We covered the importance of localised search as far back as 2013, fast forward to 2015 and it is quite clear that local search is a leading source of business to most companies. The drastic rise in mobile use has also helped promote localised search with the major search engines tailoring search results directly based on your location.
Google, with their ever increasing number of products, have updated what were previously “Google Places” to “Google Business Listings”. These pages are now integrated with your Google Business account and your Google+ page as well as additional services such as Google Maps. By combining all of this information Google has a much better understanding of what you do, but more importantly where you can be found.
Where to Start?
As with all Google Services, you must have an active Google account. While you can use an existing Google account it is advisable to create a single business account where you can share and better organise your business locations. These Google Business accounts should, ideally, be setup using an email account that’s associated with your domain (eg. firstname.lastname@example.org).
To create Google Business account simply sign up at http://www.google.com/business/ if you already have a Google account this can be upgraded to a Business account.
Try to fill in as much information as possible, with the following points being required:
Store Code: These can be in any format that you wish, I generally use simple codes 001, 002 and so on. Head office should be your first entry.
Name: This would be your Real Estate Office’s name, eg. “Acme Realtors Head Office”
Address: Note this has to be your offices physical location as Google will be mailing a verification code through to you. This will also help you map your business on Google Maps, should Google not recognise your address you’ll still have the option to manually pin it on the map.
Categories: This is where you’d be able to categorise your real estate company.
Description: Give a brief description of what you do.
Home Page: This would link back to your website, however if you’re creating multiple places, link to the most relevant page within the website as a whole, one that highlights your real estate office.
Contact Details: Try to include as much contact information as possible. These can offer online users a direct method of contact before they’ve even reached your website.
Other information will simply offer visitors more insight as to what your real estate business offers, hours of operation and so on. Generally the more information the better as this helps to not only offer visitors to your business listing as much information about your business but also helps give your listing more validity from Google when returning business listings in a particular area. Listings that appear to be most complete are generally favoured.
Continue with the “verify later” option. Here in South Africa we’re only able to verify these accounts by receiving our verification codes through the postal system in the mail. Google insist on sending this verification to your physical address so as to avoid other online users from fraudulently verifying your business listing. While anyone can create a Google Business Location, once it has been verified only those with access to your business account can edit your details ensuring they remain accurate.
Your verification code is only valid for 30 days after which it will expire. Fortunately you can always request another verification code should you require it.
Once you’ve managed to verify your real estate office, you’ll stand a good chance in being returned for related searches, related map searches and for business related queries through Google’s various services.
Google’s business directory, possibly the largest of its kind in the world, is the most frequently used form of search used in South Africa today even if searchers don’t realise it. Subsequently Google through its various services remains the largest source of lead generation for business country wide. Can you afford to not be found?