Local SEO

For some search terms, your website must be listed in Google Places (formerly Google Local) if you want to be listed on the first results page.

Google Places

To-do list:

Click the following headlines to learn how to get your website listed on Google Places for local keywords:

1. Seven elements that you need to get listed in Google Places

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How your website is listed in Google Places depends on several things. For example, bakeries in Los Angeles are listed differently than Honda dealers in Knoxville. The location of your business, the industry that you’re in and the keywords that you are targeting and other things influence your listing in Google Places.

Ranking element 1: your address

If you want to get high rankings for keywords that are related to a particular city, then your business should be located in that city.

If you want to be found for local searches in London then your business must have a physical address in London.

Ranking element 2: your business category

You must make sure that your business is listed in the correct category in Google Places. If you sell cars then your website should not be listed in the real estate category. You can specify the correct category when you submit your website to Google Places (see below).

Ranking element 3: keywords in your business name

If your business name contains the keywords for which you want to be found, then you increase your chance of getting listed in the Google Places results on Google’s first page.

If you have a restaurant, it will help your rankings for the keyword “restaurant” if your business name is “Peter’s Restaurant.”

Ranking element 4: citations of your business

Citations (also called “web references”) are mentions of your business name and address on other web pages, even if these web pages do not link to your website.

For example, a yellow pages directory or the local chamber of commerce might list your business without linking to your website. The more citations your business has, the more likely it is that it will be listed for local searches.

Citations have a similar effect on local searches as backlinks have on regular website listings. Try to get your website address listed on as many websites as possible to show Google that your business is real.

Ranking element 5: data consistency

Your business name, address and phone number have to be consistent across the different websites that list your business. If your business is listed with different information, then this could be interpreted as a spamming attempt.

Ranking element 6: you must have positive reviews

Google Places is basically a recommendation search engine. They recommend local restaurants, plumbers, hotels, etc. in the search results. If the recommended businesses offer poor products and poor services, then people wouldn’t continue to use Google Places.

Positive reviews and ratings help Google to gain more confidence in your company. The more positive reviews your company has, the better. Encourage your customers to write a positive review if they are satisfied with your products and services.

Ranking element 7: proximity to the searched location

If your business is located near to the searched location, then it is more likely that it will be displayed in the search results.

If you have a hotel near the Museum of Modern Art, then it’s likely that Google will show your Google Places listing for search terms such as “hotels near moma.”

2. Eight elements that have a negative impact on your listings.

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Some elements in your Google Places listings can have a negative impact on the position of your Google Places listing in the search results. Check the following elements to make sure that you’re not accidentially hurting your listing.

Negative element 1: negative review sentiment

It takes a strong amount of negative reviews to affect your rankings. If negative reviews affected the position of your rankings, it would be an easy way for competitors to destroy your rankings.

For restaurant or hotel websites, the influence of negative reviews on the rankings might be higher. In general, negative reviews will decrease the click-through rate so you should try to get as few negative reviews as possible.

Negative element 2: local keywords in categories

Google enables you to suggest categories when you submit your site to Google Places. Do not add local keywords (for examplpe “Dog Walker Los Angeles”) to the category.

This is against Google’s guidelines, and it can result in a massive ranking drop.

Negative element 3: (800) phone numbers

Companies with an 800 phone number can rank fine on Google Places, but it might be better to avoid it. A local phone number seems to increase the rankings on Google Places for many sites.

Google suggests you use a local phone number instead of a call center number, whenever possible.

Negative element 4: multiple locations on your Google Places landing page

Multiple locations on your Google Places landing page can confuse Google. Use one landing page per city or location to avoid problems.

Negative element 5: multiple Google Places pages with the same business title

Your business should not have multiple Google Places entries. This just makes it more difficult for Google to pick the right one for the results. Clean up your listings and create one good listing.

Duplicate addresses can happen with office buildings. In that case, use suite numbers to differentiate your address.

Negative element 6: using a P.O. box as the main address on your website without a real address

Google does not consider P.O. boxes accurate physical locations. Listings submitted with P.O. Box addresses will be removed by Google.

If your website only shows a P.O. box address, this can have a negative influence on your Google Places rankings.

Negative element 7: hiding your address on your Google Places pages

If you hide your address on your Google Places entry, it is very likely that your Google Places entry won’t be shown except for exact searches for your company name.

Duplicate addresses can happen with office buildings. In that case, use suite numbers to differentiate your address.

Negative element 8: multiple Google Places pages with the same phone number

This seems to be the most harmful factor. Technically, a business owner could legitimately be running several business with the same phone number, but you should use a distinct local area code phone number for each distinct business.

Multiple Google Places entries with the same phone number have been used by spammers in the past. That’s why this can have a negative impact on your website listing.

3. Seven things that you can do to optimize your Google Places listing

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There are several things that you can do to improve the position of your website in Google Places. Do the following to make sure that Google picks your Google Places listings for the search results.

Step 1: increase the number of reviews

If your business has very few reviews, increasing the number of reviews will be helpful up to a certain point. Having more reviews than competing websites can make your listing more attractive.

Step 2: increase the number of citations on major data providers

The more often your business is mentioned on Internet Yellow Pages portals and other data providers that are used by Google Places, the more likely it is that Google will pick your site. A list of data providers can be found at the bottom of this page.

Step 3: use keywords in your Google Places page description

If you use the keywords for which you want to be found in your Google Places page description, this increases the chance of getting listing for local searches that are related to these keywords.

Step 4: add as much information as possible

Add photos, videos, logos, images and other information to your listing. That information enhances the user experience and it increases conversions.

Step 5: get backlinks with local keywords in the anchor text

In low competition markets, local keywords in the anchor text of your backlinks can improve your rankings.

Step 6: add your full address to your Google Places landing page

This is a trust factor and it makes sure that Google will properly associate your website with your Google Places listing. The full address of your business on your website can also be indexed as a citation source that can have a positive impact on your Google Places listing.

Step 7: add geotagged photos and videos to your Google Places listing

Geotagged photos and videos can make your Google Places listing more relevant to the location. Many new compact cameras and mobile phones can automatically add geo information to photos and videos.

4. How to create a Google Places listing

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Creating a Google Places listing is easy. Just go to this page, login and submit your website information. When you submit your website to Google Maps/Google Places, make sure that you follow the tips above.

5. Other local sites and review sites to which you should submit your website.

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The more local directories list your website, the better. Here’s a list of popular local sites. Many of them are also used by Google for reviews and ratings:

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