Did you know that 1 in 5 searches on Google are related to location? That means there are about 400 million searches daily by people looking for something local. So, it’s critical to make sure your business can get discovered by local consumers online.
A very important part of this process is to have a claimed, optimized Google Places page for your local business. So, once you’ve claimed your local listing on Google, what can you do to make sure it is SEO-friendly? In part one this series, we’ll cover how to optimize your basic information in your Google Places listing, and in part two, we’ll look how to get the most out of images, videos, and reviews.
The Basic Information
Optimizing your listing starts with perfecting the basics. It’s important to have accurate, consistent information about your business listed on Google. Before you claim your listing, Google could pull that data to create a listing for your business from a third-party site, which could have inaccurate information. Plus, how you complete this “basic information” about your business will have a big impact on SEO for the page. So be mindful as you set up the basic business information in your listing.
1) Name Check – First, make sure that your Google Places page is using your actual business name to be in compliance with Google, which states that you should “Represent your business exactly as it in the offline world.” You shouldn’t include taglines, phone numbers, URLs, or other words that aren’t in your official business name in the business name portion of your listing. Find our more by reading Google Places’ Quality Guidelines.
2) Include Accurate Location Information – Next, you want to make sure that you list accurate information for your business details, starting with the business’s physical address. You can’t use a P.O. Box for a Google Places listing, and you should make sure that you use your actual, specific business address, rather than just a city name or cross streets. Also make sure not to create more than one business listing for a single location. You can specify a service area for your business if it serves more than one area, for example: a plumber that has a central office but services various locations.
3) Use an Accurate Business Phone Number – You should list a local phone number and avoid using a call center phone number for your Google Places listing. Make sure the phone number you use here is accurate and up-to-date, includes an area code, and is punctuated just like your phone number appears on your website. With details like your phone number and address, it’s critical to be consistent across your web presence, including other listings and sites, so pay careful attention to all the details. Here’s a checklist of the details to be consistent with in your local listings.
4) Use Your Business Web Site – You don’t have to have a business website to list on Google Places, but your web presence is an important factor for making sure your listing gets ranked. Google notes that you should use a URL to an actual website rather than a URL that redirects people to a landing page.
5) Strategically Select Your Categories – Select five categories for your business listing, either using pre-defined categories by Google (which means that they are generating map results around these keywords in local markets) or by creative categories you can define. For your first keyword, select the one that is the best fit for your business based on what Google defines in the dropdown menus for categories. The order you list your categories in is important, and the first category indicates that you want to rank highly for that category. For the additional four categories, you can use categories that Google defines, or create your own, or a combination of both. To see if your creative categories may get picked up in local maps, search for that category and another business metro area together to see if Google local search pulls up a map in the search engine results page for that word. If it does, there’s a good chance Google will create a map for that category keyword in your area too. If not, better to stick to a category that Google will recognize by selecting one that shows up when you search from the Google Places account setup process.
6) Write Your Description for Search Engines and People to Read – One of the most important elements that will affect the SEO of your Google Places listing is its description . You have only 200 characters to write this, so make sure it includes a few important keywords: business keywords, location keywords, and product or service keywords. But don’t just list your keywords in this section, because this description is also how potential customers will decide whether or not your business meets their needs. So, make sure your description is written for humans but contains important keywords for Google to strike the right balance.
By making sure this basic information is accurate and strategically created, you can help optimize your Google places page to get discovered by local consumers. In the next part of this series, we will focus on how to use the additional features of your Google places page, like reviews, images, and videos, to optimize your listing.
Stay tuned for part two!