How to Optimize for Google Places

We all know anyone who wants to be someone in the Internet world (and beyond) can benefit immensely from high search engine rankings. We know that, people –including ourselves- rarely look further than the first couple of search engine result pages. That’s why Google constantly works on perfecting its algorithm so that people can find what they need without struggling too much with the searching process.

We also know that when we are looking for a certain product or service, we are likely to keep our searches local. And with so many searches being location-specific, business owners want to be listed high in terms of their place.

That’s where Google Places comes in very handy.

Google Places: What It Is

Previously called Google Local Business Center, Google Places is a free service that offers business owners a chance to get listed on Google with the help of the location of their business.

But this is so much more than appearing on Google Maps. It offers lots of features that allow them to interact with their customers, post immediate updates, and give detailed information about their services in one place. Others can also become a part of this sharing process by ranking the businesses and writing recommendations about them, with the help of Google Hotpot.

So basically Google Places can be used as a highly interactive online platform where customers and businesses come together.

What You Need to Know about Using Google Places

  • Google Places is a free and easy to use service, but just like anything Google-related, it comes with a set of guidelines.
  • Before getting all excited about this, you should first check if it is available in your city and country. You can check this through the mapping tool availability. You also need to have launched your services to be able to use this service.
  • Google takes you through the process step by step.  All you need to do is to follow their 12 steps to create the complete listing such as learning the guidelines, adding a description of your business, adding photos, videos, etc.
  • You can’t have multiple listings. However, you can just list your different locations of business or different services you offer under your one listing.
  • Some or all of the features are limited to certain cities- such as asking Google for a free photo shoot or asking for a free business kit.
  • If you want to take the paid route, you can also use Adwords to enhance your promotion activities.
  • Also if you live in the US, you can advertise with Google Tags for $25/month. You get a 30-day free trial to advertise on Google and Google maps through Tags.
  • You don’t need a website to use Google Places.

Optimizing for Google Places

  • Similar search engine optimization basics apply: you need to think about keywords in terms of the people searching- what do they need? What wordings do they use?
  • Your titles, URL, tags, proper use of keywords all matter.
  • Treat it like you’d treat your favorite social media site. Meaning, if you want to get high rankings, you need a full profile, great photos, constant and relevant updates and more.
  • Respect the dynamics of word of mouth. Hotpot allows everyone to evaluate your
  • business. So it is not just enough to open up to this platform and make the best use of it. You need to make sure your customers are happy and tell good things about you. Remember that good news travel fast, but bad news and bad reviews travel much faster.
  • We all know the importance backlinks when it comes to increasing your SEO rankings. You want links coming from authoritative sites. When it comes to Local SEO, you also care about respectable business directories. Citations and references also serve like links.  Google and other search engines may pay attention to “citations” or “references” in respectable (business) directories. You want to be mentioned in these directories, even if this “citation” only consists of your address and/or phone number.
  • When it comes to citations; don’t ignore local authorities (government bodies, schools,non-profits…etc.) either. You want their links and references.

You know how Google works and you know your SEO. You are also familiar with how to treat social media sites effectively. What are you waiting for? Start using Google Places – abide by the guidelines and hopefully watch a nice increase in sales and brand awareness.

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