Google Places is Google’s answer to a virtual business directory for almost every brick-and-mortar business in the USA. If you have ever used Google Maps to find a restaurant, movie theater, golf course or store – then you have already used Google Places. Your golf course is probably already indexed within the Google Places directory – whether you set this up or not. We encourage all of our clients to claim their business listing if they haven’t already. This is a free service that lets customers find, share, rate, and recommend your business. As we talked about in our article in PGA Magazine, Google Places is transitioning to Google+ Local, which we will discuss later in this article.
The Importance of Google+ Local (Google Places)
As a golf course owner, operator, marketer or golf professional at a golf course, you should be very concerned with how your business is listed with Google. There are millions of people using Google everyday to search for local business and find more information about them. If your business listing contains inaccurate information, poor reviews, or broken links, then you are simply losing business. This is why having an updated listing is crucial in our online world.
Another vital part of your listing is the address of your facility. Sometimes, inaccurate addresses are found on Google by businesses that have not claimed their listing. With the enormous popularity of Google Maps, an incorrect address could mean that customers won’t be able to find good directions to your course. This will leave new customers frustrated before they even get to your course. If you are in a destination area or resort town, the importance of having a correct address is double.
How to Claim (or Set Up) Your Google Places Listing
You can start your journey at: google.com/placesforbusiness. From there, you will be able to claim your listing or create a new one. Google will ask you to verify your phone number and address. This keeps fictitious businesses from creating profiles. As you go through the step by step process, make sure to fill out all the information that you can – business hours, what types of credit card you take, parking information, phone numbers, description, and especially categories that your business falls under. The categories that you list will help Google to show your business when someone types in that category name. When someone types in “Golf Course in Daytona, Fl” Google will list all the businesses listed as golf courses within the Daytona, FL geographic region. So make sure to put accurate categories about your business. Also, don’t forget to upload pictures and videos of your facility. Google rewards businesses that have more information in their listing – plus users love to see pictures and watch videos. This creates a more interesting profile, which will attract more attention and get better listing priority.
Google+ is Google’s answer to a social network. Much like Facebook, Google+ aims to connect people through the web via messaging, photo sharing, video sharing, live chats, commenting, and much more. A Google+ account is now necessary in order to create your Google+ Local page – this means you must have a gmail account or have already created a Google account through one of Google’s other services like Picasa or Google Apps.
Once Google makes the full transition from Google Places to Google+ Local, instead of seeing a Place page, users will go to to a local Google+ page. Information you manage in Google Places for Business — like your business’s website, location, and hours — will appear on the Google+ page. If you need to revise any information, just sign in to Google Places for Business and make edits like you normally would. These changes will update the Google+ page for your business.
Google+ Local Scores, Reviews and Zagat Ratings
With the new Google+ Local – and even the current Google Places – users can leave reviews on your facility. If you have provided great service to your customers, make sure to ask them to leave a great review on your listing. This increases the credibility of your business and ranks your business higher amongst your competition. The new Google+ Local has a new feature called scores which is a simple way to leave a ranking of your facility. If your golf course has a restaurant attached to it – try to list that as a separate business. The reason for this is because restaurants can be included in Zagat ratings. Google acquired Zagat several years ago and is now incorporating their review service into local searches.
The way Google calculates scores from reviews is as follows:
Individual user ratings are based on a 0 to 3 point scale.
2 Very Good
0 Poor to Fair
We take these ratings, average them, and then multiply by ten to arrive at averaged scores.
26-30 Extraordinary to perfection
21-25 Very good to excellent
16-20 Good to very good
10-15 Fair to good
0-9 Poor to fair
Google tells us that with Google+ Local you can:
- Get place recommendations based on your circles, your past reviews, and your location
- Publish reviews and photos of your favorite places
- Read Zagat summaries of user reviews for a place
- View the local Google+ page for a business to see reviews, photos, and other useful information
- Find reviews from people you know and trust highlighted in your search results
Did We Mention that Google is Smart?
The entire concept behind Google+ and Google+ Local is the concept of truly tailored searches. Searches that are tailored for you. Google displays results based on your past experiences, your friend’s reviews, your interaction with businesses, and many other factors. Here is what Google has to say about this:
Every time you rate a place on Google, we get a better understanding of your likes and dislikes: sushi or steak; coffee or tea; a quiet room with a view, or somewhere near the pulse of city nightlife. Once we can discern your tastes, you’ll start to see recommendations in your search results of places chosen specially for you, with explanations of why you might like them. As you rate more places, you’ll see more and better recommendations anywhere you search for local results on Google — at your computer or while on the go with your phone.
So hopefully you can now see why Google+ Local is so important to your business. We encourage you to use this information to update your listing or create a new listing that you never had before. Use the listing to showcase your property and encourage your customers to leave good reviews. This helps your business to gain more customers through online discovery – and who doesn’t want more customers? The videos below offer some more information on Google Places and Google+ Local.