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Google Places Page Optimization: Google Local in Review

Google Places, Local SEO | 23 Aug 2011

Google Places Page Optimization

How to Optimize your Google Places Page

Google wants to show its users the most relevant, up-to-date, quality information (including companies) possible. This is its mission and just one reason it is the biggest. As such, when it comes to optimizing your place page, you should keep this in mind.

The following are some simple tips & guidelines to a successful Google Places page optimization. The quick tweaks will improve your chances at securing top positions. Please keep in mind that Google Places is constantly changing, and what works at the time of this post may change dramatically in 30 days. Saying that, I have tried to keep to the things that have remained a constant for some time now.

Company/Organization: DO NOT get fancy here. Thinking you are god’s gift to SEO and stuffing your title with keywords is just going to get you in trouble. There is no point, and in the long run you will only end up wishing you hadn’t. In the past, stuffing the title offered an SEO advantage, but now it is both risky and unnecessary. NOTES:

  • What you place here will eventually be replaced with your home page title tag in the search engine result pages (SERPs). Google will scrape (collect it) and replace it.
  • Local business directories have limitations and will only accept so many characters. If you don’t stuff, this shouldn’t be an issue. Also, many directories won’t accept characters like this one |
  • The title field is being screened for sensitive keywords. If you include any of these you will get banned/reviewed/suspended. First hand these keywords don’t fly in the title: personal injury, criminal, lock, locksmith, DUI

Street Address: Whatever you put in here, must occur everywhere else online. Consistency and accuracy are key. If your business has existed for some time, try and search your own address. Look for the most popular address convention for yourself and go with that one. You would be wise to go back and adjust all those different than what you use in you Google Places page, so make your life easier. NOTE: If you decide to make any changes to you address, Google will very likely request to send you a post card before updating.

City/Town: This is the city that you will have the best chance at ranking in for your keywords.

Main phone: Refer to Street Address.

Website: First, use http://www. you want it to be hyperlinked. Next, and aimed at more advanced users, in my previous post I mentioned that Google Places scrapes (collects) your title tag from your website, and replaces your Google Places title with it. This typically happens when you organic ranking merges with you Google Places ranking. Now imagine you had worked your tail off to achieve a solid organic ranking, and all of a sudden it disappears to join your Google Places ranking. Most times when this occurs your Google Places ranking will be better than your organic one, BUT what if you could have both…two listings on page one perhaps? This extra exposure can be achieved if you use a inner page for your Google Places page URL. For example: Don’t forget to do some organic work for it though, the keyword rich and domain authority will only carry it so far.

Description: I would typically suggest using the same one that occurs in your site meta data (description tag). Consistency. Keyword rich is fine, but don’t make it spammy. Also, consider your click through rate (CTR). Searchers will see this, and decide whether they want to click or not.

Category: Few things to know here:

  • Stay the heck away from city modifiers. That is, your category should be ‘keyword’, NOT ‘cityname keyword.’ Doing the latter will get you in trouble.
  • Google gives you 4 custom categories and one stock. Make good use of them and align them with the keywords you want to rank for. Similar to the Company/Organization field, categories are being screened and the same sensitive keywords apply.
  • Custom categories don’t really have to be too coherent. If you have a lot of keywords you are targeting, try and combine them with other keywords.

Service Area and Location Settings: Pretty self explanatory. It is commonly used if you are using an address outside of the city/cities that you want to rank in OR you want to rank in all your surrounding cities. Use this function to define your service area/areas. NOTE:

  • You aren’t going to rank in San Fran, if you address is in Austin. Obvious I hope. However, if your address is in the suburb of San Fran and you want to rank in San Fran and its surrounding suburbs is very doable.
  • Being outside of the city you want to rank in puts you at a disadvantage. If you are trying to rank for a competitive keyword and you are not located in the city you want to rank in, you could be hooped.
  • Hours & Payment: Just make sure this is consistent with everything else that is published online.

    Photos: Yes, you should add photos. Photos uploaded should be saved as ‘cityname-state-keyword’ and then uploaded. Google also give you the option to “Add a photo from the web.” I like to add a picture from the website. This creates a connection between your Google Places page and your website. This is a good thing. Consider CTR here.

    Videos: Yes, you should add video/videos. I will dive into how important videos are and how to optimize them correctly at a later date.

    Additional Details: This section no longer shows to the outside world…not sure if it is a bug, or something Google has chosen to discontinue. In any event, still worthwhile exercising this area. I use the left column for my keywords and insert shortened URLs of my supporting data, like business directory URLs in the right column. Creating avenues for discovery is important and this is an excellent opportunity to do so.

    Lots of information here – I hope it proves useful and please let me know if you have any questions.

    Related posts:

    1. On-site Optimization: Google Local in Review
    2. Places Optimization: The Ins and Outs
    3. Google Local in Review: A Series
    4. Goodbye, Farewell Google Places Phone Verification…
    5. Tips to Rank in Google Places


  • Peggy Hurd

    I have found several things from your article to use to improve my google places listings. I am curious about the “additional details” part. Is there any indication this will be dropped or does it really matter what we do with it if it’s hidden? Does google still read it?

    • Adam SteeleAdam Steele

      Hi Peggy! I am happy to hear you found something useful. Re additional details, from an optimization standpoint I have heard good arguments for both sides. I think Google banished it because guys like myself were using it to interconnect our local seo supporting data (citations, maps, etc.). While it lasted it was a fantastic way to increase the rate at which Google would discover (crawl) your supporting data. Increased discovery and indexing attributed to faster ranking. Today I don’t bother. I have not seen any benefit since Google hid it.

      Received your email by the way and will send that list over stat.

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