I was recently contacted by Fotolia Stock Imagery website about trying out their images for free. So far I’ve downloaded one image and the quality is really impressive. Their collection is also very diverse and doesn’t rehash all of the cliche images we’ve all seen. Their rates also seem reasonable. Looks like you can also add your own images and sell them.
Do you have a small business that you’re trying to get the word out about? A larger company and trying to attract more customers? Claiming your ‘free business listing‘ within Google Maps / Google Places is a great way to get the ball rolling! It’s also great SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value, items worth noting are marked green in this post.
You’ll need a GMail account in order to do this, but don’t worry, this is free too! Nothing better than free marketing for your business or company! Once you have a GMail account, log into the Google Places Center and begin by entering your phone number to see if your business has already been listed (See image 1 in slideshow @ bottom of this post).
A. If the business does not exist:
This leads to a page that will require the following input fields be filled out or edited:
Category (great SEO opportunity for better defining the type of business)
Google Notes: ‘Categories are ways to classify your business that help Google show your business for the right searches. The Google Places will suggest categories that match what you type, but feel free to create your own if you don’t see a category that fits your business. Make sure that the categories you choose are accurate and describe your business well. It’s ok if they’re specific; Google’s search algorithm makes sure that users looking for a general business type, like ‘book stores,’ will see businesses in more specific categories too.‘
Optional fields are:
Website(great SEO opportunity for adding a link to your business’s website)
Google Notes: ‘list your authoritative business website as your homepage, since Google uses information from your homepage to help improve search results. The URL you provide can be a maximum of 255 characters.‘
Description(great SEO opportunity to add a nice, attractive description for bringing prospective clients to your business)
Google Notes: ‘Tell users what makes your business special.‘
Service Areas & Location Settings:
No, all customers come to the business location.
Yes, this business serves customers at their locations
Checkbox for not showing business address on Google Maps
Either Distance from business or ZIP/City name can be chosen for areas served. (Choosing either one updates map with a coverage area outline. See example image.)
(great SEO opportunity to funnel in local people to your business)
Hours of operations (with option of not displaying operating hours)
Payment Options (16 different options)
(great SEO opportunity to visually appeal to end-users when they initially see your business listing within Google Maps – Separates the business from others also placed on Map – See ex. image for Pizza Hut – Logo suggested at the minimum)
Google Notes: ‘Using Picassa or similar image hosting service is recommended‘ – This would also facilitate an easy central updating point if all images were referenced/pulled from a URL rather than an uploaded file.
Videos (Need to have been uploaded to YouTube first)
(great SEO opportunity if videos are informative – Customer reviews might be good to show here)
Ex. Parking available, Brands carried, etc.
SEO opportunity to list out specific targeted services of your business – See example image)
Google Notes: ‘Create custom attributes that allow you to include additional information that you’d like customers to know. For example, you can list what brands you carry, or if your business has parking.‘
B. If the business does exist: (Verification either via a postcard or phone at end of editing process)
Same process as above, but with an added ‘verification‘ step. Expect either an email or phone call (your choice) from Google to verify the business listing. If you are not the person at the listed address or phone number, call or notify somebody that is to give them advance notice.
If a business is verified by the business owner, a ‘Owner-verfied listing‘ link appears in listing.
Listings usually appear after 12 hours.
Google adds these items automatically(if available):
Listings display across various platforms / devices
Desktop (Google Earth), Web Browsers, iPhone & iPad (Google Maps, Google Local, One Box), Smartphones (Mobile Maps, Google Directories), Voice/Mobile Devices (Goog-411, Directory Assistance, Google SMS).
Ability to also fix an incorrect marker location on Google Maps is also given when editing.
If there are multiple offices at the business location with different phone numbers, you can add more if needed, but one will remain as the ‘main phone’.
With a Google Places account comes a ‘Dashboard‘ to track impressions coming from either a ‘Google’ or ‘OneBox’ Search. ‘Actions’ (when ‘users showed interest in your business listing‘) are also displayed along with ‘Top search queries’. Plus ‘Where driving direction requests come from’ info is given. ‘Offers’ such as coupons or specials can also be added to appear alongside you listing in Google Maps. Paid ‘Google Tags’ can also be managed from this Dashboard.
Here are some images to better illustrate this valuable process for marketing your business:
The DexKnows.com site recently posted a new page I helped develop.
It contains all of the current Widgets, Gadgets, Text Links, Banner Ads as well as ‘What & Where’ Search boxes. It’s known as the Free Tools page and is available anywhere on the Dex site if you head to the bottom of the page and click on the link, ‘Free Tools’ in the footer. This is right in between the ‘Direct Marketing’ & ‘View Phone Books’ links.
These are nifty little free tools that one can use to search the Dexknows site.
If you only want a text link, this is also available. Banner Ads as well.
The Gadgets and Widgets include an iGoogle Gadget for your iGoogle Home page. There’s a Google Desktop Gadgetwhich you’ll have to download the Google Desktop application first, but the link for that downloaded is provided. Then there’s a Yahoo! Widget that also requires an external application to run, but once again the link is conveniently provided. There’s even a Apple / Mac Dashboard Widget, which I’m quite fond of being a Mac user.
The next feature is a Widgetbox Widget and I’ll embed it below to show you how easy it is to obtain. Go ahead and try typing something into the ‘What’ & ‘Where’ boxes and hitting enter or the ‘Find’ button above and see how the widgets work and function.
I personally like the cohesive design on all of these. Some sites have multiple platform widgets and gadgets, but haven’t kept the design the same across the board. Maybe because there were multiple people working on the different platforms? Perhaps. Not the case here though. I saw the design & development from end to finish and the result is there for you to see.
Can’t wait for our next versions of these to come out! In the meantime, enjoy!
Our studio enjoys working for local Colorado people and businesses, but also provide services world-wide. We not only supply Web Design, but also Development, SEO and Widget services plus so much more. Check us out today!