Google Places is the biggest opportunity ever for locally based businesses to get online, get found, and get more new and repeat business. It’s (relatively) easy to set up, easy to keep up-to-date, easy to manage, and very likely to get used in a way that brings in customers.

The tide is running in your favor, too. People want to shop locally, understanding that it’s better for their communities, for the environment, and, if done carefully, for their pocketbooks. And there are more and more tools to help them to shop near their homes, workplaces, and other favored locations.

Taking advantage of these tools is the tricky bit. Owners of local businesses are responsible for what seems like a million things at once. You have to serve ...

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