To get a Google Places ranking is really very easy and needn’t take much time; so it’s another tool in your SEO “kit bag” that can help make a difference.

Just in case you’re not familiar with Google Places, this is the system whereby your business is identified on maps that Google serves in search results – you know, the maps with the red pins labeling locations?

Most businesses are NOT using Google Places correctly and therefore it’s easy to gain an immediate advantage over your competition and this brief guide shows you how.

  • Claim Your Listing

It’s easy to claim your listing for free here. Simply fill in your business details and wait till Google sends you a PIN number through the mail so you can verify that you are the owner of that business.

  • Set Up All The Details Correctly

Go through and list all your details correctly and consistently, including address and service area (if applicable – online businesses may have no specific service area.)

You can add little features like coupons to encourage visitors to come to your business; for example 20% discount on particular items if they visit your business before the end of the month. Whether they affect your rankings is not clear though.

  • Gather Reviews

To give your business more online legitimacy and relevancy, encourage reviews from customers; ask them to post in your Google Places reviews section.

  • Gather Google Places Citations

Claiming your listing is the first step in Google Places ranking.

Citations are to Google Places what back-links are to off-page SEO. They give you credibility and authority and position your business as the place to go in your market.

Citations are web listings of your business name, address and any other contact details exactly as they are listed on your website and on Google Places. That’s why consistency is so important – so that you get credit for every citation.

These may be listings in directories such as Yellow Pages or Trip Advisor and there are some smart ways to build them and get ahead of your competition, because few businesses are using them to their full potential.

There is a website called Whitespark that allows you to analyse what the leading websites in your field are doing and to reverse engineer it.

It will list the top 7 websites in your field for their Google Places ranking and you are able to view all their citation sources and identify which of the sources are most commonly used. This information tells you the places to start approaching for citations because there’s usually no reason why you can’t be listed there if other similar websites have been listed already.

  • All Businesses?

As you go about optimising and building your Google Places listing it should help you with local search rankings.

It’s especially important for a business with a physical store to be listed here; even if your business is conducted entirely online you can use your listed business address as it gives you another way of appearing in search engine results – and, as we keep stressing, variety is the name of the game with your SEO strategy.

You can learn more about a varied SEO strategy by watching the Competition Crusher workshop by clicking here. It’s free to watch and contains great advice for any start-up online business.

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