TaylorLovett

Google Places is Critical to Search Engine Visibility

January 15, 2011 by Taylor Lovett

Hey Taylor L, I just wanted to let you know about something that someone of the SEO Pro’s have been chatting about lately.

Google Places is CRITICAL to search engine visibility. Google has begun to show an incredible number of Local-related results for nonspecific search phrases.

Google Places allows you to submit your business information (name, address, URL, basic service description). After submission, your website will show up under local Google Places results. Lets use the web development market as an example. Since TaylorLovett.com is listed in Google Places as a web development business in Maryland, it shows up higher under local searches for “web development” within Maryland. That means my website has an advantage with people searching for web development within Maryland as well as people searching the key phrase “web development Maryland”.

The secret that I am revealing is that even if your business does not have a specific location, you can still submit it to Google Places.The best way to move up in the Google rankings is to optimize your site for a specific location, and move outwards gradually. TaylorLovett.com first was optimized for a small town called “Rockville” (which is in Maryland), then moved to a bigger town called “Bethesda”, then took over Maryland. Now if you search “web developer Maryland”, you will seeTaylorLovett.com on the first page competing with multi-million dollar web development firms. Pretty neat, huh?

Also, I’m not sure if you heard about this or not, but Google just completely changed the way they display localized search results. What does this mean for you? While this may sound unimportant, it is actually a pretty big deal because it gives websites that use proper SEO techniques a huge leg up. Prior to this change, when you searched “web development Maryland”, local Maryland results were displayed (by Google Places) above the actual organic search results. Now those same Google places results are integrated in to the organic search results. The two algorithms have been merged. This change places even more importance on websites that are listed in Google Places. You have nothing to lose!

SEOMoz, a leading search engine optimization research site, put out an exclusive report which included some useful tips when creating your Google Places listing.

– In Places results, domain-wide link popularity factors seem more important than page-specific ones. We’ve heard that links aren’t as important in local/places and the data certainly suggest that’s accurate (see the full report to compare correlations), but they may not be completely useless, particularly on the domain level.

– Using the city and business type keyword in the page title and the listing name (when claiming/editing your business’s name in the results) may give a positive boost. Results using these keywords seem to frequently outrank their peers. Use the city/state you are targeting in your listing.

– More is almost always better when it comes to everything associated with your Places listing – more related maps, more reviews, more “about this place” results, etc. However, this metric doesn’t appear as powerful as we’d initially thought. It could be that the missing “consistency” metric is a big part of why the correlations here weren’t higher.