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How to Leverage Google Places for Your CPA Firm

Google placesLast time I talked about how to use local search to get your CPA firm better prominence in search engine result pages. I want to take a deeper dive into one of the more useful local search engine optimization tactics: Google Places.

Since Google is the leader in search engine usage (66.4% market share), its best to start your local SEO and marketing tactics with Google Places. Your listing in Google Places will not only provide a quick spot for your potential clients to find you online, but will directly affect your search engine result page ranking and how your firm’s listing appears. So let’s walk through the process to setup a Google Places page for your CPA firm.

Remember in my last post we talked about consistency? It is incredibly important we continue to be consistent in Google Places, especially with the phone number, address and name of your firm.

Let’s get started! First, you will need a Google account if you don’t have one already. You may want to create a business account on Google, versus using your personal one, especially if others at your firm will be managing your Google Places account. Once you have your Google account, go to www.google.com/places/ and login. You will be at the dashboard for Google Places. Just click on “Add a business” to get started.

Google also offers you the option to upload a data file if you have more than 10 locations. You’re more than welcome to do this instead of entering them one-by-one, but I recommend entering at least one location the manual way, so you can fully understand all that is required.

Google-places-phoneChances are that Google already has information on your business and you will just need to edit it. Enter your business phone number to get started. Make sure this is the main phone line for your business and not an 800 number or the line that rings at your desk (remember: consistency). Google will search its database for your business. If Google doesn’t have a match for your number, you will need to enter the information. Here are a few additional tips for this section:

  • Do not add keywords to your firm name. This will get you banned. You should enter your firm name exactly as you want it to appear.
  • If you share a building with other businesses, be sure to use your suite or floor number. This will differentiate your business from the others at that address (only one business can occupy an address).
  • Do not use a PO Box or 800 number in your listing. Both your address and phone number assist with local SEO; using an address where you don’t physically reside or a general number will only hurt your local listing.
  • Do not use an agency or personal email address. Make sure you use an email address that is consistent with the domain of your website.
  • Do not add keywords to the categories. There are preconfigured categories that you should target; creating new categories to match keywords will result in your listing being removed. You should include the CPA and accountant categories and those that correspond with the services your firm offers. You can find categories for financial planner, tax preparer and so forth. You are limited to five categories total, however.
  • Google will automatically place a marker on the map where it thinks your address is. Make sure that is correct. If not, you can manually fix its location.
  • The next sections cover hours of operation, payment options, photos, video and additional information. You are not required to provide any of this information. However, everything you add to your listing increases its usefulness and prominence in search engine results. I advise making sure every section is filled completely.
  • The additional details section is where you can add keywords. This is best done with a heading of “Services Offered.” Then go ahead and list all your services using the corresponding keywords. If you’re a Personal Financial Specialist, you’ll probably want to use keywords such as estate planning, retirement planning and so forth. You can also use this section to add your social media accounts.

Once you have submitted your listing, you will need to verify your business exists at the phone and address you provided. You can select to have Google call you at the number in your listing, which will provide instant verification. Or you can have Google send you a postcard with the verification code. You’re listing will not be live until this verification is completed.

After verification, your Google Places listing should appear in search engine rankings. Be sure to check your listing over time though and make modifications as necessary. You’re now on your way to better local SEO.

Pro Tip: If you’re already using Google AdWords, modify your ads to include the location extension. There is no additional cost and can result in your firm location on the map in local search results and your Google Places information. According to Google, ads with the location extension enabled experience a 23% increase in clickthroughs.

Next time we’ll take about how to utilize foursquare for your CPA firm.

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