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Small Business Guide to Optimizing Your Google Places Listing

November 17, 2011 · 6 comments

in Internet Marketing

For a local business owner trying to do more business on the web, ranking in Google Places is the best – and most cost-effective – way of marketing your business on the internet. In this article, I’ll lead you step by step through the best practices for fully optimizing your Google Place Page, so that your customers can find your business when they search for it in Google.

To follow along, please open up your Google Place Page which can be found in your gmail account. Click on the downward arrow next to your name, click “Account Settings >> Google Places >> Add Business” and find your Place Page.

Optimizing Your Business Name

I’ve seen businesses try to “game” the system, by stuffing keywords and phone numbers into their business name field. Doing this will not get you anywhere; not only does Google prohibit it – but it may lead to your listing not getting confirmed at all, in which case, it won’t be found by your potential customers.

The best practice here is to list your business name exactly as it appears in the offline world. If you want to legally change your business name, that would be a great way to tailor it for search engines. For example, change your business name from “UFO Pizza” to “UFO Pizza of Portland”, to include your city.

Optimizing Your Business Location

Your business location should be the exact physical address where you do business. Post office boxes are not permitted. It’s important that you are precise – include any suite numbers and get your zip code right. Also, if you abbreviate “street” to “st”, then make sure you are going to abbreviate it in all of your directory listings, too. Google seeks confirmation of who you are and where you are located and the easiest way to prove that is to be consistent in all of your internet listings.

Optimizing Your Service Area

If you are a business that sees customers at their locations, Google Places allows you to set a service area which can be a concentric radius around your physical location, or it can be specific counties or zip codes.

A common challenge for small businesses is “How can I show up in search results for the major city where I do most of my business when my physical business address is outside of that city?”

I recommend not listing your physical address, in order to try ranking for the larger city. However, you might try changing it after a month if you do not see yourself showing up in the larger city.

How To Optimize Your Business Category

You are given 5 category fields with which to inform searchers of what your business is, not what it does or sells. For example, if you are a pizza place, you would list in your categories things like “Pizza Restaurant” or “Caterer”. You would not list what it does, “Pizza Deliveries” or what it sells, “Large Specialty Pizzas”. Try to use categories that Google already recognizes in its list and after you have exhausted those, you can type in some of your own, as long as they apply. Try to complete all 5 fields, if possible.

How To Optimize Your Description

Your description gives you an excellent place to optimize for keywords you want to rank for. I like to follow this format to write a sentence:

Areas you serve (keyword city)
what you do (keyword 1)
unique selling proposition what you do (keyword 2)
additional keywords.

For example:

Areas you serve (keyword city) – Buffalo, NY
what you do (keyword 1) – home inspector
unique selling proposition including what you do (keyword 2) – 20 years experience providing professional home inspections
additional keywords – radon testing, mold testing, and asbestos testing

The completed description looks like this:

Buffalo, NY home inspector with 20 years experience providing professional home inspections, radon testing, mold testing, and asbestos testing.

How To Optimize Additional Details

Get creative with your additional details in order to enable your target keywords. Give your customers a lot of substance about your business, so they choose you over a competitor. I like to list my keyword (product or service) on the left hand column, with my value or benefit statement on the right. For example:

Experienced Home Inspector: I have 20 years of hands-on experience
Radon Testing: I perform complete radon testing to make sure your home is safe
Home Inspection Testimonials: (Include hyperlink to testimonials page on your website)

How To Optimize Your Pictures and Videos

You get the chance to display 10 pictures and 5 Youtube videos. Use them all!

For pictures, make sure you choose great looking square photos. Rename your photos to match the keywords you want to rank for. You can do this by right-clicking on your photo and choosing “Properties” and then choose “Summary”. This gives your photo a chance to be found in Google for your target keyword, leading them right back to your website.

For videos, if you do not have your own, look on Youtube to find unbranded videos that fit your business niche and use those URLs. A better solution is to create your own :45 second videos, load them up to your own Youtube Channel, and optimize each video. You can do this by naming the video the keyword you want to rank for and include it again in the description of the video and the tags. Be sure to include your website in the description, too. If you need an inexpensive video marketing service, you can find one here.

How To Move Your Site Up in Search Results

Once you have fully optimized your Google Places listing, there are things you can do to build the strength of your site, so that it becomes the #1 site in Google for your targeted keywords. Quality directory submissions, social media, and a diverse backlink campaign are all excellent ways to build the authority of your site, so that you become competition proof.


Written by Mike Munter

Mike Munter is a small business SEO specialist, working exclusively with small business owners to help them get more customers using internet marketing. He provides affordable video marketing servicesto help small business owners rank higher in Google Places and drive traffic to their website. He lives in Portand, Oregon.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Fatima Hipolito November 19, 2011 at 6:39 am

This is great Info, And to be honest admin I’ve got something Idea about this one. thanks for sharing I appreciate this..
Fatima Hipolito recently posted..חנוכהMy Profile


Nyagoslav November 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Wow, some awesome info here, Mike!

I especially liked the part with the description and pictures optimization. Really creative!
Nyagoslav recently posted..Improved Google Places SupportMy Profile


Chris Gregory November 23, 2011 at 3:21 am

I would add to not use the category names in your description or even the city. I know it’s only an opinion and we all have one,but it might look a little stuffed to Google. Try using synonyms where possible. Looks less baked IMO.
Chris Gregory recently posted..Goodbye Red Pins, Hello Yellow ReviewsMy Profile


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