Last week I answered what is Google places and talked about how to get on Google places. Now let’s talk Google Places optimization. Just because you’ve submitted your business to Google Places doesn’t mean that you’ll appear with or above the other local businesses in your niche, so there are some Google Places SEO tricks we can employ that your competition may not have to give you that extra boost to put you in the pole position.
Google Places Optimization
The first thing you should do is get a Google Plus page for your business. I did a whole post on how to make a page on Google Plus so I’ll refer you to that. Once you’ve got that set up, link to it via your Google Places account. Just doing that is going to go a long way because Google likes their brands so the more you integrate them with one another, the better ranking they’ll give you. No that’s not the only factor, otherwise Google would be overrun with terrible content from people gaming the system, but it’s a good start.
Encourage your customers to interact with you via Google Plus page to have a vibrant social media presence. The same goes for Facebook and Twitter, but as we’re talking Google Places optimization here your Google Plus presence is more important. The easiest way to have a vibrant social media presence is to offer incentives which can only be found via your social media satellite sites.
Post coupons, discounts, contents, and anything else in exchange for social proof and interaction on your social media sites. Post to your social media sites regularly, adding updates and exciting news about your business, pictures, and the aforementioned incentives to see your social media presence grow.
Also important is to be ridiculously thorough when setting up or editing your Google Places page itself. If you haven’t already, make sure you include specific things like hours of operation and payment methods you accept. The more detailed, the better. Plus, Google loves a thorough description of your business and this will help to place you above the competition.
In the same vein, put up a lot of photos of your business up on your places listing. Most business owners don’t do this or only take a photo of the exterior of their building. Whether people like to see lots of photos of the inside of your business or not, Google thinks people do so this will give you another step above the competition.
Take plenty of photos of the inside of your business, specifically if possible when it’s most bustling and photos of people having a good time. Obviously this won’t apply to all businesses. If it doesn’t apply to you then take photos of your friendly staff or simply plenty of interior shots of the building.
The same goes for video content. Have at least one video, if not multiple, where you give an overview of your business. You can also create videos to highlight the promotions I mentioned earlier, effectively making commercials for your business which you don’t have to pay to air as you can throw them up on your Google Plus page whenever you’ve got a new one to put out there.
Also extremely paramount to your top ranking is that you have reviews, and I don’t think that I need to specify that you want GOOD reviews. Everything else being equal, Google will understandably put a business with a higher review rating above the exact same business with a lower rating, making the better reviewed business more visible. Not only that, but many consumers (this author included) value customer reviews over any other information on a company whether it be restaurant, service, or even retail related.
Faking reviews can land you in hot water if it ever comes out, but you can encourage your friends and family to leave sparkling reviews of your business, at least when you’re just getting your Google Places account off the ground. If you do a quick search for anything local in your city, most times you’ll find that the majority of the businesses in the local listings only have a small handful of reviews, so it really doesn’t take much to outperform and look better than your peers in this regard.
Don’t stick to Google for reviews; there are plenty of other popular and high trafficked sites where good reviews can help boost your rankings or just bring in a lot of extra traffic from people checking those sites such as Yelp, Zagat, or Angie’s List.
Everything I’ve said so far more or less relates exclusively to your Google Places optimization, but arguably the best Google Places SEO for getting the top spot in a local listings block is the same SEO you’d use to get your website itself to rank well in the basic SERPs.
The better your website ranks outside of the local listings, the better it will rank in the local listings, and remember that you can rank and rank well simultaneously in and out of the local listings in the SERPs, giving you ample incentive to work to get your site at the top of both the local listings and the basic SERPs to get as much exposure and attention atop the SERPs where it matters as possible.