All posts in Mobile

5 Tips for Getting the Most out of Google Places

Before I get into the tips, I should probably first give a little primer on Google Places and why you might care about it.   Google Places is a database of local business information that is used by Google in a large number of ways.   If you have a brick and mortar store or a public place for business information and you’re interested in being found when people search for you from their computer or phone, you should pay attention.   The Google Places database is a very important asset for Google and the date in it is being leveraged more and more in search results.   This trend will surely continue as the mobile web becomes a bigger slice of the internet pie.

If you are a web only company with no public place of business, you can ignore this post  🙂


5 Tips for Getting the Most out of Google Places

1.)   Create a listing

Google Places listings are free and creating one is generally not difficult.  Google does a good job at the main Google Places page helping business owners getting started.

Beyond simply helping you to create a listing (claim your listing if it already exists), Google gives specific tips on how to create a good listing.

2) Tweak your listing

Google maps listings (where Google Places live) are similar to Google search in that there is an algorithm for determining which listing to show.   How does it work?   Good question.   As you can imagine, it’s just like the standard Google Search Ranking algorithm:  It is not perfectly clear, there are many opinions and it’s complicated.   However, like the rest of SEO, there are “best practices”  that should be followed regardless of how much you are willing to invest in optimization.   Important factors are the completeness of your listing and the words in the content you provide.  Add keywords to your company description and business categories that would be used by prospective searchers.

For in depth look at Google Places optimization you can also refer to this excellent post at  If you want some help, contact us.

3.)   Encourage your happy customers to leave reviews!

Google reviews have become more important recently and I suspect that reviews will continue to grow in importance – perhaps integrating with Google Plus at some point in the future.

How do you encourage customers to leave reviews?  Make it a habit to ask.   I am a big believer in investing in customer feedback in the eCommerce environment.   I think it’s important for companies to get good at getting feedback back from customers.   Are you asking for that feedback?   Are you responding to good feedback with a follow up request for the customer to tell others (via a review on your site or throught their social network)?

4.)   Buy advertising

This might not be for everyone, but if local search is important to you you might want to pursue promoting your listing either with Adwords Location Extensions or with Google Adwords Express campaign.   With geotargeting and device targeting,  you could land very local searchers searching from mobile devices on your Google Places page rather than your website.

5.)   Create an Offer

Google Places has an option to create Places Offers for your listing.   Offers allow you to provide show special coupons in your listing.   Places visitors can access these, i.e from their mobile phone.

Places Mobile Check InThere is also a new offer format called Mobile Check-In Offers.   Here’s how Google describes in on the Places Help site “When users for businesses using Google for mobile devices, they’ll be able to access your Google Places Offer on their phone. “

For more info check out the Mobile Check In Offers page.

Thanks for the emails and please keep them coming.     Let me know what traction you’re getting from Google Places and feel free to ask any questions you have.



Note on KPIs:  If you know Timberline, you know that we are Google Analytics wonks.   However, the tracking of Google Places traffic in Analytics did not make the 5 tips above.   The reason?  It’s just a little too complicated to “do it right” (in quotes because the definition of “right” will vary from company to company).   However, if you are interested in the details, give us a call.   Also, here is a very helpful post by Rebecca Lehmann that outlines the options.

Optimize email for mobile devices

According to a report from Knotice over 20% of retail email is opened on a mobile device. This number has certainly grown since Q4 2010. Are your emails optimized for a mobile device? According to Kathie Ross of Email Energetics you should follow these tips in the design of your email:
1. Include pre-header text at the top that is clickable
2. Include link to mobile version which is a text version.
3. Top navigation should be text links
4. Use alt text on images

Checking mobile usage in Google Analytics

Do you know how many visitors are accessing your website via a mobile device?

Mobile commerce is one of the hottest topics being discussed in eCommerce. However, mobile commerce is tiny compared to overall web sales. According to Forrester’s Mobile Commerce Forecast, 2011 To 2016, retailers can expect an average of 2% of their online sales to be transacted using a mobile device in 2011. According to the report this number is expected to grow to 7% of total online sales by 2016.

Where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you need to have a bigger mobile presence? Do the math. If online sales via a mobile device is a significant dollar amount it is probably time to begin investing in a mobile solution for your website. You can’t know unless you’re reviewing the data. Start by checking monthly. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website you can check your mobile usage stats by going to Visitors > Mobile > Mobile Devices.

If you are using the new version of Google Analytics go to Visitors > Technology > Mobile