Put your company firmly on the map with these advanced Google Places tips.
Following up on our Google Places Page Optimization article, here are five Google Places tips to enhance your page and boost its Search Engine ranking. Place Pages were launched in late 2009 and with the introduction of Places Search late 2010, Place Pages merged with organic listings on results pages (often referred to as “blended results”). Refreshing and monitoring your page as well as keeping up with algorithm changes are ongoing tasks for online marketing teams.
Google Places Tips #1: Apply for Google Business Photos
Google Business Photos is a pilot program introduced by Google that is only available in certain regions like the USA and Australia. Google ‘Trusted Photographers’ take high-quality still photographs of your premises that are made into panoramic images. When potential customers search for businesses such as yours on the internet, they will see images displayed on the search engine results pages*. The advantages of this include:
- The high-quality images give customers a better sense of the layout, decor and style of your business interior.
- The images are published on Google Place pages, Google Maps and other Google properties.
- Using easy-to-use html snippets or Maps APIs, you can also link to these images from your own business website.
Google Places Tips #2: Encourage more reviews
When a Place Pages listing appears, you may have noticed that there is a star rating and the number of reviews available. Google Places reviews** are seen as a strong signal in Google’s local search algorithms. Encourage your customers to review and rate your business. When you have at least five reviews, you will start to see stars on your page. Remember to monitor reviews as part of your online reputation management strategy.
Google Places Tips #3: Build your citations
Citations are web references that include your name, address and phone number (NAP). They do not need to include a link back to your website. Google see citations as a validation that your website is an important part of the online community. It is important to keep your NAP consistent across the web and a local number is preferable. Places across the web to source citations could include:
- Trusted local and industry-related directories.
- Local chamber of commerce or local business associations.
- Customers/clients/suppliers/external stakeholders’ websites.
- Local bloggers/review websites and forums.
- Social media sites.
Debate reigns over whether citations are still relevant for local SEO. Google revamped Places Pages in July 2011 and removed citations from the search results but local search experts such as David Mihm and Andrew Beckman believed citations are still key for Search Engine ranking algorithms. Andrew discussed citations on the panel for the Local Myth Busters – Local Optimization Facts Proven or Debunked talk at SES New York 2012.
Google Places Tips #4: Optimize images and videos
Local Splash, also represented on the Local Myth Busters – Local Optimization Facts Proven or Debunked panel by Steve Yeich, has put together a page on optimizing images for Google Place Pages. You can optimize images by adding keywords to your filename as well as adding your categories and keywords to the ‘Summary’ tab of the ‘Properties’ box of the image. See the screenshot below from the Local Splash website.
Google Places Tips #5: Maintain your account
You should visit your Google Places Pages regularly to monitor reviews as well as keep your content refreshed and current. You can update your page with images, videos, sales brochures, menus, special offers and other material to keep your page interesting and relevant for your customers. In addition, review your categories, description and other content to ensure they are optimized for the correct categories and keywords.
To keep in touch with updates, exchange advice, ask questions and troubleshoot issues for Google Place Pages and other business products, visit the Google and Your Business forum. The SEO Works blog also features more Google Places tips and guides and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To find out more about our SEO Google Maps – Places Packages and boost your Google Places Page on the SERPS, contact us today.
*Search Engine Results Pages
**Only people with a Google account can add a review to a Google Places Page as of the 21st July 2011.