Do you think a Places page with just a link to your Web site is going to cut it?  Time to get your hands dirty, or at least your typing fingers… if your keyboard is dirty.  Start by checking out the top five results for a few different Places searches.  Most of those listings have a lot of information about the business; photos, videos (videos do not have to be your own, they can be links to videos related to your business), hours of operation, contain plenty of details and are verified listings (the business owner verified they made the listing).  So, guess what you should do?  Yep, fill all that in; you’re creating your phonebook ad, which is completely free by the way, so use good grammar and compelling verbiage when necessary.  Don’t post a faded photo you scanned in of your pizza place that you’ve had hanging on the wall since 1986.  Take the time to upload a nice photo that displays the charm of your location, post some interior shots with some smiling customers while you’re at it, “Here’s a slice on the house, say ‘cheese’.”  That was a bad pun, I apologize.
By verifying your listing and filling in all those blanks, you are one step ahead of all the listings who have yet to do this, however, you are still three steps back from the top listings.  This is where relevance and authority comes into play.  Go check out the sections below the photos and videos: the Reviews from around the web, Reviews from Google users, and More about this place.  This is where the action is; links from other sites (inbound links) and traffic on your Place page (activity).  More reviews and inbound links shows Google that you have more authority and should be listed higher.  Invite some customers to write reviews of your business. 

The greater the number of reviews from customers will help in multiple ways.  First, by creating relevance and authority for your page by not only allowing people to read reviews and gain some insight about your business but also it displays that your page has some activity and is more or less functional.  People will click on your page more often to read the reviews.  Those reviews from around the web signal to Google that you have community significance and help boost your listing; the same thing with the external links, in the more about this page section. The bottom line is, the greater your overall online presence, the higher your ranking in the Places listings.  Because inbound links are part of the Places pages, it’s very similar to a regular Google search results page, only Google displays those pages and you can see the inbound links and overall authority and relevance of a Places page right away.

There’s a multitude of ways to gain relevance and authority online.  Don’t get frustrated if things do not happen instantly, because they won’t.  Unbranded, organic search results can take weeks or even months to show results of your efforts to break into the top ten.Guess what? Making a Google Places page isn’t hard.  What have you got to lose?  Did I mention that it’s completely free!  Content is the key.  With great content from your site, blog, social media (you are doing this stuff too, right) and any inbound links and reviews, will compound the authority and relevance of your online presence and only boost your search results ranking further. 
google places, great scott
There are plenty of web marketing books available, some of which are remarkable (see author Seth Godin). Unfortunately, some are exhaustively primitive; attempting to break down the world of online marketing into bite size pieces that even Marty McFly would be able to comprehend if he blasted into the Facebook era and wanted to take a crack at e-marketing.  And none of them mention Google Places (I will refer to it as “Places”).  This is disappointing, because it is such a powerful tool, especially for the small business owner.  Places replaces the big, chunky phonebook; the same phonebook that lawyers would spend tens of thousands of dollars to display a full-page ad.  The Internet, and Google Places in particular, has leveled the playing field.  Small business owner, be small no more!  Get found on Places and you’re nearly guaranteed to generate some business.

People don’t flip through the phonebook anymore; everything is a Google search away, literally right at your fingertips.  Why refer to the phone book when looking for a Chiropractor?  You can Google “Chiropractors in New Brunswick, NJ” and find the ten nearest to your residence right in Google Places; which provides reviews, a Places page with information, and even directs you to the doctors’ Web sites.

I like to get a little background and see what people are saying about the person cracking my back.  Here’s one that reads, “Dr. Hugh Jass is kind and frequently calls to check up on my condition, but I swear he always farts in the treatment room right before he leaves!”  Hmmm, I think I’ll go with Dr. Gregory instead.

Obviously, I'm kidding, but the Places pages are that interactive; allowing not only reviews and inbound links from all over the web to appear on the page, but also enabling photos and videos to be uploaded.  There’s no amount of money that could make a static phonebook advertisement do that.  One pitfall of Google Places; it is rapidly decelerating the production of phonebooks, in turn, depleting the phonebook tearing strongman of source material to destroy.