Adding In-Depth Information to Your Listing
After you submit the initial screen of information about your business, as described in the previous steps, Google creates your listing. Google then offers you another screen in which you can add more information. If you are continuing with editing an existing entry, these fields simply continue on from the ones described in the previous section.
The fields you can enter include the following:
- Service Areas and Location Settings
- Open Hours (Hours of Operation)
- Payment Options
- Additional Details
Service areas are of particular interest. For most locally based businesses, such as a grocery store, you list an address and people come to you. However, if you deliver, you'll want to show your delivery area. If you don't have a storefront—for instance, if you have a home-based advice, coaching, or consultancy business—you cannot list your business address, but you can still list the area you serve.
Service areas take two forms. One is a circular area around your business address, as shown in Figure 5.4. This is great for businesses such as pizza delivery that have an explicit or implicit time commitment. Or, you might want to drive only 40 miles, say, to reach a client. Circular service areas are a bit tough on customers, though, because they think of themselves as living in specific towns and cities, not within circles drawn around your business.
Figure 5.4 A circular service area might be more convenient for you than your customers.
The other, more interesting kind of service area is a kind of blob made up of specific cities, towns, and ZIP codes near you. This is shown in Figure 5.5. Google Places fills in the areas in-between to form an odd kind of shape.
Figure 5.5 Enter a circular or irregular service area.
For example, for my consulting work, my service area is parts of the San Francisco Bay Area served by BART and CalTrain, and within about an hour and a half of me. I was able to specify this by naming just three points—San Jose, San Francisco, and Richmond—in the northern part of the East Bay.
If I meet potentially high-value new clients who live outside those areas, I still do business with them, but only if the rewards seem worth the hassle. For people who find me on Google Places, I find that people outside the service area still call me—but I have the option of turning them down if the business isn't worth the trouble.
However, whether this is a new listing or an existing one, you will not have verified the listing yet. I recommend that you enter in only the first three types of information, which are somewhat basic: service area and location, open hours, and payment options. I recommend you then verify your listing, as described in the last section in this chapter, "Verifying Your Listing." When that's done, you can spend more time on the additional fields, some of which can require a fair amount of time and effort.
Follow these steps to add more in-depth information to your listing:
Specify whether customers come to your business location or the business serves customers at their locations.
This is a tricky one. Only a minority of businesses, such as many pizza parlors, routinely offer delivery service for the general public. However, many businesses will do deliveries for big customers, shut-ins, and so on—perhaps for an extra fee, and perhaps only after regular business hours.
I recommend that you consider describing your business as serving customers at their location, even if you only do it in restricted circumstances. When customers ask you about it, you can explain the circumstances to them.
If you enter Yes to service areas and location settings, Google will bring up a dialog and a map to enable you to enter your service area, as shown in Figure 5.5.
If you answered No to service areas and location settings, go to the next step. If you entered Yes, enter the details, including whether to show your business address on your Maps listing and the areas served. Click the Distance from One Location radio button to create a circular area based on a ZIP code, plus a radius around it. (Click the Update Preview button to see the area depicted on a map.) Click the other radio button, List of Areas Served, to enter a list of areas served; for each area, enter the name, and then click Add. Repeat until you've entered all areas. See the beginning of this section for more on service areas.
For the option of entering areas served, Google warns you that areas entered are approximate. Google includes points between the areas you specify, forming a contiguous, albeit irregular, blob, as shown in Figure 5.6.
Figure 5.6 You can easily specify a lunch break and special weekend hours.
For hours of operation, choose the radio button for not specifying your hours of operation or the button for listing them. If you choose the latter, use the pull-downs to specify your hours, as shown in Figure 5.6. You can enter Monday hours—click the Apply to All link to apply them throughout the week—then customize any days that are different. To enter split shifts—for instance, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but closed for lunch from 12 noon to 1 p.m.—click the I'd Like to Enter Two Sets of Hours for a Single Day check box to set it. Then enter the second set of hours for the days that have them.
Open hours are really, really important to many customers. Part of your value add as a local business is convenience, and publicizing your open hours are a big part of this. Remember that, in many cases, you're competing with other local businesses that might be open more hours, and possibly also with online shopping options that are open all the time. So, carefully specify the broadest opening hours that you can responsibly commit to, and then stick to them.
Click the check boxes for all the payment options you accept: cash, check, traveler's check, invoice, American Express, Diner's Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa, Financing, Google Checkout, and PayPal.
As with delivery, there's a potential problem here: You might want to offer some customers more payment options than others. For payment, I recommend that you list only the payment options that you're comfortable offering to everyone, and then negotiate if asked for additional options.
If you choose, use the Additional Details area (see Lesson 6), the Photos area (see Lesson 7), and the Videos area (see Lesson 8) to add more content to your Google Places page.
You can add this kind of content now, but I recommend that you wait to see what Google finds for you after you've had your listing up for a little bit first. Also, using these areas properly might require a bit of education and thought, so consider delaying these additions for now and adding them after reviewing the relevant lessons later in this book.
Check all the choices you've entered, and then click Submit.
Google will add the information to your listing, and then request that you verify the listing, as described in the next section.