The Red Balloon: Anatomy of an Optimized Google Places Listing
The importance of an optimized Google Places listing is a vital piece of your overall SEO campaign. For many businesses, capturing the local traffic will greatly increase their leads, conversions and revenue. Since the Google Places update that brought along the blended search results of Places listings integrated into organic SERPs, Google has continued to refine and reject listings that it feels do not fall within the proper guidelines. If your listing has been dinged for spam or needs some sprucing up, here are a few guidelines you should follow when setting up or re-optimizing your Google Places listing.
-Categories: Your categories should not contain any type of geo-information such as city or state information. The categories can a place where you may want to stray into trying to fit your keyword terms but resist the urge. Your listing will likely get flagged for spamming the categories section. Instead select the categories from Google that are the best fit for your business. If necessary, create your own descriptive custom category but be cautious with your keyword usage here.
-Business Name: Real Name no geo-terms or keywords stuffed into the title. Your Places title should be the same name that your business is known as in the real world. Do not add additional terms to help yourself rank higher-your listing is very unlikely to be published. Keep your business name the same through all of your listings.
EX. If your website’s Title Tag says [Happy Insurance Company], Your Places listing should say [Happy Insurance Company], not [Happy Insurance Agency] or [Happy Insurance Co.]. Uniform, matching data is very important to Google.
-Street Address: This should be an actual brick and mortar location, no PO boxes. If you have more than one location there should be individual logins for each address with a separate login. Contact information should match across all listings and citation sites and the information should be crawlable on your website. The crawlable data should match with the listing information on your Google Places listing.
-Local Phone Number: When searching for a local business, many people want to have a local contact phone number to call, not an 800 number. Like your address, your phone number should be crawlable on your website to allow Google to match up your listing information and your website.
-Local Area Code on Place Page: Same as the address and phone number, the zip code of your business will have a lot to do with your agency appearing in Places SERPs for a given locale. It is not impossible, but more difficult, to target a city that is out of your area code without a local link building strategy.
-Inbound links and Page Authority of your website: The amount of inbound links and page authority of your site also plays a role in how your Google Places listing ranks. A site appears to be more relevant and popular when it has many backlinks and will likely rank ahead of a brand new site with very few links. A technique that works really well to improve your backlink profile is to actively blog and build links pointed back to your product pages.
To begin to rank you need understand that Google looks at your local listing and wants to match up the information from your site to your Google places page. If your information is all correct, the listing is more likely to appear in search engine results. When you have confusing or misleading information, Google will definitely be less likely to publish your Places listing near the top of the page or even display it in SERPs at all.