Google Places optimization has never been more critical for your local SEO then it is today in 2012. With the shift in how potential customers will find your products or services (Iphones,Ipads,Androids,etc.); it is critical that you take the necessary steps to properly optimize your Google Places page. If you won’t take my word, here is a few stats to soak in.
- Around 70-75% of all online search activity is to find local content. (reference: Google)
- Over 80% of local searchers will call you or come to the local business location. (reference: TMP/comScore)
- 66% of Americans use local search as primary way to research and find local businesses (reference: comScore)
Finally if you are still not convinced of the importance of Google Places Optimization, have you took notice of the new changes that Google has done with it’s search listings. Local search listings are now starting to rank higher than organic search results. So if the big Google is taking local search serious, I hope this will convince you Mr. Business Owner to take your local search rankings seriously.
Ok enough preaching – let’s get to google places optimization tips and techniques to help with your local search rankings.
Basic Tips For Google Places Optimization
- Claim Your Listing: Well this google places optimization tip is obvious but you will be surprised how many business owners fail to this basic step.
- Complete 100% of Listing: After claiming your listing, you need to complete all fields. This means add all the pictures and videos you can, add business hours, add coupons, fill out everything. Without adhering to this google places optimization tip – everything else will be of no use.
- Encourage Customers to Leave Recommendations: This can be tough to get customers to log in and leave details. Google doesn’t make this process any easier, as the user must have a google account. One thing we at Chase Web Solutions recommend to our customers is a service called Review Cards. We have seen customers reviews increase by leveraging a 3rd Party service like this.
So the above google places optimization tips can almost be considered as mandatory (maybe not reviews), I would say the major common mistake that most business owners make initially is not completely filling out there places data – I can’t tell you how critical this step is.
Advanced Tips For Google Places Optimization
- Use Keywords For Categories: Now this google places optimization tip requires that some keyword research or competitive analysis be done. But what we have found to work really well is for your first category choose one that Google provides. The rest of the categories (you have 5), you should create custom categories that combine your keywords. Also never use more than 3 words for a category, and a category should be “Who You Are, not What You Do?” – Very Important!
- Use Keywords In Description: This google places optimization tip allows you an opportunity to rank for more keywords. Your Description should still read well, but we always use keywords that we couldn’t use as categories in our description. This allows for the potential to rank well for more keywords.
- Optimize Photos and Videos: This is a nice google places optimization tip. Now I won’t get into details here as too how to optimize the photos and videos, but I will say this – we never upload our Photos directly to the Google Places Page, we also use the URL option. We store our Photos on Panaramio (Google owns this!), and we then link our Photos from Panoramio. The filename of our photos are the category keywords, and we also use keywords in the photo description. We do the same thing for videos, we host them on Youtube. What we have found is this google places optimization really helps rankings in competitive niches like Lawyers and Dentist – every little trick counts.
- Don’t Miss Out On Coupons: Coupons is another place where you can perform google places optimization. We have seen that this also helps with ranking second tier keywords.
- Get Listed In Other Directories: Also known as citations, it’s key to get as many citations as you possibly can. Google uses these off page citations as a ranking factor. In competitive niches this is critical to any success to show up on the first page local listings. To spy on your competition, this is a nice tool we use – Whitespark Local Citation Finder.
Now if you adhere to these google places optimization tips above you will be well ahead of most of your competition. For the remaining competition you will need to dig in deeper.
I can’t get into the details here (maybe another post), but you will need to build off page linking strategies (not to your google places page) to your website, youtube videos, and other directory listings that you have (i.e. Yelp, Bing, Merchant Circle, Kudzu, etc.).
Also you will need to do some tricks on your website that if done right will cause your website and google places page to work in tandem (very powerful technique).