Optimising Your Google Places

by Wayne Barker February 18th, 2011 

As Google forges ahead with their obsession with localised searches (not that I mind at all) I thought it would be a good time to look at what the recipe is for a well optimised Google Places page. Google Places is often overlooked by both businesses and SEOs, which is a shame because it can pull visitors in for you on its on merit – and more importantly we are now seeing blended results – Google Places and good old SEO combined.

So what are we throwing into the mix today? Essentially we will look at the best practices for creating a great listing – today's post is not about getting citations or local links, we are just looking at what makes a great listing. Businesses that offer location specific products and services can apply all of these tactics themselves in no time…and SEOs can remind themselves to put it on their 'to do' list for clients.

Q. "What does Google want to see?"

A. "Good Solid Information"

1. Basic Google Places Information

Google Places Basic Information

  • Fill in as much basic information as possible – the key thing to remember here is that whatever you put in here (address, telephone number – which SHOULD be local and business name should be consistent across the Internet.
  • Make sure you use your business name and not a location based keyword like "my main keyword – location".

2. Fill in your Times and Description

These jobs take minutes but will help to give you a fully pimped out Google Places listing – take the time to fill them out. Make sure you cover you main services or products in the description – don't turn it into a list of keywords, remember the users!

Google Places - Times and Description

3. Google Places Categories

With the categories you have to play by Google's rules a little bit – you need to choose at least one or two categories that actually exist – trust me it isn't always that easy for niche operators. Start typing and see what Google suggests to you, if you can't see something appropriate start again – you are going to suffer if you don't play the game. If you pick two you will still get the chance to invent three categories based what you actually do.

Google Places Categories

4. The always under-used 'Additional Details'

Not only is the a great way to get some more of services or products or brands or whatever onto the page, it is also a great place to insert some of the keywords pertaining to your site. Most people just don't seem to bother filling this in – stay one step in front of the competition!

Google Places Additional Details

5. Images and Videos

You get the chance to upload 10 images and 5 videos, so you should do so. Make sure you images are geotagged for location and it is a good idea to add them to Panaramio why you are at it. Videos are added to Google Places via YouTube, they don't have to be great – just give people an idea of your business premises and/or what you do. As videos come via YouTube you should make sure that your videos are well optimised for YouTube – you never know they may just help you in that other under-used part of SEO, 'Universal' Search!

Google Places - Images and Videos

6. Please, please, please – check your marker is in the right place!

Local search Optimisation - Marker

7. Know that you have access to the stats that will help you understand if your Google Places page is working.

It always surprises me that people don't know that you have access to the stats that will help you improve your local listing – changing categories can have a massive change on your impressions – and subsequently visits to your site. Google Places can work for you quickly if you set it up correctly and a little tinkering can bring you more traffic.

Google Places - Stats

As I mentioned at the start of the post this is solely about getting a great optimised listing on Google Places. Next you need to be working on your citations, your local links and reviews…but that is another post altogether.

Wayne Barker

I work for Boom Online - an Online Marketing and SEO company based in Nottingham, England.

Boom Online

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9 Responses to “Optimising Your Google Places”

  1. Wayne,

    Thanks for the great article!

    You didn't mention it in your post, but I am curious, how do you recommend getting more data about Google Places traffic in Google Analytics? Early on, I would use a separate domain (URL) to track referrals from the 10 Pack, but this later resulted in deprecation of related info auto-generated by Google.

    Have you tried tagging urls in Places?

  2. Wayne Barker says:

    Hey there Wade,

    Thanks for the great comments! Ah – getting data about Google Places, its a toughie! Manual tagging via the Google URL builder is my suggestion. The best post I have ever seen on this topic is here:
    http://www.seomoz.org/blog/tracking-traffic-from-google-places-in-google-analytics
    I suppose what it comes down to is the size of the client, their reliance on local search, how much you ACTUALLY need to know and finally how much time you have to dedicate to getting the info…

  3. Gemma says:

    The more business that start to use Google places the more important it will be to have a great optimised listing. Yes citations and reviews are important, but without a great listing will users be encouraged to visit your site and purchase your products and services?

  4. Wayne Barker says:

    Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for your comments, you have hit the nail on the head. As Google dedicates more time, thought and resources into Google Places the more important it will become…the more important it becomes, the more businesses pay attention.

  5. [...] It's also important to make sure you Place page is in top condition as you may see more click throughs.  Here's some tips thanks to the Search Engine People: [...]

  6. Sam Beamond says:

    Cool post, points noted, but a couple of questions:

    1. How long after entering your pin does it take to show up in search results
    2. Do older place listings take priority of new?
    3. What determines how much info is displayed on the places page? I have comprehensively filled out ALL the information, but nothing shows under "more details" on the front end.

    Any thoughts?

  7. Frank Kockritz says:

    Most likely at the time your post, Google had not yet implemented certain changes to Place Pages, the most significant is they have eliminated citations altogether. With regard to attribute fields, though they can serve as added content benefit for the user, they seem to have no keyword signal strength for ranking performance.

  8. Mike Deskis says:

    I see that Google allows businesses to categorize themselves, but how via their Web Services API can I extract business by these categories? The API only appears to support the listing of businesses by Google types. Is there a way to get businesses via Category and sub-Category?

  9. Wayne Barker says:

    Hi there Mike,

    The best way to do this is (IMHO) using a tool called Local Search Toolkit (http://www.localsearchtoolkit.com) amongst other data that will bring in information about the categories that your competitors are using and then you can make your decisions accordingly. Its free for a limited number of queries and is pretty awesome, have fun!