Google Places: A social media 'how to' for CPA firms
By Roy Keely
Want to be found? Of course the answer is yes. If someone has an itch related to taxes, you would be remiss not to make sure you were one of the ways he or she could scratch that itch. One of the best ways to be found in your local area as it relates to Google searches is to ensure your business is set up with Google Places .
What is Google Places?
Google Places is a way of raising your hand on the Web, ensuring that your business is found if someone in your local area or region is searching for a CPA firm. It's a simple process that takes zero (if you choose) maintenance.
It is what I call a Static + Dynamic social media site for a business - meaning it's completely permissible and normal to create a profile that is not constantly needing to be updated, as opposed to Twitter or a blog which are completely dynamic sites because your worth and credo here are built on the constant updating of information.
With Google Places, you can set it and forget it if you would like. There are, of course, ways to dynamically post and feed content into your profile. But you can worry about that after you register.
Why is Google Places important?
Recruiting – People turn to the Web to search for jobs and, these days, they are concerned with how far it is from their home. Therefore, they often look up driving directions. Google Places is great because you can see a dashboard of how many people click for driving directions, as well as from what area they are searching. What we have seen at Xcentric is that when we have a job posting hit the Web and/or post it to our Web site; we see an increase in our Google Places traffic because people are wondering how to find our office and how far it is from their house.
Local relevance – Social media, if nothing else, can and should be used as a brand thermometer for your firm. How many times are you showing up in local area searches? How many times are you being clicked on? What terms are they using to find me? The Google Places dashboard allows you to easily discern all of this. It gives live stats on where your firm is showing up on Google's local search results. Below you can see how Xcentric fares with our local searches and the terms used to find us.
How should we interpret this information might be the next question. Well, it makes me feel good that people are going to the Web to search for our company by name, and that they want to know where we are. This shows we have a strong brand, relatively speaking, and people are looking for us specifically. The generic technology term results in the list above have a presence because of how we have set up our profile on the site, stating we are a technology services company. The graphic below shows the summary of all the impressions, or views, along with all the actions people took to become more acquainted with our firm.
This is a no brainer for your CPA firm. It doesn't take a techie or a developer to do this; anyone can go and do it in your firm. Be sure to document the credentials and who has access to your account so your firm's information, such as your address and the services you offer, can be updated when need be.
About the author:
Roy Keely serves as director of marketing at Xcentric, which specializes in Cloud Computing and IT consulting for CPA firms. Keely graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Marketing and has extensive experience in marketing, branding, and sales. He can be reached at (678) 297-0066, Ext. 525 or firstname.lastname@example.org . For more about Xcentric, go to www.xcentric.com  or follow the company at www.xcentric.com/blog  and www.twitter.com/xcentric .