10 Quick Tips on Google Places

Google Places LogoIn this blog post we’ll take a look at increasing the rank/position of your Google Local/Maps/Places listing.

I run a regular seminar on SEO (search engine optimisation) at the ever great British Library, for the last few times I’ve run it I have had to increasingly leave out nuggets on optimisation for Google Local Places listings as the topic becomes more expansive.

The last time I ran it I promised we’d look at running a seminar on its own on SEO local optimisation, for those of you who can’t wait for me to write the content then I have summarised some quick tips on how to get maximum performance and visibility from your listing;

Tip 1 – Get on the map

Accelerator Places Listing

If you haven’t got a Google Places listing then head over to http://www.google.co.uk/places and sign up. The process is easy, will take you about 20 mins, and all you need to do is describe your business and be near your phone (Google will call you in about 3 seconds of pressing submit).

If you’re lucky enough to be in a niche business then you can dominate the first page of Google for your chosen keywords within minutes. Even on my 22” monitor then Accelerator occupies nearly half of the visible results page for their key phrase “business incubation London”

Tip 2 – Put your keywords in your company name

Lucidica IT Support London Places Listing

When you register your business then don’t just enter your business name as it appears at Companies House especially if your company name doesn’t describe what you do. If you’re called Lucidica and you provide IT Support register your company name as Lucidica | IT Support. This will not only provide a massive boon to your Google ranking, it will also make it easy for your users to see what you do before they click on your listing

Tip 3 – Register with local directories

Register your site with local directories, even paid for ones like Thompson, Yell and TouchLocal are worth the money. For London based businesses Londinium, LondonDirectory, UpMyStreet, YourParish, LondonOnline and zPages are all free and great.

Tip 4 – Do it the Google Way

Google LogoIf you have a certain way of writing your address make sure it’s the ‘Google Way’. If you’re based in London, the city is London. Shoreditch is not a city, nor is Hoxton. Make sure that you fill in the Google form right or you’ll get the dreaded ‘This location is not currently supported’ as we did when registering a business in the Docklands

Tip 5 – Ensure continuity

If you move address or change phone numbers it’s time to update all of those directories; yes all of them! Otherwise you’ll be competing with yourself. Make sure that your address is written the same way on every single site, and if in doubt keep it simple. London boroughs for example are rarely given in addresses so drop it from your address. Make sure everywhere your address and phone number appears online it’s the same.

Basically it’s this continuity that ensures Google knows where you are. Traditional SEO relies on links like this ‘Lucidica providing IT support in London’. Google Places just needs; ‘Lucidica, 35 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8AA, 0844 414 2994’, written all over the web preferably on web sites about your geographical area.

Tip 6 – Get a local number

0207 numberGoogle Places doesn’t like non-geographical numbers if you have an 0844, 0845, 0870 or 0800 number you are going to be a step behind. If you’re based in London get an 020 number, Birmingham a 0121 number.

Tip 7 – Get participating

Google loves you to take part, spend an extra 20 mins on your listing filling in as much as you can and then add some additional content. Images, videos, and map content is all loved by Google. Add a couple for at least a pat on the head

Tip 8 – Get people to review

starsGoogle Places affords users the ability to review your services; the more you have the more Google will display your results. Even bad reviews are better than no reviews (although all bad obviously won’t help for many other reasons). Coax people to review you, and it doesn’t have to be just on Google anymore increasingly Google will pull in TripAdvisor and Facebook et al to aggregate an overall picture of you.

Tip 9 – Comment on forums and discussions with location

This can be tricky to find but TripAdvisor is a great example, under your user profile it puts your location and under every comment you make. Be wary of spamming though; first and foremost add a decent review or comment and you’ll approach it from a direction that has less chance of you being removed. Online discussion forums about your city/town are also great. Any opportunity to put faithfully put your address shouldn’t be missed.

Tip 10 – Move closer to the centre

Not an easy one, but unfortunately fundamentally important. Google has a centre for every location you type into Google Maps, the closer you are to this point the higher up you’ll rank. You can check where this point is by typing the location into Google Maps click here for London.

Written by Thomas Jeffs, the CTO of Lucidica.