Saturday, August 20, 2011

Optimizing For Google Places Page

As increasing number of searches have local intent behind them, Google is showing Places listings in many more SERPs. This presents an opportunity to either gain a spot on the first page for many businesses or to gain more space on the first page for companies already ranking on the first page.

Five things that hav impact on rankings in Google Places.
As with traditional SEO, having your keywords in the right places is important for ranking while stuffing keywords in the wrong places will make you look like a spammer.
Avoid placing your keywords in the business name (unless the keyword is part of your business name) and the business categories. Both of these will bring the wrath of Google upon you and end up with your Places page removed. Do make an effort to strategically use your keywords in your description. Don't keyword stuff, but word your description carefully and use your primary keyword phrases.

Service Area
Specifying a service area is a great idea for many businesses that come to you such as tutors, maids, and handymen. If you are unfamiliar with the service area option, it is simply being able to set an area that your business serves rather than specifying an address for your company; it will show up on the map as a circle rather than a pinpoint. The problem is that we have seen a decrease in rankings when businesses have selected to display a service area rather than their business location. So, for now, stay away from the service area feature.

There are several fields to fill out when creating or editing and some of them may not seem like they are really necessary. Google wants to give users the best experience possible; in most circumstances the user will have a better experience if there is more information present on the Places page. This means not only filling out the required text fields but also the optional ones:
• Website
• Email address
• Description
• Categories
You should make sure the hours are accurate, that you have filled out additional details, as well as uploading photos and videos of your business. While these may seem auxiliary, they all count towards profile completeness and should be submitted. When filling out your profile, be as thorough as possible, doing much more than the minimum required.

Encouraging Reviews
Reviews are one of the best ways to increase your local search rankings but good reviews can be difficult to come by as it seems the only folks motivated to write up a review feel they have been treated unfairly.
You might try some of the following:

• Send a message to your Facebook fans or email list and ask them to leave a review at your Google Place page
• If you send out follow up, or reminder, post cards incorporate a call to action to review your business
• Put a call to action (and link) asking for a review on your web site
• Display a sign by your cash register or hand them a flier with their receipt asking for a review
Make sure to make the process as easy as possible, provide a link to your Places page and give detailed instructions on what they need to do leave a review.

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