisements made through Google Places will generally be placed higher than other local localized websites, this makes Google places a very powerful tool if harnessed correctly and used optimally. That’s where SEM experts’ services come into play. The business listing can be optimized to return the listing on searches with the highest probability of conversion, which itself must be determined. Is it more important to show up on searches for a nearby landmark or place of entertainment, or to have a strong ranking with more general local keywords such as the zip code? Furthermore, the SEO of the actual website that the listing and potential Google Places ad link to affects how high those components are ranked.
And because Google Places is essentially a ranking system designed to compete with Yelp, getting good ratings and linkbacks from customers will improve the likelihood that searchers will see the listing. This means that when conducted in concert with a social media campaign, as well as an SEO or perhaps PPC campaign, Google Places optimization can have a significant impact not just on website traffic but foot traffic as well.