Google Place Page Optimization Tips – Get Your Local Business Found on Google
For many small businesses the first step in optimizing their online presence should be establishing a solid local search foundation. If your business relies on customers in a specific geographic area, a local search presence isn’t a luxury; it has quickly become a necessity.
Local search is more important than ever as consumers move away from local newspapers, yellow pages, and other forms of local media and move towards online review sites, social networking, mobile searches and local internet searches.
Having the right local search foundation will mean the difference between customers finding you or your competitors. If you want to survive and thrive as a local business, you need to get into the Local Search game.
The best first step a local business can take in local search is to claim your Google Places listing. Google is the undisputed leader in all things search and has renewed its emphasis on local search in the last 12 months. Google completely revamped the way it displays maps in search results, launched new services like tags (already retired), Google Boost, Hotpot (a rating system inside of Places) and Google+, the new Google social network that has some people saying it could give Facebook a run for its money( more on Google+ coming soon)!
Google has started showing local results for keywords without geographical qualifiers. Trying doing a search for pizza, do you see any local results? All of this means that Google wants to stay a big player in local search – And that means you need to get your business on Google Places and you need to optimize your listing.
Here are 6 Google Place Page optimization tips that will make sure you set up your page correctly, and maximize the impact it will have in the search engines. These optimization tips are some of the best practices we have discovered in setting up Google Place Pages for our clients. Now we’ll share that expertise with you.
If your company has a local address, chances are that Google has already created a Google Places Page for you. The page may even have a few photos and some information about the business. But in order to truly make your Place Page work for your business you need to claim the listing and build out your profile.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that the information on the page is correct and then you need to optimize the info you put on your Place Page. Make sure you fill out each section inside places – these include Basic Information, Service Areas and Locations, Hours of Operations, Payment Options, Photos, Videos, and Additional Details.
You need to fill this entire profile out in order to optimize your page and maximize your results. When you are finished, make sure the “business info” bar at the top of your profile in the Places Dashboard reads – 100% complete.
One of the big issues local businesses run into when trying to get found online is that different online directories like Google Places, yp.com, superpages, yelp, Yahoo, etc. will each have different information about the business. A phone number may be wrong. It could be 1 wrong number in the address, a misspelled street name.
Each of these directories aggregates data from different areas of the web and more often than not, the info doesn’t match exactly. An advanced tactic for your business would be to sign up for at least 2-4 other directories besides Google Places and MAKE SURE the data is exactly the same as your place page, which is exactly the same as your website. You can then also sign up for the universal business listing at ubl.org, which will help to make sure each directory on the web has the same vital statistics for your business. Making sure these match is important when you are trying to get exposure in Google Maps and in the local search engine results.
Optimization Tip #2 – Use All 10 Pictures
When you are uploading photos to your Places Profile why stop at 1 or 2? Go for the maximum allowed, upload all 10!
I see only 1 or 2 pictures all the time on Place Pages and it drives me nuts. First of all, Google has basically built a free website for your business. Use it to its fullest advantage and upload as many pictures as you can. Secondly, Google reads your profile when it is deciding where to place your business in its map results. At least show Google that you cared enough to upload as many pictures as possible.
You also need to upload video to your Place Page. There is room for 5 videos on each page but it isn’t as important to use all 5 as it is to use all 10 pictures. Uploading video to your place page is super easy. First you need to upload the video to YouTube, then you just insert the video URL into your Place Page profile and the video automatically appears on your Page.
While you don’t have to use all 5, I would recommend using at least 3 videos on your Google Place Page. It depends on how competitive your market is. If you are an HVAC specialist and that is a competitive vertical in your town, I would go for all 5. The more effort you show Google, the more it rewards your Place Page.
An advanced Place Page optimization move is to use free software like Animoto to quickly and easily create professional looking videos for your Place Page. Animoto is super easy to use and creating a top-notch video is as easy as uploading some photos.
Other ideas include making a quick introduction video with your webcam or smartphone or turning a PowerPoint presentation into an educational video on a site like SlideShare. I have seen some truly professional, high-quality videos on Place Pages but they don’t have to cost you a fortune. I personally love Animoto and think it is a great tool to get started making promotional videos for your Place Page.
Place Page Tip #3 – Put Your Keywords in Your Categories
Google gives you 5 opportunities to fill in categories about your business on your Place Page. On only 1 of these do you have to choose from Google’s drop-down menu of categories. So if you are a plumber in Charlotte, North Carolina specializing in leak detection you could have category 1 be “plumber” (chosen from the drop-down menu) and category 2 be “leak detection.”
This will help the local search engine better define your business and the services offered. If you use all the categories to your advantage, you will truly optimize your Place Pages exposure. In a recent survey of local SEO professionals, category associations were the most powerful ranking factor after having the correct address and claiming your listing.
To stay with the Charlotte Plumber example, the categories could be plumber, leak detection, emergency plumbing, sewer cleaning, 24 hour plumber. Having these keywords in your categories will make it easier for your place page to rank in the local search engine for those terms. But be careful….NEVER include geographical qualifiers in your categories. This means DO NOT use categories like “charlotte plumber “or “charlotte emergency plumbing.” This practice violates the Google Places TOS and could get your page de-listed or knocked back to the bottom of the rankings.
Google Places Optimization Tip #4 – Max Out the Additional Details Section
Google Places gives you, the business owner, a blank canvas on how to promote your business with its Additional Details section. I see so many Place Pages that do not use this section at all. That is akin to telling the yellow pages, “No Thanks for the free extra 1/4 of a page, I’ve promoted myself enough with just these 2 lines.”
Places gives you the opportunity to let people know anything you want them to know about your business, don’t pass it up. The formatting is a little odd so it takes some thought to organize how you want to optimize your business listing in this area.
