Google Places for Business, maps and G+

Important, free web properties for all dental practices

Setting up Google web properties correctlyGoogle provides several important web ‘properties’ to help local businesses, including dental practices, advertise themselves on the web. The key ones are Google Places for Business, map page and G+ business page. Possibly due to the slightly confusing way that Google integrates these properties and also frequent updates to format, many businesses fail to use them to best effect. In fact we see very few dentists who have them set up correctly.

This article will provide guidelines to getting the basics right, ensuring that your existing patients and potential new ones, have the best chance possible of finding you on the web.

Claim your ‘Places for Business’ page

Google may already have aggregated data from other local sources on the web and automatically created a maps listing for you. From here you can ‘claim’ your local business page and enter additional information to help optimise it – this will enhance your chances in the search results. You can add a description of your business, information about the services you provide and even upload images. It’s well worth being thorough and working on your profile until the indicator that Google provides tells you that you are 100% complete. You also need to be accurate with your business name, address and telephone details to ensure that they match those on your website. This ‘NAP’ (name, address, ‘phone) accuracy is important for local search optimisation as well as providing clarity for users.

Google will also ask you to verify that the page actually belongs to your business, either by sending verification to your ‘phone or by sending a PIN on a postcard to the address details you gave. This is designed to prevent bogus business claims.

You can also set up your ‘Places for Business’ details via your Google account – simply look for the appropriate menu item in the products section.

Did I mention that some of this process can be confusing? Well, to add to this, Google fairly recently started to refer to the local Places details as ‘Google+ Local’ – this came about as they introduced some of the social aspects of Google+ into the basic business data. More about this here.

Is your business location correct on Google Maps?

Making sure your dental practice is located correctly on Google MapsWhen you are setting up your local business details, you will get the opportunity to review the location Google has allocated for you in its ‘maps’ database. If this location is incorrect, you can update it using the mapping details they provide. As with all elements of the various Google properties, it’s worth taking a few minutes to ensure that this is accurate.┬áIf for any reason you are unable to update the location, Google provides a reporting mechanism via which you can report the problem. However, it’s worth noting that it can take several weeks for such reports to be actioned. Google is not renowned for providing customer facing services but be persistent and you should get a response.

Create a Google+ page for your business

Even if you have a website, Facebook and perhaps a Twitter account, a Google+ page for your business is a wise investment in time. Posts to your page are indexed in the search results and will contribute to your SEO. The social features provided by Google+ are similar to Facebook and there is a growing community of users – so whilst it might seem like a chore to set up and manage yet another social channel, Google+ is well worth it.

It’s worth knowing that, similarly to Facebook, you can set up a stand-alone G+ business page without having a G+ personal profile. However, if you are looking to gain Google “authorship” status (more here), then a personal profile plus complementary business page is proven to work well.

Another point worth noting and continuing in the vein of regular feature updates, setting up Google Places for business now automatically creates a Google+ page which you can manage from the same administration console. However, you can also set this up independently from the ‘products’ menu within your main Google account.

Summary

Google provides extremely useful web properties to complement your website, namely “Places for Business”, maps listing and Google+ page. There is ongoing integration across all of these elements which can be somewhat confusing; however it is well worth understanding what each of them does and the benefits they can bring. Setting up each of these free web properties correctly is important for any business – if you would like help with this, please call the Dental Media team on 01332 672548.