Google Places results are based on a separate ranking algorithm from Google Web Results. Such separation is apparent as it can be seen and calculated based on businesses that have attained high rankings in Google Places and that are nowhere to be seen in web results – and vice-versa. From these calculations, we are able to deduce ways in which the algorithms differ, furthermore we can propose ways your Google Places listings can be optimised to achieve higher rankings.
To help visualise the optimisation process, we have some bullet-point strategies with which your Google Places listing can be optimised to achieve higher result positions. These have been compiled into a simple colour-coded infographic:
Having a Google Places listing is becoming increasingly more important for businesses, as local listings are more likely than ever to dominate over natural web results for local search terms. The presence of GPS enabled hardware on devices when searching Google is becoming more common and this is pushing Google and other search engines towards promoting more location-oriented search results.
For these reasons and many others, you need become familiar with the optimisation process for both web results, and for Google Places results. To aid you with this, we have listed 5 tried and tested methods for optimising your Google Places listing and achieve higher rankings…
1) Uniform Your Company Profile Across The Web
The most fundamental form of optimisation is a uniformed company profile. This begins with the company brand name and cascades into uniformity of your contact details across the web.
As a general rule, Google should always see exactly the same brand name and contact details for the company, wherever it looks, so that it’s obvious to Google that it is the same company. This includes the brand name and contact details featuring on: your company website, your directory listings (even if they have nofollow on the links) and your Google Places listing itself. Any major flaws or differences in these basic essential company profile details, anywhere on the web, runs a risk of being disregarded. If this happens, so too are any crucial reviews and ratings you may have obtained.
It is important to remember that any other method of optimisation would also be deemed irrelevant, if the optimisation is associated with any inconsistently identified listing.
2) Increase Your Company Reputation With Reviews & Ratings
Similarly to business in the physical world, company reputation is vital. It can make or break any business. Google creates a virtual reputation score for each Google Places listing by analysing the data it collects from discussion on social directories such as:
Google looks at reviews on dedicated social review websites and is increasingly using social media to collect and listen to feedback from consumers of company products and services. Reviews that are held with the highest regard are those posted directly to Google Places, for reasons such as: Google can then analyse the legitimacy of the Google Account whom posted the review, Google has full control over the reviewing process and Google are generally looking to to tie everything in to their own products.
A general consensus for the average amount of reviews you should have on all of your listings is 5 – 10, however some (more competitive) industries such as taxi services, should ideally have more around 20 – 50, but the more the better. Having a majority of positive reviews will help your cause, but can also be industry specific.
3) Categorize & Describe Your Company Accurately
Other than the location, the other main source for Google Places to derive relevance is in descriptions and categories of companies on Google Places itself and on other directories.
Even if the “nofollow” attribute is applied on the link (anchor element) to your website, Google is still actively picking up the content of the listing and associating it with your Google Places listing. It is therefore imperative that the company descriptions include your highest valued terms and that your company is categorised according to the description – particularly on Google Places itself.
Titles and descriptions should also be uniquely written for each listing, as more value will be placed upon unique content in directory listings descriptions. This simply requires rewording and restructuring of the description each time you create a listing.
4) Consider Company Location & Distance From Potential Customers
Perhaps the most obvious optimisation point is your business location distance from the searcher. A centralized location for your business, such as in the centre of a city, will show up in more searches than a place in the suburbs or the countryside.
With more GPS-enabled devices in existence and with HTML5 geolocation features gaining increased browser support – Google is becoming increasingly more accurate in terms of determining precise location and distance and is factoring this more prevalently than ever. Distance is a crucial factor for your Google Places ranking that will primarily dictate whether your business is shown or not, less so in what position it appears although it is beginning to have an impact on ranking.
Remember, Google only desires to provide the most local and reputable businesses to it’s users. You can use regional tags to target areas in and around your current locality that work on an area of service basis. Doing this can increase your chances of being relative to the users location and appear in results for more searches.
5) Build Inbound Links From Content, Videos & Photos
Video sharing is a great way of building links, the more popular the video, the more powerful the link is that you have obtained.
For photo sharing we highly recommend:
Try to include your targeted search terms and geographical location in titles and include your company name, address, phone number and website descriptions in content around links.
Stop wasting valuable time and resources on static directories such as Yell.com, or other paid directory inclusion services.
Instead, focus on directory listings with a social dimension, enhancement of your own website, creating and distributing useful content such as testimonials, how-to guides, videos and photos of your work and remember to include your contact details everywhere.