When it comes to local SEO tactics, it really all starts and ends with Google Places optimization.
You may have noticed on search engine results pages (SERPs) lately that Google Place page listings have been given a certain amount of prominence on the first page of results if that search has a matching local business component. A map is usually featured as well.
Google and other search engines tend to use a different set of ranking criteria for local business listings compared to the factors used for ranking web sites/pages/domains. Mostly, it relies on citations, or how your business name, address and phone number show up on the web. For our discussion here, let’s call citations by its more common name, the business listing.
When it comes to ranking factors, Google will take into account the number of times your business is listed out on the internet, regardless of whether the information actually contains a link to your website or not. So it is very important that your citation, or business listing, is in as many places as possible and always in the same exact format.
Let me repeat that last bit again: your listing mustbe in the same exact format in all of your citations. That means if your phone number is listed as (757) 123-4567 on Google Places but is written as 757-123-4567 on your website and 757.123.4567 on Bing Local, and 757-1234567 on Yahoo! Local, you’re going to have problems.
We’ll soon be publishing an article on how to write proper citations and where you can submit/claim listings for your local business, but for now let’s get back to Google Places optimization.
The most important part of the entire process is submitting your basic information and then claiming your business through Google’s verification system.
Begin by going to this page and entering your business phone number. If your business is found, proceed by clicking the Edit button. If it is not listed, then click the Add a New Listing button.
When editing or creating your listing, you really want to fill out every field possible, and do it as thoroughly as possible. Don’t use marketing/sales speak. Definitely do not stuff keywords into your Business Name unless they really fit. As usual when dealing with Google, don’t try to be sneaky. However you do want to give every field on this listing an answer if it is possible. If you don’t know or can’t think of what text to fill out then simply skip it and move on. You’ll be able to edit the listing many times in the future once you get past the initial set up and verification process.
See our article about claiming your business listing on Manta for tips on how to create the best answers for each part of your listing. Also, consider uploading photos and linking to any videos you have hosted on Youtube.
Once you’re finished editing your business listing, you will need to verify that you’re authorized to edit the business/Place page. Hit the Submit button and you’ll be shown one or two choices for verification. If you’re able to answer the phone at your business, definitely select that option for speed’s sake. If you are doing this for a client or you’re not able to answer the phone for whatever reason, select the postal mail option and wait until that verification post card is mailed to you.
In conclusion, the Google Places page is really the epicenter and the anchor of your local SEO efforts, but the real work is only just beginning. Stay tuned for our next article on how to obtain more business listings/citations.
We’d also like to hear from you. What has your experience been with getting your business ranked in Google Places?