Adding or Editing Basic Information
What I'm calling basic information for Google Places does seem pretty basic: business name, address, phone, email address, website, description, and categories.
If you are creating a new listing, you enter this basic information in the first web page that appears. If you are editing an existing listing, this basic information appears first in a longer web page.
Follow the steps in the previous section to bring up the entry screen for basic Google Places information. Then follow these steps to enter or edit it, as shown in Figure 5.2.
Figure 5.2 Tell Google Places where your business is located.
Enter or edit the name and address of your business.
As you enter address information, the map will display a marker, and pan and zoom to show the marker's location close up.
It's quite common for address information to be incorrect for large sites, and not unheard of for smaller ones.
If the marker location is incorrect, click the Fix Incorrect Marker Location link. Follow the instructions onscreen to get the marker location right.
A dialog will appear, as shown in Figure 5.3, to enable you to move the marker location. For a large site, such as a national park, you might have to pan and zoom quite a bit to get the right location. You might also want to consult with others about the right spot to direct visitors to.
Figure 5.3 You can help get Google's maps right for your business.
Enter or edit your business phone number.
It's best if this number has the same area code and even exchange—the first three digits of a seven-digit local phone number—as other nearby businesses. This reassures customers that you're truly local.
Click the Add More Phone Numbers link if you want to list an alternative phone, mobile phone, fax number, and/or TTY/TDD for use by deaf people. Then enter the additional numbers.
It's traditional for a business to have a single, land-line number (not a mobile phone number). However, you should add additional numbers if it will help people reach you in a way that you're ready to be reached.
For instance, if you add a mobile phone number, you help people reach you off hours and send text messages to you. However, you also enable them to call you at 3 a.m. with a seemingly urgent message, delivered in another language or with a strong accent, from some distant part of the world. Be sure you're ready for this. If you give a fax number, be sure you can always have the fax machine ready, with paper and toner in it. If you're not ready for the possible hassles, it's best not to list that specific type of number.
Enter or edit your business email address.
This is a tough one; entering a personal email address looks a bit informal and unprofessional, whereas entering something official-looking, such as email@example.com, looks intimidating—and implies that the email might not get an answer anytime soon. A name such as firstname.lastname@example.org might send just the right impression. See Lesson 4 for information about how to sign up for a Google email account, which you can customize to forward mail to your usual account.
Enter or edit your company website address, if you have one and want to bring it to the attention of Google Places visitors at this time. If not, click the I Don't Have a Website check box.
It's good to have a company website, but you should send people to it only if it's good-looking, up-to-date, and accurate enough to reflect well on you.
Enter a description of your business, as shown in Figure 5.2, up to 200 characters.
This description is important marketing copy, but it should be written in plain English, simply describing your business. It should read as if it were written by an independent observer, although not a particularly critical one. The description text can also help with search engine optimization (SEO) for your business.
Enter or edit the categories in which your business belongs. To add additional categories, click the Add Another Category link.
Enter up to five categories that are appropriate for your business. You can enter category names as they occur to you; as you type, Google uses your partial entry to display suggestions in a scrolling list. You must enter at least one category that matches one of the suggestions. You can also enter custom category names, or use the list in Appendix A, "Places Categories," to use the category names suggested by Google. See Appendix A for a complete discussion.
If you are entering a new listing, you'll be finished with the first page, and have the opportunity to click the Submit button. If you are happy with the information you have added so far, click Submit. If you aren't, click the Sign Out link in the upper-right corner of your screen to terminate the process.
If you click Submit, Google creates your business listing. The next screen will enable you to add additional details. When you click Submit on that screen, the additional details are added to your listing.
If you click Sign Out, however, all your changes will be lost, including any categories you have entered.
If you are creating the listing for the first time, and want to be clever, you can open another browser window or tab and go to http://www.google.com/places. You should see a list with the business listing you just created in it. Quickly close the browser window or tab to avoid confusing Google's databases by entering similar information from two places at once.