SEO Article Posted by Internet Marketing Speaker on 25-03-2011
Many clients have been asking me how they get on the top of a local search result-specifically Google places. This is coming up more frequently because they have done their SEO efforts but still may find their competitors ahead of them via Google places-what gives?
Matt McGee wrote an insightful post on this matter called 10 Likely Elements of Google’s Local Search Algorithm and with all things Google the target always is moving. I’ve had some interesting conversations with my Google representative, she sells the Google boost ads and is very familiar with Google places, so here goes:
1. Your address. According to Matt: If you want to rank for keywords related to a particular city, you better be located in that city. He also points out an exception and I’m going to mention a few more. I have a client whose address is Englewood, Colorado but his service area is much larger. One of the areas that he wanted to show up in is Tree Service Greenwood Village, CO. He is now showing in Google places even without a location in Greenwood Village. He shows there because my rep told me to include this city in the “Description” section of places. Sure enough, as soon as I added Greenwood Village he showed up. This however, is just one factor.
2. Your Business Categories. Google gives you limited options on categories and if you choose a phrase that does not come up, you get a message saying you have selected a “custom category” not sure of the ramifications of this yet.
3. Keyword in Business Name. Matt ranks this as very high and from my own experience I too think this can be very critical.
4. Citation Quantity. Important! According to Matt: Google relies heavily on citations, mentions of your business elsewhere on the web. This validates your business name, address and phone information. He also gives an excellent resource article called Why Citations are Important to Your local Business Listings.
5. Completing Your Business Profile/Place Page. The more thorough the better, remember Google is directing more users to Place Pages, so according to Matt: it’s logical that pages with a lot of good information would rank higher. This is also confirmed by my sales rep. However, I recently acquired a SEO client who was the first on a Google Places listing and she had not claimed that listing-we took care of that immediately.
6. Business Data Consistency. Matt points out that your business name, address and phone number need to be consistent. My client actually had three different business names that Google had picked up and consequently in the top 7 place pages she had two listings. This can cause confusion so be consistent!
7. Reviews and Ratings. Reviews and ratings (positive) gives Google more confidence to recommend a local business-I would pay more attention than ever to this aspect. My Google sales rep even encouraged my client to have a laptop handy and after the service (she does waxing) ask the satisfied client to write a Google review. You may even want to offer to give them $5 or $10 dollars off their service for them taking the time to do so. Based on many conversations with my rep I would rank this as more critical than ever-Get Reviews from your clients!!! Have them go to Google Hotpot to write their reviews.
8. Proximity to Location. Matt says:
proximity to city center is much less important than proximity to the location being searched. Interestingly, when I was asking my rep about specific cities my client would like to show up in; she asked me the approximate miles from his business location to the desired city. She was a little vague on how far away someone could be and still show up in the desired city 😉
9. My Maps and Other User content/Data. Matt points out that at the very bottom of a Place Page, Google shows the user-generated content associated with a business. He believes this is becoming a more important signal in part thanks to what seems to be more people using My Maps. Don’t forget geotagged photos of your business.
10. Certain Traditional SEO Factors. Matt feels that most traditional SEO factors don’t play a huge role in Place rankings. He feels that some SEO related elements do come into play and mentioned the age of the domain associated with the business and domains that have keywords in them. I think he is right on with these observations and my Google rep specifically mentioned that the age of the domain name associated with the business can be important!
Matt also points readers to a very good Google video called Google Places Moderator: Ranking The major take aways from the video include: Location, Relevance and Prominence.
Whether you like it or not, you may as well go to Google Places and claim your business and do the work mentioned above!