Part 1 – Optimizing Your Google Places Business Listing

Travis Van SlootenSmall Business SEO

It is extremely important to optimize your Google Places listing if you want to be ranked well on search results and attract new customers to your business. There are a number of factors that affect how well your optimization works to improve your ranking. This will be a three part series on your optimizing your Google Places page.

Proximity

Your business address must be located in the city you are wanting to optimize for. Google not only owns Google Places but also this thing called Google Maps which, believe it or not, can actually tell where your address is based on latitude and longitude coordinates it automatically pulls based on an address. This means that if your business is located in a suburb of a major city and you optimize for the major city and not the suburb you are out of luck, and your listing will most likely show up for neither one.

For instance if your business address says Eden Praire, Minnesota don’t put that your business is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a rule of thumb whatever address you registered your LLC or company with is the address you should use. For those that use the wrong city Google may think you are gaming the system and will possibly ban your account.

Completeness

When you are ready, you can go ahead and build your Google Places Listing. A few things to remember when you completing your listing:

A) Do not use commas and do not stuff city or industry specific keywords in when you fill out the categories or the other parts of the listing.

B) Your phone number should be a local phone number, not a toll free phone number. If you would like to include your toll free phone number in your listing, you should include it as a secondary number, not the primary phone number.

The Google Places Title

You should only use your actual company name for the title of your business’s Google Places page. Do not add keywords to the title or business name just to try to increase your ranking. You can and likely will be suspended from Google Places if you try to do this. You also want to make sure that you input the legal name of the business exactly as you will on your citations and other 3rd party directory sites.

The Google Places Description

When you write your business description, you are ready to start using your keywords or phrases. You will want to use one or two of your keywords when you write your description. You also want to use as much of the character limit as you can.

Make sure that you are writing something that will accurately describe your business to potential customers. This is also an area where you can give directions on finding your business if it is difficult to locate.

Photographs for Your Google Places Page

It is always recommended to use photographs on your Google Places page and there are some very specific benefits to doing so. When you add pictures you can tag them or name them and use keywords in the photograph’s title or tags.

If you upload them directly to Google Places, you cannot use keywords in the descriptions of the pictures. If you add them from another website like Photobucket or Insider Pages, you can use keywords in the descriptions and tags and you can Geo Code the pictures, which will allow you to tag them with the business’s location which help add to your credibility for owning a business in that location. Also make sure that you use the maximum ten photographs for your listing.

Here are a few more tips:

A) When you choose the first photograph that you are going to upload, carefully select it because it will most likely be the photograph that everyone will see when they view your Google Places Listing. You can also add a caption to the photograph before you upload it and save the file with the caption on it, and then upload it so your caption shows on your Google Places listing.

B) Take a few of the best reviews or testimonials that you have gotten from your customers and turn them into pictures or picture art. You can take these pictures and upload them into the photograph area of your Google Places listing.

C) Whenever possible, you should ask your customers or friends to upload their pictures to your Google Places listing using their own Google account. This is a way to end up with more than the ten photographs that you are allotted and it looks great for your potential customers who are browsing over your Google Places page.

Videos for Your Google Places Page

Videos are an important part of getting a high ranking with Google Places as well. You will want to use the maximum amount of 5 videos that are allowed just like you did with the photographs. You can use videos from YouTube that have been Geo tagged which helps when it comes to your ranking with Google Places. If you do not have videos to use, take the time to make a few with Animoto.com or consider hiring someone to make them for you.

Listing Categories for Your Google Places Page

There are some definite guidelines that must be followed when you fill out the categories section on your Google Places listing. You use these fields to describe what your business is, not what you do or what you sell. The categories that you use on Google Places need to be the same as those on any other review sites or directories. It is best that once you start typing that you use the categories that pre-populate and Google recognizes already for your type of business. Don’t make up categories.

If there are multiple terms that accurately describe what your business is, than you can use them. If there is only one way to describe what your business is, than leave the rest of the category fields empty and do not include your location in any of the category fields.

Offers for Your Google Places Page

The offers section of your Google Places listing is another important area that you can use to help improve your ranking. You have the opportunity to use keywords or phrases in the text for the offer. It will also help to improve the conversion rate of turning Google searchers on your Google Places page into customers calling or walking through your door.

Here are a couple tips:

A) Add more than one offer to your listing. You could go crazy and place twenty of them if you would like, but that may be too many to manage. Just offer more than one type of discounts for your customers to choose from with a call to action like “Call Today.”

B) When you create your “offers” add photographs of the products that are being discounted. Offers on Google Places pages tend to be more noticeable when they have a photograph instead of just plain text.