Optimizing Google Places

google places optimization

If you haven’t looked at your Google Places page lately, now is the time to do it.  With local mobile searches on the rise, it’s one of the best ways to be found.  We’ve rounded up the most important factors you need to review and get into shape.

Address Consistency

The first thing to check is your business address.  Google is looking for consistency so use the same format everywhere – on Google, Bing, social networks, in business directories, on your website or blog and sites like FourSquare or Yelp.

Here’s a guide to the most authoritative sites that your business may (or should) be listed on.  It may mean multiple registrations if you need to make changes, but this one is key for other signals Google uses to determine the authenticity of your business.

Citations

It’s always about links with Google and Places is no different.  That address you provided?  Google scours the web looking for it on other sites one of the reasons you need to make sure that the address listed on these sites is consistent with your Google Places account.  Think Chamber of Commerce sites, professional organizations, school or universities, local business directories or parent company sites.  If you’re drawing a blank for citations, take a look at your competitor’s citations and list your site on those if you can.

Category

You’re allowed to place your business in up to 5 categories.  The first should be the category you’d most like to appear for and additional selections should support that selection.  Study this Google Places category list carefully before making your choices.  Take a look at competitors’ categories, too.  See how they place for searches to determine how effective they are before using them for your business.

Your Service Area

Since users often search for a business in a specific area, first priority is given to businesses located in that city when it comes to search results.  That’s fine for brick and mortar shops or restaurants but if you’re offering a service, you may want your business to appear in searches for locations outside of your office city.

In your Google Places click to edit your address then select the option “this business serves customers at their location.”  Then choose a mileage radius or add zip codes for the areas you cover.  If you NEVER serve customers at your office location (e.g., you work at home) then you can hide your address (select Do not show…).  SEO pros say that hiding is not detrimental to search results and in fact, gives Google a better idea of your business model.

If you’re making changes to an existing account, it will take a while for any changes you make to kick in.  And while it’s no guarantee of top placement, you should see improved results for local searches.

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