For local businesses, setting up, maintaining, and optimizing your Google Places account is important for many reasons. One is that Google now displays “merged” listings for local searches, showing both the website and Google Places account for a business in one merged listing. See the example below.
For the businesses in this merged area, there are definite benefits. In addition to the searcher finding their Web URL, they can also see reviews, contact information, and mapped location. This makes such a listing far more attractive to the searcher, leaving the business with higher click-through rates and increased traffic from targeted Google searches.
With that explained, how does a business get into this coveted merged search listing area? For starters, understand that getting into this merged area will largely hinge on how well your website is optimized for search engines like Google, in addition to many local search engine optimization factors, such as the strength of your Google Places account. For more information on the process of SEO, visit our SEO services page, browse the SEO category on our blog, our just contact us for an explanation of how we can deliver world-class SEO services to you and your business.
For the sake of this article, let’s focus on how we can make our Google Places accounts stronger.
Step One – Know Your Keyword Strategy
To begin, you’ll need to know what your keyword strategy is. What keywords to you hope to rank highly for and generate this merged listing on the top of the first page for? Just make sure you don’t guess on this. Determining your keyword strategy is the most important step of this process. You’ll want to base your decision on a combination of relevancy and search volumes. If you don’t know which keywords generate the highest search volumes of Google searches in your market,make sure you try the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Before beginning your research, set “match types” set to exact.
Now that you have the tool setup, start exploring! Do you own a coffee shop in Springfield, Missouri and want to know how many people are looking for a coffee shop in your town? Try plugging in the keyword “coffee springfield mo” and the tool will show you monthly search volumes, in addition to making suggestions for other keywords. Use the tool to generate a list of relevant keywords that provide a reasonable volume of traffic.
Step Two – Owner Verify Your Google Places Account
If you have already done so, move on to step 3. If you have not done so, read this article and follow the steps carefully.
Step Three – Fill Out the Form
The key here is to fill the form out as completely as possible. For the description, try to get your primary keyword in there a couple of times. Also, make an effort to use the 200 characters they give you and make the copy compelling. For categories, don’t go overboard. Just because you can select multiple categories doesn’t mean you should do so. If you are a coffee shop, say so. No need to list that you sell latte’s, espresso, etc. Everybody knows you sell those things if you are a coffee shop.
Step Four – Go the Extra Mile
Step four is where your listing is going to stand out from your competition. Here is a list of things you can do to go the extra mile:
- Add 5 videos to your listing. Google gives you the opportunity to add 5 videos to your listing, an opportunity most (if not all) of your competitors will pass on. Take full advantage of this by creating 5 videos with a simple tool such as Animoto, uploading them to your YouTube channel, and then pasting the links into your Google Places account. It will make your listing more complete, and Google will appreciate that you’ve gone the extra mile with video.
- Add 10 photos to your listing. Same concept here. Google gives you the opportunity to add 10 photos to your listing, and most of your competitors will not take advantage of this. Take your time and Geo-tag your photos for increased local search engine optimization of your account.
- Use the “Additional Details” section of your account to drive traffic to your social profiles. Google Places gives your two columns per additional detail, with the example given of “Parking Available” in the left column and “Yes” in the right. Why not do something like “Find us on Facebook” in the left column and “Insert Facebook URL here” in the right? The possibilities here are endless.
- Solicit reviews. Ask your customers to review your business on Google Places. Having an assortment of reviews will provide you feedback on how you are doing and make it easier for new customers to try you as well (provided your reviews are positive and you are actually doing a good job). Sometimes it can be hard to want to try a new business when there isn’t anybody talking about it or reassuring us that your new product or service is worth trying.
For more information on how you can use your website and/or Google Places account to grow your business, be sure to contact us today for a free consultation.