For those of you not currently using Google Places, we wanted to give you one more reason why you should reconsider. No, this isn’t about Hotpot (which might gain more friggin’ adoption if they would let it work on mobile phones besides Droid), Tags, the new floating map configuration, or Boost. It’s something you can’t get anywhere else with any reliability: analytics for how people interact with the Web when not on your site even if they’ve never visited it.
Take a look at the screenshot below to your right; you can click to enlarge it. It’s an actual screenshot from a client’s Google Places page account with just the top search queries rubbed out so they can keep their anonymity.
Best Data that Google Places Provides
There’s a number of features that you get when you have a Google Places account that you don’t get anywhere else. These include:
- Search Queries for when Your Listing APPEARED. Search query – i.e. keyword – data isavailable in whatever analytics software you have, suris available’s just for people that actually visit your site. And yes, you could argue that you can get keyword data for impressions through Google Webmaster Tools, but you’d get verbally beat down as the data is laughably inaccurate. If the numbers shown in the analytics for Google Places aren’t accurate they’re danged close. While we’d like to see data for more than just the top 10 keyword phrases, I’m guessing those aren’t too far down in the pike, although maybe that’s something they save for paying customers using Tags or some such related product.
- Driving Direction Requests. What could be better for a local retailer than knowing where the people who plan on buying from you are coming from? One Los Angeles realtor quasi-griped about wanting to know data beyond the zip code level. I don’t see Google giving that up, unfortunately as it would be a serious breach of privacy. Besides, zip codes are the same level of data collected manually at the point of purchase by many retailers.
- Other Actions Taken. In addition to driving direction requests, the analytics will also tell you how often people who saw your listing on the map took other actions, such as clicking for more info (i.e. viewing your actual listing page – not just the excerpt they get in the search results) and clicks through to your Web site.
If Your Business is Already Listed in Google Places…
For those businesses who already have information listed for them in Google Places without having claimed and verified their Page, two major reasons exist for claiming them today:
- Correcting Inaccurate Information. This is #1 by far still. The information Google scrapes for the listing is never complete and usually has major inaccuracies in it.
- Analytics. What the rest of this post went over.
There are some other nice add-ons now that you may wish to play with, such as the QR codes they provide. While we’d recommend that if you use QR codes, you send the traffic to your own site, they’ve made it easy for you so that you don’t need to put in the leg work yourself. I would also guess there will be some more significant advantages in the future, such as being able to make “official” replies to customer reviews given their hotpot push, but that’s just speculation on my part at this point and don’t know that it will be tied into the Places interface.
Regardless of the extra reasons, #s 1 and 2 above should be more than enough impetus to get you to claim your listing today. So get crackin’!