Tips for creating a free business listing in Google Places: Adding useful descriptions and relevant categories

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | 2:02 PM


(Cross-posted from LatLong)

With this blog post, we’re concluding our three part series about the Google Places quality guidelines. Today, we’ll discuss how to choose the best fitting categories for your business listing as well as how to provide a useful description. In case you missed the first two blog posts, you can find here the first post about business titles and here the second part about business types.


Adding useful descriptions

As a business owner, we encourage you to add a specific description of your business in the “description” field. This gives potential clients more information to understand what your business is about and see if your business matches what they are seeking. You can also use this field to provide further guidance about the location of your business which might be useful in some cases where it is hard to find, e.g. if the entrance of your business is only accessible via the rear.

Keep the description clean and concise, so it is helpful to users and catches their attention. A series of repeated keywords or categories may turn off potential customers, but a crisp and catchy summary of the services you offer help users determine if your business is right for them.


Choosing relevant categories

If you provide appropriate and accurate categories, we can better match your business listing to relevant user searches. We recommend choosing specific categories that describe the core of your business well instead of broad ones. A good way to find representative categories for your business is asking yourself the question “What is my business?” Be sure to capture what your business is as opposed to what it offers or sells - in that sense, “bakery” would be a good category as opposed to “cakes” or “bread”.

Also, do not include location information in the categories field. If you would like to provide such additional information about your business, you can use the description field and, if appropriate, the service areas feature.


You will be asked to choose at least one category from our standard list - just start typing in the categories field to see what is available via the auto-suggestions.



We recommend always choosing the best matching and most specific category for your business - for any specific category, Google will be able to automatically determine the more generic category as well. That means, if you are a Mexican restaurant, you should go for ‘Mexican Restaurant’ and not ‘Restaurant’ - Google then automatically knows that if you are a Mexican restaurant, you are also a restaurant.

You can provide up to five categories for your business listing. After picking a standard category, you can add up to four customized categories. To add another category, just click on ‘Add another category’ and an additional field will be triggered. Put only one category per entry field. Entering more than one category into a category field is not compliant with our quality guidelines and could result in your listing being suspended and not appearing in Google Places. In case you find it difficult to find an appropriate standard category to start with, just pick a category that fits best and add more specific custom categories. If you are uncertain about categorizing your business, you can also ask for advice in the Google Places help forum and discuss with other business owners.


We hope that this information helps you add a concise description and accurate categories to your business listing in Google Places. This gives potential clients more information to determine if your business matches what they are seeking. For further questions you can visit our Google Places help forum.

Posted by Sabine Borsay, Consumer Operations

Google Boost: Now Appearing On Mobile Phones

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | 12:14 PM


(Cross-posted from LatLong)

Back in October we announced Google Boost, a new advertising solution to help local businesses connect with potential customers in their area. Today we are excited to announce that Boost ads can appear on Google Search results pages on Android and iPhone devices.



Consumers increasingly use mobile devices to search for products and services, and Boost will give advertisers the opportunity to reach these customers exactly when they are looking for local businesses on their phones. This feature will automatically take effect for current and future Boost advertisers.

In case you aren’t familiar with Boost, it’s Google's new advertising product that helps business owners quickly create an online advertising campaign that targets local customers. Using information from the business’s free Google Places listing, Boost automatically suggests and creates text ads that appear on Google Search and Google Maps results pages.

Google Boost is now available in all U.S. cities to select business types. To find out if your business is eligible, sign in to your Places account (or create a free one if you haven’t yet) and visit the Dashboard. If Boost is not currently available to your business, fill out this short form and we’ll notify you when it is.

Posted by Kiley McEvoy, Product Manager

Google Apps for Business now available for Verizon customers

Monday, January 24, 2011 | 4:00 PM

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor's Note: We're excited that beginning today Google Apps for Business is available through Verizon. We've asked Monte Beck, Vice President of Small Business Marketing for Verizon to share more details.

At Verizon we make it easy for companies to get online and be productive in the office or while on the move. We do this by offering business owners a bundled solution of essential services to fit their particular needs.

Beginning today, our small- and medium-sized business customers will also be able to access the same applications that come with Google Apps for Business: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Video, and more.

Most of Verizon’s service offerings are in the cloud and delivered to any business connected to the Internet with a click of the mouse. So it makes sense for us to offer Google Apps for Verizon to allow businesses to communicate and collaborate in the office or on the go.

Google Apps for Verizon – with three free user accounts – is available to business customers that subscribe to a bundle consisting of Verizon Internet service and either Verizon voice or TV service or both. Customers have the option to buy additional accounts. Also included is a domain name free for one year (i.e. yourbusiness.com).

Other small business essentials provided in Verizon’s bundled solutions include an easy do-it-yourself “kit” to develop your business’ professional website, Internet security, online backup, and more. Most importantly, we offer WiFi access – a necessity today to quickly respond to customers and access programs and files while out of the office.

