Learn about the latest changes in online marketing and how it might impact businesses with a web presence.
I believe in the coming months that local businesses will see a revolution in how their business is represented on the web. Search engine giant, Google, has made several changes over the past year to their Google Places service. For those of you who haven’t yet heard of Google Places, it’s a new way of helping searchers find businesses near their area and it has slowly taken over the organic search results pages for several keywords.
Take “Raleigh Landscapers” for example.
The Google algorithm has decided that when the word ‘landscapers’ is appended to a location, “Raleigh” in this instance, it has decided to show almost an entire page of Google Places listings for businesses in the Raleigh area. Places listings are denoted by the red icon that appears below the page title for each listing. I go over this in more detail in my Raleigh SEO post.
What does this mean for your business? Businesses that offer services to specific geographic regions will probably find that their traffic from Google has dwindled unless they have created a Places listing. Businesses that once dominated the front page for regional keywords have now been pushed to page 2 as Google Places takes up ever-larger positions within the search results pages.
However, it’s not enough to create a Places listing. You may have noticed that these businesses are positioned A through G. You can bet there are quite a few more landscapers in the Raleigh area than these that are listed, but Google has decided that these businesses are the most relevant. How is that determined?
Google Places has gone through quite a few makeovers since its introduction, however all of these changes indicate that Places listings are increasingly ranked according to the same ranking algorithm for organic search results.
So, if you want your business to appear on the first page of the Google Places listings, you’ll need to make sure your website is properly configured for the keyword you are going after in addition to having a properly configured Places listing. That means having on-site SEO and a strong marketing campaign to build your website’s authority through backlinks, articles, news releases, and geo-tagged videos.
In addition to these tradition SEO factors, I’ve noticed that a places ranking is also influenced through your business’s online footprint. You need a consistent identity across multiple local citation websites including Yelp and InsiderPages. Having customer reviews doesn’t hurt either. If you’re wanting a top spot though, you’ll have to take a few more steps.
Places listings include areas for you to include relevant images of your business and services, videos, and categories. Don’t ignore these fields. In addition to give potential clients a better idea of what you offer, you stand to gain ranking in Places listings also.
If you are looking to set up a Google Places account, feel free to contact me before jumping in. There are several steps you need to complete before you even create your Places listing and you run a risk of being inadvertently punished by Google if you skip them. First page listings for Google Places is definitely attainable regardless of the services you offer or your location.