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PPC for local businesses: optimize and protect your google places account
  • Nov 23, 2020
  • 3 minutes

PPC for local businesses: optimize and protect your google places account

In this article, you'll learn how to use Google Places to promoting your local business and how to protect the accuracy of your Google Places content.

Using Google Places with AdWords

You don't need a website to be found online. In years past, smaller local businesses found it difficult to advertise online because they didn't have a website. But now, Google provides Google Places as a location online allowing your business to have a web presence without having to build a website. Whether a local company has a website or not, it makes good business sense for a company to create and build out a Google Places account. AdWords is the advertising platform that many local businesses use to create and display ads online. One option that Google has provided to local businesses is that they can create a Google Places profile and then connect the places page to their account in AdWords.

Tips on Linking AdWords to Google Places:

Ensure that you have the correct geographic information. Google will provide a list of cities. Make sure that when you select your city, that it is the city in the correct state. For example, for the city Huntsville, there are multiple states with a city in it by the name of Huntsville (notably Alabama and Texas). 

Recent Changes to Google Places Puts You on Notice

Google allows business owners to "claim" their Google Places by either having a postcard mailed or an automated phone call generated by Google that then allows the business owner additional access in configuring the Google Places content. The owner can add hours of operation, additional descriptions, photos, videos, etc. In addition, much of the information about the business recorded in Google Places can now be updated or modified by the business owner.

All of this owner content is good for users of Google Places, so long as the owner is still around to care. When a company goes out of business or moves, the Google Places listing is often left intact - providing a local listing for a company that is no longer in existence. This can be frustrating to users of Google Places when the service identifies a business, such as a local restaurant, that is actually closed.

Google has recently announced changes to the way the user-generated content (also known as "crowdsourced" data) is treated in response to this issue. Now, anyone who is signed into a Google Account can go into Google Places and update the Google Places listing for any business. If the listing is claimed, the owner will receive an e-mail about the change, but the change may go live first. It is up to the business owner to correct the change if it is made in error. Note that this change affects only the organic content for your listing. Any paid advertising on Google will only use the information you provide.

Nevertheless, this can cause problems for business owners when the listing is changed for deceptive reasons. Imagine a business marking their competitors' stores as "closed permanently" in the Google database. Image if the closed business was your business. In a recent post, Chris Silver Smith illustrated the problems with this when he and some friends marked Google Headquarters as closed - just to prove a point about the problems with this policy.

How to Defend Against Malicious Changes to Your Google Places Account

There are several things you should do to minimize the impact of this change:

  1. Make sure the contact e-mail for your Google Places Listing is up to date
  2. Check periodically for e-mails from googleplaces-noreply@google.com (including checking your Spam folder) for notices from Google about third party changes.
  3. If your mail client supports it, set up a "rule" to flag these messages as a high priority for faster response.
  4. Add that e-mail address to your spam filter's "whitelist" to help ensure you see the message when it arrives.
  5. Periodically perform a manual localized search (that is, search for [your company] in [your town], [your state]) and review the information that comes up. Login to your Google Places accounts and review the data that way as well.

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