Before I get into the tips, I should probably first give a little primer on Google Places and why you might care about it. Google Places is a database of local business information that is used by Google in a large number of ways. If you have a brick and mortar store or a public place for business information and you’re interested in being found when people search for you from their computer or phone, you should pay attention. The Google Places database is a very important asset for Google and the date in it is being leveraged more and more in search results. This trend will surely continue as the mobile web becomes a bigger slice of the internet pie.
If you are a web only company with no public place of business, you can ignore this post
5 Tips for Getting the Most out of Google Places
1.) Create a listing
Google Places listings are free and creating one is generally not difficult. Google does a good job at the main Google Places page helping business owners getting started.
Beyond simply helping you to create a listing (claim your listing if it already exists), Google gives specific tips on how to create a good listing.
2) Tweak your listing
Google maps listings (where Google Places live) are similar to Google search in that there is an algorithm for determining which listing to show. How does it work? Good question. As you can imagine, it’s just like the standard Google Search Ranking algorithm: It is not perfectly clear, there are many opinions and it’s complicated. However, like the rest of SEO, there are “best practices” that should be followed regardless of how much you are willing to invest in optimization. Important factors are the completeness of your listing and the words in the content you provide. Add keywords to your company description and business categories that would be used by prospective searchers.
For in depth look at Google Places optimization you can also refer to this excellent post at DavidMihm.com. If you want some help, contact us.
3.) Encourage your happy customers to leave reviews!
Google reviews have become more important recently and I suspect that reviews will continue to grow in importance – perhaps integrating with Google Plus at some point in the future.
How do you encourage customers to leave reviews? Make it a habit to ask. I am a big believer in investing in customer feedback in the eCommerce environment. I think it’s important for companies to get good at getting feedback back from customers. Are you asking for that feedback? Are you responding to good feedback with a follow up request for the customer to tell others (via a review on your site or throught their social network)?
4.) Buy advertising
This might not be for everyone, but if local search is important to you you might want to pursue promoting your listing either with Adwords Location Extensions or with Google Adwords Express campaign. With geotargeting and device targeting, you could land very local searchers searching from mobile devices on your Google Places page rather than your website.
5.) Create an Offer
Google Places has an option to create Places Offers for your listing. Offers allow you to provide show special coupons in your listing. Places visitors can access these, i.e from their mobile phone.
There is also a new offer format called Mobile Check-In Offers. Here’s how Google describes in on the Places Help site “When users for businesses using Google for mobile devices, they’ll be able to access your Google Places Offer on their phone. “
For more info check out the Mobile Check In Offers page.
Thanks for the emails and please keep them coming. Let me know what traction you’re getting from Google Places and feel free to ask any questions you have.
Note on KPIs: If you know Timberline, you know that we are Google Analytics wonks. However, the tracking of Google Places traffic in Analytics did not make the 5 tips above. The reason? It’s just a little too complicated to “do it right” (in quotes because the definition of “right” will vary from company to company). However, if you are interested in the details, give us a call. Also, here is a very helpful post by Rebecca Lehmann that outlines the options.