In Part 2: Web & Map Listings, I explained in detail the importance of claiming and managing your web and map listings. Well, Google Places is chief among those listings that you need to claim or ‘verify’ if you expect to enhance your local marketing search results.
For those of you who still may not know what it is, Google Places for Business is a free service that allows business owners to update and manage their physical business location information. Updating and managing this information ensures that it will post accurately to correlated services such as Google Maps as well as associated Google properties and search and Display Network sites that make up Google’s vast advertising network. If a general search in Google’s engine is either location-specific or made using a mobile device platform like iPhone or Android, local results are displayed along with the other results.
For the same reasons you ask site visitors to complete an online form so that you get the information about them that you need, your Google Places page, which is really a mini website, acts as a verification tool for Google (hence Google’s request to ‘verify’ your information) to ensure your company is being indexed the right way. Google will aggregate listing information it finds on other listing sites about your company to see if the content – profile description, local phone numbers, and addresses in particular – matches up. If it does not, it could hurt your chances to list prominently in the search results for the terms corresponding to your listing.
All of the preparation work I mentioned in Part 2 of this series is used to develop your Google Places page as well. Google, as well as Bing and Yahoo, are looking for consistency across the web. As I have stated previously, you are trying to establish your authority for the search terms that correspond to what you offer. So you must ensure your Google Places page includes as much of your optimized company information as can be added, including images and video if you have them. Because Google indexes these items, they could also appear in a relevant search result below your local listing information.
In order to get the most mileage out of your Google Places page remember to encourage your happy customers to leave reviews. Customer comments and reviews are published and heavily factored in search engine results ranking. Double lucky for you if you happen to be a local business that is also using Google CheckOut for online orders. If customers are giving you 4 or 5 star ratings on Google CheckOut as well as positive comments on Google Places you are greatly strengthening your chances for organic top ranking and lead generating.
The last item I want to mention is paid advertising. Surely you are all familiar with AdWords – Google’s pay per click search engine advertising program that displays your relevant ads in Google Search, Google Maps and across Google’s vast Display Network based on competitive bidding and the number of clicks your ads receive. Well Google has introduced a similar program called Boost. Google Boost is a form of pay per click search engine marketing that delivers an enhanced version of your Places listing in relevant Sponsored listing results on Google search and Google Maps (including Mobile). The ad content includes:
- Name of your business
- Address and phone number of your business as specified in your Google Places account
- Short description of your business (Google will automatically generate an editable description based on your Google Places listing description)
- Snippet from the Place Page detailing the average star rating and the number of reviews
- Link to your business’ Place Page
I have helped many clients verify and develop optimized content for their Google Places page that has worked to achieve better rankings for local search. If you haven’t done so yet, verify your Google Places page. Remember to be consistent. Stick to your optimization plan!
In Part 4 of the Local Marketing Online series I will explain the inter-relationship between Search and Social Media and how you can improve your rankings by building and managing your authority score for the search terms corresponding to what you offer.
Read the Series:
Local Marketing Online: Part 1: Intro
Local Marketing Online: Part 2: Web & Map Listings
Local Marketing Online: Part 3: Google Place
Local Marketing Online: Part 4: Search & Social Media
Local Marketing Online: Part 5: City Sites, Reviews & Recommendations
Local Marketing Online: Part 6: Share Content
Local Marketing Online: Part 7: Email Marketing
Local Marketing Online: Part 8: Pay Per Click Integration
Local Marketing Online: Part 9: Mobile Marketing
Local Marketing Online: Part 10: Optimized Web Design