Google Adds Mobile Place Pages: Why you should care

Last week Google announced that its Local Business Center pages would be called Place Pages, and that they had added several new features to them. Now they have followed that up with an announcement that Place Pages now have a mobile version, at least on Android phones (such as the Google G1, Motorola Droid, and several others) and iPhones.

Before this announcement, smartphones with good web browsing abilities could see much of the standard Place Pages, so in that sense this isn’t an earth-shaking announcement. However, now the Place Pages are optimized for mobile, so you see larger text, with links to the different sections of information. These include location, map, business info, hours of operation, and most importantly, reviews.

Why this matters

The importance of mobile Place Pages appears when you combine the back-to-back announcements from Google about its Place Pages with the ease of guests posting or reading reviews – even while still at the location they are reviewing – and presto! Instantly available reviews and information by and for guests. As we mentioned in our presentation on Reputation Management, if anyone has ever used a mobile device at your property, or if you think they ever may do so, you need to be aware of the consequences and take steps to be ready for it!

What you should be doing about it

Some would see the ease of posting and finding reviews, as well as other information about your property, as a threat. We don’t. We see it as an opportunity to tell people how wonderful your property is.

There are a number of simple things you can do to both guard against the inherent risks, and to proactively use Place Pages to benefit your property.

  1. We’ve said it before, and can not emphasize it enough – if you have not already done so, claim your Place Page.  Go to maps.google.com and search your property type, your location (such as “bed and breakfast freeport maine” – without the quotes), click on the name of your property so the “bubble” pops up, click on “more info”. In the blue bar just above and to the left of the map, if the words “Business owner?” appear, your listing is NOT claimed. If the words “Owner verified” appear, it is claimed.
  2. After verifying your listing (you will need to be able to answer the business phone to verify it immediately), complete all the details, including verifying your location on the map, adding business details, photos and videos. A good set of step-by-step instructions are available from Acorn Internet Services.
  3. Set up alerts on Google and Yahoo for your business name and web address, so that any postings will trigger emails to you.
  4. Go to TripAdvisor and edit your listing, subscribing to be notified of any reviews.

These simple steps will help you be aware of any mentions (reviews or otherwise) of your property. Setting up your Place Page will avoid pitfalls of a spammer claiming it, correct any errors of location, etc., and provide your own photos and videos of your property, so it can be portrayed in the best light.

As more and more travelers use smartphones to find and book a property, the importance of appearing well in the tools they will be using can not be overstated.

Scott Thomas is the founder of About the Inn, and a frequent conference speaker on technical issues affecting innkeepers, including guest management software, social media, reputation management, web design, search engine optimization, analytics, and similar topics.

Posted in Reviews, Social Media, Technology Tagged with: , , ,