While searching for local businesses on Google, you’ve surely noticed the local business listings and accompanying map at the top of the results page. These listings are from local businesses have taken their position on Google places, which in many case are listed even above the other organic listings (prime SERP real estate!). We surely cannot overemphasize the benefits that businesses get from these listings, and the loads of traffic that the unlisted businesses are missing out on. That is why every serious business should claim its position on Google Places. As a matter of fact, to set up your listing, you simply need to go to http://www.google.com/places/ and fill out the details of your business. However, doing only this may not get you to a coveted position on the first page of Google search results.
So, here are 6 important steps of Google Places optimization that you should follow to get your business on the first page.
1) Ensure is that you have a complete listing- There are several fields that you will be required to fill when listing your business on Google maps. If you really want the most out of the listing, do not leave any of the fields empty. Remember that you are in a competition with other businesses. Picture this out; several other businesses similar to yours have also claimed their position. In such a scenario, wouldn’t Google crawlers give preference to the business that has a video to that that does not?
2) Use keywords- If your business name contains target keywords, that’s an instant plus. Most importantly, you should ensure that you include one or two keywords in the business description. Of course you should keep in mind that excessive use of the keyword may harm rather than benefit you.
3) Take advantage of categories- When creating the listing, Google requires that you choose categories from a list of suggestion, for your business. Take advantage of this to help your Google places optimization by picking specific categories that describe your business well. The good thing is that you can pick up to five categories. Think of what people search for when looking for your business, such as “Mexican restaurant” or “car dealership” and choose these categories for your business. The first 3 categories are most important. Another tip is to see what categories your top rated competitors have selected, as well.
4) Build local links- Links from local resources such as the Yellow Pages, the Chamber of Commerce, local business directories and bloggers provide even more authority to your listing.
5) Get reviews and comment on them- you may notice that some listings have stars under them. Your average star review rating will not appear in results until you get at least 5 Google reviews. Stars improve the CTR of your listing in search results. Providing comments in response to your customer reviews build engagement and interest about your business.
6) Video and photo sharing- One technique of link building that many successful businesses are utilizing is the use of video and photo sharing platforms. The secret here is to include your business’s physical location and keyword in the title of your video and the name, address, website url and phone number of your business in its description. Google allows you to upload 10 pictures directly to your Google Places page. To get even more pictures to show up, you can upload them to websites like Flickr, InsiderPages and CitySearch. That will allow you to tag the photos with your business’s physical location and keywords. You can then use the tagged photos on your Google Places listing by using the “Add a photo from the web” option. Additionally, getting customers to post pictures through Google will allow you to showcase even more photos and show potential customers that your customers care about you (so your business may be worth checking out)!
Once you have your listing complete and submitted to Google, make sure you verify your listing. It can take up to 2 weeks for Google to verify your listing. Optimizing your Google Places listing provides your business with maximum exposure for minimum cost. By minimum cost, we mean it’s FREE so be sure to take advantage!