Do you have a brick-and-mortar business that you’re trying to promote online?
If so, you could be missing out on a lot of online traffic if you haven’t taken advantage of all the benefits Google Places offers for local business.
If you’re new to Google Places, here are a few tips that will help you set up an optimized profile and set you and the right track for local search success.
Why Google Places is Important
Google Places pages aren’t just for Google Maps searches any more. Google now integrates local “Places” search results for a lot of local keyword search queries, especially those with a lot of search volumes. Instead of the traditional layout of 10 organic listings per page, Google now either inserts a section of local results near the top of the page, or sometimes even incorporates a local listing with an organic listing.
These listings have prime positioning near the top of the page, but they also provide an extra visual element with star ratings and at-a-glance contact info. Even if your website is ranking well organically, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be included in these local listing, as Google uses a slightly different algorithm for its local Places listings. If you want to boost your local web visibility, keep reading to find out how to set up your profile.
Setting Up Your Page
Setting up a Google Places page isn’t difficult, but you’ll want to follow some best practices to give your profile the best chance for ranking well.
First, you’ll want to check to see if a page has already been created for your business. Any Google user can create a local page for a business, but only the business owner can claim the listing (we’ll cover that next), and fill out the page with information that is “from the owner.”
You can find out if a page for your business already exists by doing a Google search for your business name or even going to the actual Google Places website to check for listings according to your business phone number.
If a page for your business already exists, you’ll have to claim the listing before you can start editing information. If you’re starting with a brand new listing, you’ll fill out all of the information first before you go through the claiming process.
The most important thing you should remember when setting up your page is to fill out as much information as possible. Add photos and videos; fill out a description that is informative but also incorporates keywords, and fill in business hours, payment types, areas served, etc.
When filling in “category” information, make sure you choose existing categories that the system suggests in the drop down list. Making up your own category could prevent your page from showing for relevant listings.
The next most important thing you need to know is that your business name, address, and phone number should be consistent with what is found on your website, and also what is found on other review sites on the internet.
This is referred to in the industry as NAP consistency, and it’s used as part of Google’s algorithm for ranking local places pages. Here are some examples of address variations that you want to avoid:
- 1234 South Yourstreet Suite 103
- 1234 S. Yourstreet Ste. 103
- 1234 S Yourstreet #103
There really isn’t a right or wrong choice for which format to use, but just make sure that the one you choose is used consistently.
Claiming Your Profile
In order for your Places listing to get the “owner verified” checkmark, you’ll need to go through the claiming process to show Google that you really are the business owner. This is also how Google is able to prove that your business has an actual physical location.
To do this, there are a few different options, but all involve acquiring a PIN that you will be able to enter into your Google Places account to verify the listing. Depending on the requirements in your country, Google will either send you a postcard through the mailing system, send an automated phone call to the phone number you listed in the profile, or in some countries, can even send an SMS message that includes your PIN.
After you have received your PIN, you’ll just have to enter it into the Places system when prompted and your listing will be good to go. You can always sign back into your account and update information after you have claimed your listing.
Creating Citations to Optimize Your Profile
Claiming and filling out a complete list is the first step to helping your Places page rank well, but there is another element you’ll to need to focus on to help your listing rank well, too. “Citations” is the term used to refer to anywhere else your business name, address and phone number are found together elsewhere on the internet.
You can think of these citations as being similar to how building links is beneficial for SEO. The more citations on the internet that refer to your business, the better chance it has at ranking. You’ll want to find other directly listing sites around the internet, whether national or local, to add your business to. Remember that when you create additional listings, or citations, that you always use NAP consistency like mentioned previously.
Also, don’t forget about customer reviews! They’re an important element to your listing, too. In the beginning, don’t hesitate to just ask some of your happy customers to write a review. You might be surprised at what a great response you get.
As with anything, the best way to learn about something is to actually do it. If you’re ready to create your own Google Places listing for your business, stop by the Google Places home page today and get started. Have any additional thoughts, comments, or questions? Leave them in the comments section below!