Consider this rant a wake-up call to all those local businesses who are sitting back while they sabotage themselves and their business every day because they do not have a Google Places page. Sabotage-yes. You are allowing your competitors to scoop up local business every single day in your area. It really is not much different than picking up your phone and referring your competitors. Sounds silly right? It is.
So what can you do? Hire an SEO agency to rank you? What if you can’t afford those big fancy SEO agency prices? Here are some game changing tips that will help you flex your Google Places SEO muscle, and get a piece of growing 90% of people who look for local services online.
Tips to Rank in Google Places
1. Create a Google Places Page. Before you do this, go to www.maps.google.com and search your business phone number. Google is crawling the internet for mentions of local businesses all the time and may have already created one for you. If you find one, you have just saved yourself from the nightmare of having two Google Places pages with the same address/phone number. Click on the Google Places page and claim it by clicking ‘Business Owner?’ In most cases Google will want to call you to confirm your identity.
In the event there isn’t an existing Google Places page, it is about time you create one! What are you waiting for? Go to www.google.com/placesforbusiness and login with your gmail account. Don’t have a gmail account for you business? Check out our tutorial on How to create email with your domain name . Once created, Google will send you a post card in the mail. Allow 2 weeks to arrive.
2. Local business directory submissions. Ever heard of Yelp.com? Superpages.com? Citysearch.com? These are local business directories…pretty self-explanatory. They matter because Google will rank you based on how many times you are found in directories like these. Think of it as a popularity contest. Google looks to these sites for mentions of your business. The business that is mentioned the most, is deemed the most popular and receives the best rank. TIPS:
a. Get your customers to leave reviews on these directories for you.
b. Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. The information you submit to these directories should be an exact match to the information on your Google Places page.
c. The more local and business specific the better. If you are a plumber in Miami, the holy grail of a local business directories would be a directory in Miami for plumbers. Keep that in mind.
3. Competitive research – know thy enemy. This is a simple step that most businesses, and even SEO agencies (I know because they ask me to rank their Google Places clients) often miss…and it’s SO OBVIOUS. You are a renovations company in Vancouver, BC Canada…after some careful keyword research using one of these free keyword research tools you have discovered that the phrase ‘home renovations’ when searched in Vancouver yields the greatest local searches. So search it. Next I want you to pull up the Google Places (GP) pages for all of your competitors on the first page (at least 7). If you scroll down to the bottom of their GP page, you will find links to a bunch of places their business has been mentioned. You will want to comb this area for new places to submit your business information to. NOW, do so. The strategy here is to do what your competitors are doing, and then do one better.
4. Indexing your links. Getting a link/url indexed means Google has found it and added it to their search engine. The sooner this happens the sooner your GP page gets the kudos for being so popular and is ranked accordingly. Without doing anything, Google will eventually find your links, especially if they are links on popular sites…but we don’t have all day. That is why the pros use tools called pingers. Without going into too much detail, these tools help bring attention to the link, and expedite the finding process for Google. As a result, you are ranked quicker. So, make sure you submit any and all links you create to a pinger.
TIP: some pingers are better than others…
5. Organic Search Engine Optimization. There is not much to say here other than you need you have some. Simply put, you need links pointing at your website. Not long ago you could get away with not, but this is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The Google Places pages of the future will all have websites attached with good organic SEO.
Although it’s been around for a little while now, Google Places and local SEO as a whole is still a very gray area with lots of mystery surrounding it. In fact, even some of the more seasoned SEOs have a lot of trouble with it…so don’t feel discouraged. You could be doing everything right, but because Google themselves still doesn’t have a Google handle on Google Places, your listing could be getting ignored.
The most important tip to rank in Google Places is to be accurate, consistent and patient. Please feel free to leave any questions you might have behind and we will do our best to answer them.