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10 Ways to Improve Google Places Ranking

What?

Ranking locally is much more critical with the evolvement of local listings across the web such as Google Places, Bing BBP, Yahoo local and the various social media channels. Google Places seems to consistently drive more traffic than any other local channel, sometimes upwards of 40% share of referring traffic for many of our clients.

Why?

Google has 65% market share at the moment, making Google Places the most important local listing to focus your attention on. This should be followed by Bing & Yahoo.

In October, Google updated their SERPs to showcase local listings alongside your organic result making your local listing that much more important. It’s now absolutely crucial to have your local listing 100% optimized and in sync with your on page/off page website strategy as well.

Google Places Listing

How?

So what can you do to improve your chances of ranking well locally? Below are the top 10 things you can do to improve your chances of ranking high and converting traffic from your Google local listings.

  1. On-page optimization: Use the correct geo-location in all on-page optimization. Do not use the geo-location that you would like to rank for. For example, if you are located in Sunnyvale, you should use “Sunnyvale hotel” and not “Santa Clara hotel”. Its fine to use “Hotel near Santa Clara” but to state “Santa Clara Hotel” would not be accurate or helpful to your local strategy.
  2. Local Submissions: Submit your website/business information to local data providers such as Acxiom, InfoUsa and Localeze. These data providers will feed your business information across the web to other business information channels, helping you build credibility across the web. In the long run, local submissions help you gain more local relevance and trust with the search engines and public users.  It is critical to ensure your business information on your website is accurate and consistent across all of these sources. Incorrect business information will result in distrust from search engines and the public, and will negatively impact your local ranking and conversion.
  3. Claim Google Places listings:  The ability to optimize your listing is only possible once it is claimed and verified by you, the owner. This is a great way for you to control the information about your business.
  4. Optimize Your Local Listing Account to 100%:  Ensure each of the below buckets are optimized and completed.
    • Correct business information: Ensure name, address, and phone number  (NAP) on listing & website is correct.
    • Categories: this is how Google knows what type of business you are.
    • Hours of Operation
    • Photos
    • Videos
    • Additional Details
    • Update Place Page: Promote specials or events with specific calls to action
    • Google Reviews Management Response: Respond to Google reviews via your Google Places account.
  5. Encourage Online Reviews:  Online reviews play into the local ranking algorithm. It’s not so much about the amount of reviews your hotel receives, but the quality of your reviews.  Research which third party review sites are important to your industry/location and target those first. Don’t forget to encourage online reviews directly via your website as well. Google can now index your website reviews and pull them into your local listing. The more reviews, the better!
  6. Respond to reviews:  Doing so can help build/improve your hotel’s online reputation as it shows that management places great importance on customer service and satisfaction. Not only will this result in higher trust, but it can also lead to return visitors/guests.
  7. Build citations from credible/authoritative sources:  Online citations for your business are the equivalent to online referrals for your website.  Citations are not links necessarily, but can be simple mentions of your NAP.  The more credible online citation sources you accumulate, the more likely it is that your Google local listing will rank well.
  8. Claim Hyperlocal listings:   It’s important to claim your Facebook Places, Foursquare, and Gowalla listings. Hyperlocal listings give you local credibility, allow you to gain local relevance, and help you build a stronger local community following.
  9. Ensure you cross-optimize and apply what works on your site to your Places Local Listing:
    • Promote successful packages
    • Promote most viewed/converting pages
    • Promote Social Media channels
  10. Google Boost: Participate in Google Boost to get some early traction to your local listing.  You cannot control which keywords you appear for but it’s a great way to gain some additional exposure.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that local strategy has grown to be much more critical than in the past and your Google Places listing is a great place to begin optimization.   However, make sure you optimize correctly, strategically, and effectively across all buckets for a comprehensive local marketing strategy. It’s the only way to win the local game in the long run.

Sources:

  • GetListed.org: http://getlisted.org/
  • David Mihm Blog: http://www.davidmihm.com/local-search-ranking-factors.shtml
  • The Official Google Blog: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/being-bad-to-your-customers-is-bad-for.html

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Contributed by: Zulema Romero, Sr. Account Manager/eStrategist, Milestone Internet Marketing


11 Responses to “ 10 Ways to Improve Google Places Ranking ”

Hello,
I would like to get a quote for a website redo as mine is over 7 years old.
You can call me anytime PST as I am in Oregon
Mark

Hi Mark – Thanks for your interest. A Milestone representative will be contacting you shortly.

Cheers,
Mike Supple

I’m not sure what you mean by step #9?

Ensure you cross-optimize and apply what works on your site to your Places Local Listing:
Promote successful packages
Promote most viewed/converting pages
Promote Social Media channels

What do you mean by promote on your local listing?

Hello Howard,

Thanks for your question/comment. Much has changed since I posted this back in June of last year.

When I wrote this post, Google was still displaying the “Additional Details” portion of the local listing via their live results. This was a great way of promoting those top viewed pages, social media profiles, and top converting items. Unfortunately, Google has stopped pulling in that section of the Google places listing through live results.

Thanks,
Zulema

Very Interesting!

“Citations are not links necessarily, but can be simple mentions of your NAP”

So, if mention my fictious marketing company (it is to business what the Colbert Report is to news), Mollusk Marketing, here, it becomes more real to Google?

There’s a logic in that. But, as this post illustrates, it’s a metric that sure to be abused, and, then, devalued. I suppose that’s true for every SEO factor.

Good article!

FYI: your Turing Test doesn’t seem to be working properly…

Good tips. I have a client that I want to rank in Google Places and am a bit lost (there’s not as much info out there as there is for SEO.

One thing: I’ve never heard of Google Boost. Is that still around?

Thank you for sharing. But I read an article said High PR sites linking to new sites from a blogroll might have a negative SEO effect. So, is it true?

Thank you for your comment and question. I guess it depends from which side you look at it from. For the high PR site, the fear is that you are actually endorsing a new site that does not have much relevance online yet. This is always a gamble and the high PR site obviously has more at stake than the new site. To that point, if the high PR site wants to link out to newer sites, a “nofollow” tag should be used to prevent PR dilution & page endorsement. See the following information from Google: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/search?q=nofollow

-Zulema Romero, Director of Client Services

Great share !

Google places is a great strategy and I definitely will try it.Can you tell me are “traditional” backlinks effective for Google local?I mean links like social bookmarking sites, article directories, blog commenting, forum posting and so on?A friend of mine has told me that yes, but I’m not sure.Also do social signals affect Google local ranking?

Thanks

Hi

I would like to improve the position of our business listing on Google. We are a Cambridge based removal company and when you perform a google search for removals cambridge or cambridge removals we do not feature anywhere??? We would very much like to come somewhere near the top of the page and would like someone to call me on 07768856486 to assist in this matter please? Thanks.

Dale

Hi Dale – Thanks for your message. A member of our business development team will be in contact with you shortly.

Best,
Mike Supple


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