Google Places is another option for promoting your business online, and it helps you rise to the top of the local search results. I recently set one up for a client, and I’ve been scouring articles and help forums looking for any sort of optimization tips available. Keep reading for ideas on how to improve a Google Places page for search engines and users.
Google Places is a free local business listing option. In order to set one up, you must have a physical mailing address. During setup, you can search for your business listing by phone number. If Google doesn’t already associate a business with the number, you can continue to add a new listing, including the following information: company name, address, phone number, description and website. There are other optional pieces of information that you can submit as well, but we’ll talk about those in a bit. After you submit your information Google will have you verify your business by phone or by sending you a postcard with pin to the address you gave them.
Optimizing Your Places Page for Google and Users
After you setup and verify, it’s time to edit your Places Page. With a few strategic moves, you can help your Places Page move toward the top of the business listing results.
1.) Add keywords to your business description and categories. When a user views a search result that has a Google Places listing, it will be pinpointed on a map next to the results. Google Maps listings are the same as search results – they use an algorithm in order to list the most relevant results first. Your description should include the most important keywords for your business, and the content should flow naturally. If you need some additional tips on writing for SEO, check out Rob’s post on SEO copy writing.
2.) Create individual pages for multiple locations (bulk upload available and Google allows you to add up to 100 single listings). If you have several locations with different physical addresses and local phone numbers (not your corporate 1800 number), it’s best to make them their own pages so that they are more relevant to the area and the searcher.
3.) Add your own images to your Places Page. Google states that they may add photos gathered from web search results and various sources on the web. This is another reason why it’s important to keep a strong web presence and be aware of all your listings having correct business information. I’ve been looking into adding images and videos to this client’s page, and optimizing those as well, however, it seems that this is receiving mixed reviews among SEO experts from what I’ve read. I would recommend optimizing them, not just for Google’s benefit, but as a user, I get more excited viewing Google Places page if there is more to see than just text.
4.) For video uploads, Google makes it easy to enter the URL of a video that you’ve uploaded to Youtube. You’re allowed to upload up to 5 videos for each listing. In order to keep your business consistent across different mediums and listings, check out these tips for video SEO before you upload to Youtube.
5.) Add Google Places to Analytics for tracking its progress. I have an unfortunate barrier with the Google Places page that I just set up – we don’t have access to the backend of the website because it’s owned by a corporate company and we’re working with a small fish of that company. Therefore, there’s no Analytics account. However I’m eager to set this up in on future Places page. Here are some great tips on how to tag your Places traffic in Google Analytics from Rebecca Lehmann on SEOmoz. You don’t have to opt Places into Google Analytics in order to see how your listing is performing. The dashboard in Places will show you statistics for impressions, actions, and will also show you the search query someone used to find you.
6.) Provide Google with a complete and accurate profile of your business. There are a lot of optional sections when you set up a Google Places profile. If you’re dealing with a client who might have set up their own page in the past, or one that just wasn’t done correctly, it’s important to clarify that all of the info from operation hours to services offered are accurate and complete.
7.) Encourage your clients to leave reviews on your Google Places page, and remember that a dissatisfied customer is more likely to spread negative reviews than a happy one is to speak highly of your business. When you do receive negative reviews, respond to them timely and in a nice, professional manner. No matter what someone’s attitude may be toward your business, remember to keep personal feelings out, thank them for feedback, and do anything that you reasonably can to improve their bad experience (and vice versa for thrilled customers).
8.) Use other business listing options – Back in January, Caleb wrote a post that outlines different options for local listings. A few examples include Yelp, Urban Spoon, City Voter, Insider Pages, and Blogspot. Google allows you to have reviews from sites like these pulled into the information on your Google Places page. Interested customers can see that your business is relevant and read more about it. Your Places Page can get reviews from three sources: Google Maps users, reviews sent by a third party, and reviews collected across the web.
9.) Consider using available advertising options with your Places listing. In addition to AdWords, Google now has Boost ads, similar to AdWords in that you only pat for it if it receives a click. These ads won’t help your organic ranking, but they can appear along with your organic listing. A Boost ad will appear with a red marker if your business already appears in organic results, or a blue marker if it doesn’t. Implementing a Places Page with an additional form of advertising only increases your likeliness of being seen by a customer.
10.) Make them an offer they can’t refuse! Utilize your option in Google Places to give users special discounts that they can print or access from their mobile phone. The point of a local listing is to make it easier for your customers to find you and ultimately spend money with you, so you might as well give them a reason to choose you above the competition!
Image from Google
Jessica is an Assistant Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.