Verizon’s business bundled solutions are available in parts of 12 states (CA, CT, DE, FL, MD, MA, NJ, NY, PA, RI, TX, and VA) and Washington, D.C. Those who just need Apps can subscribe to Google Apps for Verizon for $3.99/user/month.

To better help and inform small businesses, my team also developed the Verizon Small Business Center, a one-stop online portal with free resources, industry news, expert advice delivered through free webinars, networking opportunities, discounts, and much more. In combining these free resources with cloud products and services, we’re helping small businesses gain a competitive edge. Even the smallest companies now have access to technology that’s being used by larger businesses at minimal cost.

Google Apps for Verizon helps Verizon’s business customers harness the power of the web in new and exciting ways.

Our big gift for small businesses

Friday, January 21, 2011 | 9:26 AM

To kick off 2011, we wanted to thank a few small businesses for taking the first step toward enhancing their online presence—and to provide additional resources for achieving this goal. So over the holiday season, we paid a surprise visit to five small businesses who recently started advertising their businesses online: Create A Cook and Twinkle Star in Massachusetts, Ramy’s Garage and Atlas Flooring in Texas, and Cloud 9 Frozen Yogurt in Georgia. These small businesses span several industries, but their founders share one common goal: to expand beyond their brick-and-mortar storefronts and into the world of e-commerce.


To help, we gave them each of them $100,000 in AdWords spend for 2011 as well as free consultations with AdWords representatives. Because we know online presence means more than just AdWords, we’ll also be providing them with web consultations, wireless service for the year as well as a few other little surprises. See footage from our surprise visit below:





We’re looking forward to making big investments in small businesses far beyond these lucky five. Small businesses have long benefited from Google products and services; now our hope is that all small business owners can have greater access to the tools and training they need to develop a cohesive strategy for doing more business online. We started last year by creating the Google Small Business Center and asking small business owners about their biggest wishes for 2011. We received an overwhelming response from business owners who, like the owners of these shops, want to do more business online in 2011.


The Google Small Business Team surprises Atlas Flooring in Texas.


We’re thrilled to help these five small business owners find online success in 2011 and we think we have a lot to learn from their experiences. We’ll check in on them from time to time and report on their successes as well as their growing pains.


In the meantime, check the Google Small Business Blog for updates, and if you’re a business owner, visit the Google Small Business Center for information on how you can bring your business online in 2011.


Posted by James Croom, Product Marketing Manager, Google Small Business Team

Now available: Google Places with Hotpot for iPhone

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | 9:35 AM

[Cross-posted from the Hotpot Community blog]


We recently released Google Places with Hotpot in Google Maps for Android, and starting now, you can have that same great experience as an iPhone app. We realize the importance of finding places you’ll love while you’re out and about, no matter what mobile device you use. And Places with Hotpot not only helps you find places near where you are, it gives you the best places to go for you by personalizing your search results.

In case you aren’t familiar with Google Places, it lets you quickly search for places nearby and personalizes the results based on places you’ve rated. We get you started with a few popular search categories, but you can also tailor the list by adding your own favorite searches. This makes it fast and easy to find the best places for you with little fuss.


Use a default search category, save your own, or rate the nearest place quickly.

It can be pretty rewarding to discover a new place you love, but we also realize that there are some experiences you just can’t wait to share. So Places makes it super simple to rate a place with your iPhone while you’re there. Just fire up the app and hit “Rate now.” It will use your location to guess your current place and let you post a Hotpot review right from your phone. But it’s not just about getting to say what you think—the more you rate places, the more you’re sharing about your tastes and the more we can give you personally tailored recommendations.


Give your star rating and add optional details or a review so Hotpot knows your taste.

If you want to make things even tastier, just visit google.com/hotpot from your desktop computer. Here you can add friends to the mix and quickly rate all the places you already know. Once you’ve added friends, you’ll find your results seasoned not just with reviews from around the web and recommendations based on your own personal taste, but also with your friends’ opinions too.


Once you start rating and add friends, Places can give you personalized recommendations.

Get the Places app on your iPhone now by searching for Google Places in the App Store or going here.

This first version of Places is available for all iOS devices in English only. However, expect more features and improvements to roll out soon, including localization in many new languages. We’re hard at work to make Places with Hotpot more and more delicious.

Introducing Google Engage for Agencies in US and UK

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | 2:30 PM

[Cross-posted from the Agency Ad Solutions Blog]

Are you a US or UK based Webmaster? WebDesigner? SEO? Marketing Consultant? Freelancer? or offering web related services to Small Medium Businesses? then keep on reading...

At Google, we’re committed to the success of the digital economy and we believe that helping small business get online and thrive is fundamental to that success.

We recognize that many SMBs rely on freelancers and small agencies to create and manage their online presence as well as help them with their online marketing. To make the jobs of these agencies easier, we’ve launched a new training and incentives program called Google Engage for Agencies.



