For those of you not familiar with using Google Places, it allows business owners to submit their business listing to display in Google Maps, in addition to a variety of other places. More importantly, your business can also appear in organic search results on Google if it is the type of business that normally has brick and mortar locations as well, like a restaurant or dry cleaner. In this case, I’ll use the search for a dentist as our example.
If we look at the left hand search results shown, you can see that a search for “dentist Burlington, MA” yields a map with 7 local business listings, also known as the 7 pack, before displaying organic results below. Obviously this search phrase is fairly specific, and might not be as common as some more generic searches. Looking at the search results shown on the right however, you can see that even a search for the term “dentist” yields the local business results and map too, which shows how important it is to have your business in these results.
So how do you get your business listed and improve its ranking in Google Places? The first thing you must do is verify your business if it already exists or add your business if it does not yet exist. This can be done by going to http://www.google.com/places (please tune in to this week’s Wildcard Friday to learn more about creating and verifying an account in Google Places).
Once verified, you should complete your business profile, adding as much useful content as possible. Examples of useful content should include your store location, contact information, website address, business hours, and especially the categories the business falls under so it is easy for people to find you. For our example of the dentist, they would want to be under the Health and Professionals category and then include subcategories like dentist, family dentist, and cosmetic dentist. Businesses should add as many of these categories as possible, so long as they are relevant.
After completing your profile, you should begin to add your business to other relevant directories such as local and industry directories. Some great general directories to add your business to include yellowpages.com, citysearch.com, and Yelp!. By adding your business to these directories, it not only help give your business greater visibility on the web, but it will verify the location and contact information you’ve listed on Google Places, which can help boost your ranking in Places.
The final suggestion and probably most important one I can make is to ask your customers for reviews. By having customer reviews, it will help add additional content to your profile and can help boost your ranking too. In addition, if your business is listed in other directories that allow reviews, Google will pull in those reviews on top of what you have already in Google Places. For example, a pizza place might have 3 reviews on Google Places, 12 reviews on Yelp!, and 6 reviews on CitySearch, all of which will be pulled into your profile.
The one caution I would advise business owners here is to not create fake reviews as it can appear quite evident to potential customers and to Google. Also, as you ask customers for reviews, try to spread them out so you don’t have one week with 17 reviews and then no reviews for the next three months. By asking for reviews on a consistent basis, your popularity should continue to improve and you won’t appear to search engines and customers as being spammy.
That’s all for today’s Daily Concept and I hope you’ve found it helpful for your local business! Once you’ve been optimized for Google Places, your next step as a business owner should be to begin improving the organic rankings for your site in addition to your Google Places listing. This can be done through the Advanced SEO services offered by Exclusive Concepts.
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