Today more than half of Americans already have a smart phone in their pocket. They increasingly use this smart phone for things that they used to do on their computer. Some specific things they've always done on their phone, which is texting, is actually getting more and more popular. All the social media, for the majority, is done from a phone. What the phone is used for also is for search. You are somewhere, you want to search something and basically get results of everything that's around you. That is what has been changing the whole landscape. Email, even though we do it on our smart phone, is actually getting less and less popular. A lot of people don't even want to use it anymore. They have other ways of communicating with each other now.
The fact is that people are spending more and more time on their phone each day. That is what prompted Google to do something drastic. What Google did is provide each business with a home page. They call this a "Places" page. This Places page is your home page on Google. Google gave out about fifty million of these. They used the data from business registers; so all businesses are listed with their address, their official name, and their phone number. What business owners need to do is claim their page with their Google+ account. If they claim their page, they can modify their page and optimize it so that it will rise up in the search engines. This is actually what Google intended, so Google can provide better local searches. There's a strict verification process, because Google doesn't want your competitor to take a hold of your page, because that would be pretty devastating.
This is what a page in Google would look when you search for 'Bars in Coconut Grove'. The interesting part is that there is a bar on the top with the bars! Also there is a map here and the business is listed on the map with a little teardrop. When you click on a bar, you see the hours of business, how to get there, what kind of categories the business falls into, the name and address, a website, and some description as well. Most importantly, you see reviews. Reviews are what Google really thinks are important, because if people talk about you in a good way, then you are relevant. All this information Google gets from your Places page!
To get to the top in Google, what you have to do is optimize your Places page. What that means is that you have to make sure that on your page you have pictures, videos, all the information correctly filled out, check all the descriptions for the key words you want to be found for. The next thing that Google finds important is what they call 'citations.' Those are mentions of your business - NAP they call it, Name, Address, Phone number - in other places. There are lots of other places where you can drop your name, address, and phone number. There's business listings and Yellow Pages and Super Pages, and your own website of course, but you have to make sure that you find as many places on the web where you can drop your name, address, and phone number, and make sure that they identical to what you have listed in Google. That basically provides a link. Google sees that as a link, and if you have a link, you must be important. You rise up in the search engines when you have many citations. What is a very important citation is your website registration itself. The name of your business and the name of your website should really be linked to the name of your business as it is listed in Google Places.
But the most important thing about Google Places is reviews. Reviews, reviews, reviews! Your business is important when people talk about it. You have to make sure that you actually help this process. You have to teach your staff to ask your customers for a review, a testimonial about your business. If your customer said that the service was excellent, then please ask him to put that down in writing so that you can use this as a review on Google. There are many places where you can leave these reviews or testimonials. There are special sites like Yelp and Citysearch, and many others, where a business can be basically critiqued, but the more good reviews you have, the higher you will rank in Google. What is also a very important way to get up in the search engines is that when you have a review - and by the way, the review can be on the Google page itself as well - respond to that review. That shows that you care, that you read the reviews, that you listen to your customers. That basically is what it is all about. Companies need to listen to what is said about their brand and react. That is what companies need to do if they want to get high up in the search engines, be found, do business, have happy customers, and basically increase their revenue.
It all sounds somewhat overwhelming, so here is a tip for you. Go to the site http://ClaimMyPage.com. All you have to do is pay a small fee and enter your information and they claim your page for you. They do all the work, including all the optimizing that is necessary. After you have claimed your page, you will see that already you have risen up tremendously in the Pages places listings on the map.