Google Places 101
Google Places is an excellent starting point to promote your business online, and like most Google tools, it’s 100% free. Here’s how Google Places works.
When new customers search for businesses on Google or Google Maps, they find local business listings based on their keywords and location. Like most online resources, there is significant competition for the top listings. There are several factors Google uses to determine rankings including location match, customer reviews, local citations, and Places page content. Your ranking determines where your listing is placed among other local business and both “paid” and “natural” search results as shown in the example below.
The image above is good example of all three types of search results on the same page. You can clearly see that the top Google Places ranking gets a prominent placement, just below the top paid results and above the highest natural search result.
Local search results above show because the user included a geographical term, “Tacoma” in their search. While there’s not much you can do about your location, there are several tactics you can use to improve your placement among local competition. We discuss these below.
Why is Google Places Critical for Local Businesses?
According to Google, over 20% of all searches are “local”, meaning they contain geographical keywords, and over 40% of all mobile searches are local.”
Since Google Place Pages are viewed millions of times each day, local search optimization is crucial to your business’s success.
Google Places tips
- Claim your listing: In order to get the most out Google Places, you need to verify your listing. Verification will allow you the access you’ll need to fully optimize your page. The easiest method to claim your listing is call verification. When you’re ready to claim your listing simply, search for your Google Page, click the “Business Owner?” link and follow the instructions.
- Complete your business profile: This is a quick and easy step. Be sure to include the most information possible about your company including any associations you belong to and any awards or recognition you’ve received. It’s not necessary to artificially stuff your profile with keywords. Google advises you to “Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world.” For detailed information about business profiles visit Google Places Quality Guidelines. The most important section on the profile page is business category. Currently Google allows up to four categories. Be sure to select every category that’s relevant to your business.
- Add Original Content – Photos and Video: Fill out your Google places profile page with photos of your products, location, and employees. The first image should be your storefront or logo with and should have square dimensions up to a maximum of 1024 x 1024 pixels. Make walk-through tour videos and customer testimonial videos, upload them to YouTube and Google Places, and tag them with your keywords.
- Get Reviews: Reviews have always been an important factor in Google Places, but Google’s recent search results page changes makes them vital. Encourage all of your customers to share their feedback online. The more specifics that a customer can share about their experience, (location details, employee names, etc.) the more effective the review will be for local search rankings. If you happen to get a negative review it is important to respond publicly and stay 100% positive.
- Get Local Citations: A citation is a listing of your business information (name, phone number, address, website link) on another website. Your business partners’ websites, and online directories are a great place to start building citations. Be sure to consistently use the exact same address and phone number because Google counts up all citations that match your Google Places information to determine your placement.
Even after you have optimized your Google Places pages, it’s importing to continue to add citations and content to stay ahead of the competition. For additional tips and long term SEO and Local SEO strategies, contact Armstrong Digital today.