This article brought to you by MoLo Media and our partner Lynn Wenger of Web Prodigy!

What is Google Places?

Google Places in the simplest terms is now the “Online Yellow Pages”.  65% of all searches are conducted on Google and 20% of those searches are for local businesses.  That equates to 2.8 billion searches for local businesses each month or should I say 93 million per day, yes I said 93 million per day.

So do you think having your business listed in Google Places is important, not as important as having it listed at the number 1 spot.

In October, 2010 Google changed their algorithm to now predict when you are looking for a local business with out using any of the local identifiers like city, zip, county, street or neighborhood.

This represents a huge opportunity for local businesses to not only compete with the big boys, but jump in front of them because they are local.

What determines a business Google Places Rank?

Everyone is wondering what the ranking factors for local search engine optimization. Do you stuff your Google Places page with as many keywords as possible or what?

 

Here are the top 12 (sorry Letterman I added a few) factors that determine your Google Places ranking – from Least important to most important – Which could all change tomorrow

 

 

12 – Add Coupons – Google wants to see people interact and continually come back to Google Places.  By adding and changing out monthly coupons, it creates value to the user experience and helps with your rankings.
11 – Add Tags – Tags are yellow markers that allow business owners to promote important aspects of their businesses.  A tag will make your listing stand out against the rest and give you a little extra in the rankings.

 

10 – Add Boost Ads – Boost ads show up when users search for local businesses; they appear in the “sponsored links” section of Google’s web search.  Boost ads are very cost effective and Google’s advertising algorithm takes care of the details of placement and frequency.

9 – Add pictures
 – Add pictures of your business, products, services and staff.  It is important to name your file appropriately so Google knows what the titles are about.  Additional testing is taking place right now on additional ways to optimize the pictures – stay tuned for an update.

 

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8 – Add video
 – Google owns YouTube and loves videos and they have made it very easy to add your own videos on your Places page.  We have a special technique with videos and YouTube that adds a little extra MOJO to your page.

7 – Proximity of business – 80% of your business comes from within a 5 mile radius of your location and search results are typically inside of this radius in a metropolitan area.  There are many factors in this part and I have seen results outside of this in dense metropolitan areas.  Traditional search engine optimization can help in accomplishing this.

6 – Organic ranking
 – Applying standard SEO practices to your website for your chosen key words does have a significant influence on your local business listing.  In fact I have seen businesses rank high in search results outside of the 5 mile radius that were using SEO strategies for specific keywords.

5- Contact details on your own site
 – This is often overlooked and can have a significant impact on your rankings.  For the best results make sure to put your business contact details including your business name, address and phone number in the footer of your website.   To get even more bang for your buck create an HCARD with latitude/longitude and place it in the footer so the search engines can easily read your business location on every page. – That was worth the price of admission right there, oh wait this didn’t cost you anything.

 

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4 – Add reviews
 – Do not add fake reviews, this is the mortal sin of the Places page.  Help the process of getting reviews by asking your happy customers to add reviews.  Remind them to add the keywords you are targeting and spread them across the different review sites.  By the way, we have a slick review system that we can help you implement.

 

3 – 100% completion
 – If you don’t complete your page 100% you might as well forget about competing for that coveted number one spot.  Google will give you a completion rate; just make sure it says 100%!

2 – Claiming your listing
 – Oddly enough I have seen many businesses that haven’t claimed their Places page, but are still sitting at the number 1 spot.  This is because Google aggregates information from across the entire internet and places it into your places page.  If a business has been around for a long time at the same location, they will naturally have a pretty big foot print out there.  Eventually these listing will drop in the rankings and they need to claim their listing. By claiming your listing, you can make edits to your profile page and add more information about your business. Google wants you to do this and keep it up to date.

1 – The number 1 influence factor for Google business listings – Your Address!
 You want to add your business name, address, phone number and details to as many business directories and websites that you can.  Some more important factors are directories or websites that are related to your location and industry. Many directories allow you to add your business by filling out a form. To get added to industry related websites, you may need to make some calls or send some emails. With a bit of effort, you will get a number of citations that will influence your business listings ranking.

 

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When adding citations for your business, they do not need to include your website. One of the more important factors is making sure that the business name, address and phone number is exactly the same everywhere. If you find a page on the Internet with inaccurate details, you must get the details corrected otherwise it will hurt your rankings.

There are many other factors that can impact your rankings, this list should give you a good starting point for optimizing your Places page.

If you would like to get a list of where your business or competitor is currently listed just let us know.  We have a special tool that can pull your business listings from across the entire Internet.

Wrap Up: Good luck with the local rankings and if you need help or would like me to do this for you at a cost, please email me at zacha@molomedia.com or call us at 425-224-1281.