Staying with the Charlotte plumbing example, here are some ideas for this section:
Services: Leak Detection, Emergency 24 Hour Plumbing, Sewer Cleaning, Tankless Water Heater Installation
Areas Serviced: Charlotte, Matthews, Pineville, Huntersville, Mecklenburg County, Union County
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Licensed & Bonded: Yes
Better Business Bureau: Yes
Angies List: Yes
Senior Citizen Discount: Yes – 10%
Other Services: Free Estimates, Emergency Service, Drain Cleaning
I think you get the idea. The possibilities are endless. It is crazy not to take advantage of this section inside of Google Places. In order to fully optimize you place page, you must fully utilize this section. Here is a bonus tip…maybe you noticed it in the thumbnail screenshot at the beginning of this section. List out your social media profiles in your additional details section. The top detail in the thumbnail is:
Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/ProvidenceCountryClub
This will show a link to your social media profiles in your Place Page Listing – pretty cool, huh?
Make sure you use this section to let your customers know everything you can about your business. Using targeted keyword phrases in this area will help you in your local and organic SEO efforts so be thorough and do some keyword research before you fill out the additional details.
Places Tip #5 – Share Updates and/or Offers
Google+ was released in beta this past weekend (more on that in an upcoming post). The release of this new social network from Google shows that Google is committed to social sharing and rating. Hotpot, Buzz, Places, Profiles – it looks like many Google services are about to become integrated into Google+. In order to make this service work, Google needs people and businesses to update their information often and stay relevant. Google has already announced that it will have business profiles in Google+. And these profiles will probably be connected to your Place Page. Two ways to stay relevant and constantly update your place page is to put out both updates and offers.
You can post an update to your Place Page right from the dashboard. Updates expire in 30 days and will be automatically removed from you Place Page at the expiration date. Examples of good relevant updates could be:
- Buy 1 Get 1 Kids Meals This Month
- Free Small Ice Cream Cone With Mention Of Our Place Page
- Live Music Tonight!
- Wednesdays are Ladies Night
A good way to think of these updates about your business are as something that you might include in an ad in a small local paper or magazine.
Offers on your Place Page are more like coupons that can be redeemed at your business. These coupons can either be displayed on a mobile phone or printed out to be redeemed as an old-school coupon. Offers have their own dashboard in Google Places and are much more elaborate than updates. While updates are limited to 160 characters, offers are broken up into sections.
You get a headline – 25 characters – example – 15% off any pizza
Subheading – 35 characters – example – We have lots of toppings
Details – 250 characters – Redeem this offer at any of our locations to get 15% off any pizza. Any toppings, Any crust. Come taste the woodfired goodness!
You can add an image. You get to set the expiration date. You can even add an offer code. All offers are printable and you can opt in to allowing them to be used on a mobile device.
Check out the Google Place Page Editorial Guidelines for more information on how to construct a good and valid offer.
For our purposes here, I just want to make sure you take advantage of all aspects of Google Places. Google is investing a lot of time, energy, money and resources into Places and they will reward the businesses that use it to its fullest with solid local rankings. Using offers and updates aren’t enough on their own, but if you implement the other ideas in this article AND use updates/offers, you will be better optimized than 99% of businesses with Place Pages.
Google Place Page Tip #6 – Get and Respond to Reviews
In today’s world, you have to get and monitor your online reviews. Your Place Page is a great place to do this because it will not only show reviews made directly on your place page by Google users, it will also aggregate reviews you get on other sites and display them on your Place Page.
It is essential that you begin to get online reviews.
Don’t let the fear of a bad review stop you from using this feature on your Place Page. You should be asking all of your customers to review your business on your place page. In today’s world of social media sharing, your online reputation is extremely important. Customers are willing to forgive a bad review here and there, as long as you handle yourself with grace and dignity. NEVER instigate an argument in public, on a review site. Simply acknowledge the customers opinion and apologize if necessary. For most businesses it is only a matter of time before they get at least one bad online review…nobody is perfect! But wouldn’t you rather have 50 or 100 good reviews, next to that 1 bad one when it happens. That will certainly dilute the bad review when it comes.
A nice feature Google has recently added to Place Pages is the ability to respond to reviews left on your page by Google users. As I mentioned earlier, Place Pages aggregate reviews from around the web and you will not be able to respond to reviews left on other sites and displayed on your page. You will need to go to those respective sites to respond to those reviews. But now you can respond to reviews left directly on your Place Page…which is another good reason to direct all of your customers there. You will be able to respond should they leave you a bad review.
No one knows for sure how much reviews influence the local search rankings but they certainly do play a role. The more active you are on your Place Page, the better experience your customers will have and the more Google will reward you for providing that experience. At the same time you will be protecting your online reputation as you optimize your Google Place Page and killing 2 birds with one stone is something everything time-starved small business owner can get excited about!
I hope you have enjoyed these Google Place Page Optimization Tips.
By implementing these 6 easy tips, you will be miles ahead of your competition. But try to move quickly. There is an early mover advantage in the world of local search engine rankings and Google is about to put some strong moves behind promoting Place Pages (especially if they end up playing a role in Google+).
I expect more and more local businesses to jump on board Place Pages, which is going to make it more difficult to rank for local keywords. Get in now, while the getting is good and watch your business build its local exposure and reach.
Google is quickly making the yellow pages completely obsolete. Be sure to promote your business in the places people are looking to do business. And one of those Places is Google.These tips have helped us rank our clients Place Pages at the top of the results, now they can do the same for you!
Maximize the impact of your Google Places Page with the optimization tips above. Your business will thank you for it.
P.S. – If this is too much Greek for you or if you are a busy biz-owner who doesn’t have the time to do all this, let us help. Contact us here and mention this blog post for a killer discount on our Google Places Optimization Services.