Google Engage participants will receive free access to educational resources dedicated for them and more incentives to grow their own and their clients’ businesses.

We hope Engage will help businesses that offer web services in attracting new clients and in adding value to existing clients. Check out Google Engage today and learn about the benefits the program can offer your business and the SMBs you support.

If you’re a webmaster, web-designer, digital agency, freelancer, SEO, IT consultant, or provide any other web services to US or UK based small businesses, you can apply to join the program starting today.

Please see links below for information on participation for US and UK-based agencies:
Google Engage for US Businesses
Google Engage for UK Businesses

Posted by: Alon Chen & Esra Guler, Product Marketing

Hotpot Goes Barhopping

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 | 4:03 PM

[Cross-posted from the Google Places Community Blog.]

Editor’s Note: While we’re in Portland over the next few weeks, we wanted to bring some local flavor to the blog by asking writers who live in the area to contribute Hotpot-style city guides: recommendations on where to eat, where to shop, where to hang. Below, locally based writer Geoff Kleinman shares how Hotpot recommendations guided him through a night of Portland barhopping. Be sure to join the conversation in the comments below.

One of the things I love about
Hotpot is the way it uses my ratings and my friends' ratings to point me toward places that are the best match for me and my tastes. While I've discovered some great businesses in my Google searches using Hotpot from the comfort of my home’s desktop computer, I thought it would be fun to take Hotpot on the road using my Android phone, acting as my “person in the know” on a recent Portland barhop.

First stop: Irving Street Kitchen.

For the first stop, I wanted to find a place that was known both for its good food and good drinks.
Irving St. Kitchen was recommended to me on Hotpot because I had rated Beaker & Flask 5 stars and my Hotpot friends had rated Irving St. Kitchen highly.

The
Place page for Irving St. Kitchen had several Best Ever awards and most of them talked about the amazing drinks and bartenders such as Brandon Wise and Allison Webber. It seemed a perfect place to start our hop.

Allison Webber whips up something tasty.

When we arrived at Irving St. Kitchen and took a seat at the bar, Allison made us a few great classic cocktails. My favorite was a variation of the Negroni — a White Negroni that was flavorful, balanced and a perfect before-dinner drink.

White Negroni at Irving Street Kitchen.

Allison made some food recommendations including a beet salad with truffles, fresh salmon over lentils, and our favorite dish of the evening, a shrimp and crab fusion dish served over a savory bread pudding.

Shrimp, crab and bread pudding - True Fusion at Irving Street Kitchen.

We probably could have spent the entire evening sitting at Irving Street’s bar, but we were on a mission to hop with Hotpot. Using the
Rate Places widget for Android, we gave Irving St. Kitchen a glowing rating, then used the Android Places app to look for other bars nearby that friends had recommended. Clyde Common came right up. It was just down the street and recommended by our friend Jennifer Heigl on Hotpot.

Second stop: Clyde Common.

Checking out Clyde’s Place page, we read that the restaurant is the home bar for noted bartender and blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Several of the reviews referred to the barrel-aged cocktails, so when we sat at the bar we immediately ordered one.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler's famous barrel-aged cocktails.

Jeffrey wasn't behind the bar that night, but Andrew Volk was, and in addition to mixing up a few barrel-aged drinks for us, he also made an original Islay scotch cocktail that simply blew us away.

Andrew Volk works the Clyde Common bar.

Clyde Common is a little bit of a way station bar, and we found that our group grew a bit as we headed along to our next stop. This time around, instead of looking for a nearby bar, we wanted to see what would happen if we just asked the Places app to
search for the "best cocktails."

Third and final stop: Teardrop Lounge.

So far Google Places with Hotpot hadn't steered us wrong, and it was doing a great job of being the “person in the know.”
Teardrop Lounge came up on the list and it was just around the corner, so we made our way over. Many of the reviews on Teardrop’s Place page talked about its classic cocktails, so we sat at the bar and checked out the massive cocktail menu, which has close to 30 different drinks listed. A little daunted with the menu, we got help from bartender Brian Gilbert, who spent a lot of time with our group getting to know what kinds of things we drink.

Brian Gilbert helps us decide what drinks to order at Teardrop.

I ended up with a drink called “Unfinished Business,” which was served in a very cool antique glass with a huge block of ice.

One of Teardrop's many cocktail options, "Unfinished Business."

Having Hotpot recommendations as our guide for the evening took a lot of the guess work out of figuring out what to do and where to go. Even more helpful were the reviews and tips left by my Hotpot friends, so I knew exactly what to order.

Using Hotpot on your hops and crawls? Share your stories in the comments below.

Posted by
Geoff Kleinman. Geoff is the editor of DrinkSpirits.com, a national blog helping people figure out what to drink, and OnPDX.com, helping people figure out what to do in Portland.