For business with a physical location relying primarily on the business of local residents, getting good rankings on Google places is perhaps even more important than traditional Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
This is especially important if you’re the type of local business that generally don’t tend to have an own website, such as dry cleaners, take away restaurants and the like.
So, here are some tips which can help increase your rankings in Google places and get your brand seen by more local residents searching for a service like yours.
The first thing to do is to submit your business to Google places. I’m assuming that you already have a Google places account. If you don’t however, there’s a good guide here on how you can go about creating an account and submitting your business details.
Optimising your Google places listing
Whilst Google wont disclose the factors that impact ranking in Google places (nothing new there!), you can be pretty sure that having reviews on your listing will help improve your rankings.
Generally speaking, for small businesses, getting reviews without nudging your clients is difficult so you have to actively encourage your customers to leave a review.
Some of the ways you can do this:
- Send an email to every customer asking them to review the service making sure you insert your listing’s URL so they don’t have to search for it
- Include an incentive such as a discount for the next purchase or anything that will encourage them to leave a review
- If you have family or friends who have used your service, ask them to leave a review
Getting reviews is essential if you want to improve your places listing especially if there are many other businesses like you in the area.
Make sure your website is mobile friendly
For local business, having a mobile friendly version of your website is almost a given now and not just for SEO. 3 out of 5 searches on a mobile are for users looking for a local business, there’s a pretty good chance, your website visitor is using a mobile or tablet to view your website. if your website doesn’t render properly on these devices, you’ll be throwing away a large percentage of potential business.
For the purposes of SEO, a mobile friendly website is equally important for precisely the reasons mentioned above already. Carry out the same search on a desktop vs. a mobile and you’ll notice that the results aren’t the same. Again, there’s little conclusive evidence as to why (check out this article for more) but it’s no coincidence that most of the top 5 results for different searches have websites which are mobile friendly.
The good news is getting a mobile version of your website is relatively inexpensive and with the mobile web showing no signs of growing, it can pay for itself many times over in the long term.
Build links to your Google places listing
That’s not a typo! Building links is an essential part of any SEO strategy whether you’re optimising your website, Google listing or even a YouTube video.
The one difference here however, is that building links from local sources to your places account will have a much better impact. For example, if you provide home teaching for English and are listing yourself in directories (relevant ones and few), then you should consider submitting your places listing URL in a few of them. Google verifies places data in many different ways and this can help increase credibility of your places listing as well as your brand, in Google’s eyes.
Don’t game Google
If you’ve submitted a business in the early days of Google places, you’ll know the process was extremely easy – submit your business and in a few days, it’s live. Now, however, there’s a verification process, in that Google sends out a postcard containing a code which then has to be entered online to verify your listing before it goes live.
Whilst this may be 1 technique that we know Google uses to verify places, in my experience, even if you managed to open multiple places accounts there’s a pretty good chance it’s not going to get published if each of the places address you submitted isn’t visible on your website.
The reason I include this tip here is if you get it wrong and Google understands that your listing(s) aren’t real, you may get even your genuine listing removed altogether.
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