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How Google Places can raise your SEO - My Marketing ThingMy Marketing Thing

My Marketing Thing

How Google Places can raise your SEO

Mr & Mrs Google Places cartoon

Google is like God. It works in mysterious ways.

But there are people who think they have the inside story. I gather some serious testing has been done to validate the claim that Google Places (http://www.google.com/places/) helps one’s ranking significantly.


5 reasons to partake in Google Places:

  1. It’s free
    And the listing fast to create. I’ll explain how in this post.
  2. You don’t even need a website
    Just pop your details in and – voila! – online presence.
  3. Local biz?
    Google Places promotes your physical location through Google Maps. So if your customers are local, and you want more of them, and what you do for a living is legal, then you really should appear on Google Places, no question.
  4. Local or not local
    Either way the keywords in your profile will help your Google ranking. More about this in a jiffy.
  5. Protect yourself from identity theft
    Some soul-barren businesses actually search to see which of their competition hasn’t gotten around to listing themselves on Google Places – and then take advantage. Basically, they pretend to be you and direct the visitor to their site and phone number. So best get onto it, I say.
In short, it’s another way people can find out about you, so why not?

 

What is Google Places exactly?

Google allows you to create a basic profile (business listing) and a ‘pin’ to pop on Google Maps as to where you are located. Here’s an example showing My Marketing Thing (you can see a red pin that says ‘A’ indicating where My Marketing Thing resides):

Google Maps screen shot

 

Don’t want people visiting you at home?

If you work from home/online like I do, invest in a PO Box. There’s no problem listing a postal box on your Google Places profile. That’s what is happening here for My Marketing Thing’s pin.

Click on the name of the business…

….and you see this:

My Marketing Thing info bubble on Google Maps

As I don’t have a shop but a post box, Google has taken the liberty of putting a photo up of a café next to where the post boxes are. I guess, while they’re trying to find me they can pit stop for a cuppa…

Note: Put a fake street address in your listing and Google will smack you. Put multiple listings for the phone number and it will smack you again (which is a real bummer if you have genuinely different businesses using the same phone number…but life isn’t fair). Actually, Google won’t smack you. It will just remove the extra listings.

On a happier note…The wonderful thing you might notice here is that my website link and phone number are both there in all their glory. Beautiful. But wait – there’s more!

 

Click the ‘more info’ link…and you see something like this:

Google Place Listing

Quelle joyeux, oui?

What goodies do you get?

  • A description about you – written by you
  • Contact details – again, bless them
  • Photos and reviews - Google assesses these prior to letting them through the gate (best not write your own review…they won’t let it through)
  • Related places - okay…that’s often your competition but, hey, it’s a community thing, and then they make it all better by letting you promote yourself EVEN FURTHER under:
  • More about this place - your additional description plus some mysterious streaming stuff happens here (your activities on other sites)  beyond your control…be prepared to be amazed.


So how do you set up your Google Places listing?

  1. Sign up for a free Google account (if you haven’t one already)
    (make the email address relevant to your business as the public will see it)
  2. Go to: http://www.google.com/places/
  3. Click on this bit: (insert pic of Google Places page)
  4. Sign into your Google account on the right hand side (if you’re not signed in already)
  5. Enter your business phone number and select the correct country, as requested
  6. Follow the rest of the prompts, it’s pretty straight-forward
    …but there is one thing we need to talk about:


About ‘Breaking into the Top 7′

When you hear people talking about ‘Breaking into the Top 7′ of Google Places they are talking about when someone searches in Google (i.e. ‘Google proper’) there’s often seven flagged listings that appear first on the page – with a Google Map beside the section indicating where these businesses are found.

Pretty nice real estate, oui?

Here’s an example of an accountants search (with my scribble indicating the Adwards pins and the free Google Places pins):

Google maps listed on Google search

 

Keywords for higher Google ranking

You can have keywords in the areas of: your business name, description and additional details of your Google Places listing. Here’s the low-down:

Your business name
You would this this one’s pretty straight-forward. But some business names don’t really say what area they are in. This can put you on the backfoot, Google-wise. Some add a word or two after the business name to explain it.
Accountancy example:

Your business name could officially be XYZ Pty Ltd.
But some people might choose to type something like: XYZ Accountancy Services for better search engine optimisation.

Warning
on ‘keyword stuffing’
Be careful with keywords in the business name, however. Some people have been caught (usually by their competitors dobbing them in) putting a heap of keywords in the business name field. It can get to the point when it’s obvious this isn’t the proper business name. And you’re sunk. If the name looks strangely keyword crammed (called ‘keyword stuffing’) Google will have you for breakfast.

Your description
Your 200-character description needs to focus on your key products and services. Don’t waste characters on your history, your geographic location or try to impress with jargon. Just say what you specialise in and what your services/products include – keywords should appear naturally in this description.

Hint 1: If you are an accountant, use both ‘accountant’ and ‘accountancy’ in the description. If you’re a trainer, use ‘trainer’ and ‘training’. Get the picture?
Hint 2: Apparently using ‘the word free’ is a good idea – so end with: ‘Free quotes’.

Your category
You have to have at least one standard category, but for better Google ranking use all five opportunities available. Look at your top keywords and choose the most relevant five.
Example: Accountant, Business Accounting, Tax accounting, Chartered accountant, Financial Adviser.

Additional details:
Like with description, focus on products and services.
Accountancy example:
Chartered accountants and financial planners specialising in: Assurance and advisory, business solutions, corporate finance, financial services, outsourced accounting, risk management, tax services, insolvency.
Each detail consists of two fields with a maximum space of 200 characters each. The colon after ‘specialising in’ separates the two fields.

After submitting your information

You have to verify your listing by phone (you trigger a phone call from Google’s computers – quite nifty) or mail (snail mail of up to 5 weeks).


Don’t stop there!

Once your Google Places listing is there for all the world to see, you can really ramp up the action:

  • Reviews
    Strong-arm clients to write gushingly positive reviews about you (email them the link to your Google Place page for easy access).
  • Offers
    Have a special offer to lure new clients? Promote it here. Or you can create one especially for those who have found you on Google Places Upload it (with a coupon?) to your Google Place page. Note: if there’s a time limit on the offer, make it crystal clear.
  • Photos & Video
    You can upload 10 photos and 5 videos (from YouTube.com). Add relevant, meaningful photos (your ‘outlet’, your products, a photo of you and a happy client who likes having their photo paraded online). Consider a special video message from you for those who have found you on Google Places (mentioning that special offer we talked about in the previous point perhaps?). ‘What we do’ videos aren’t particularly enticing – lead in with how you solve a common problem.
    SEO hint: have keywords in the titles of your photo and video files.


That’s enough. It’s probably taken you longer to read this article than to actually create your Google Places listing. But there’s no excuses now. Off you go. Et bon chance!

 

This post was written by Megan Hills. Megan is a writer, cartoonist and marketing consultant who finds having a fixed address challenging – just as well it’s a post box. Find out more about Megan.

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One Comment

  1. Megan,
    your article is completely relevant to my situation of wanting a higher ranking on google without putting my home address out there…..
    Brilliant advice thankyou.
    Sarah

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