As you are probably aware Google Places listings appear when a person searches for a product or service with a geographical location in the search key-phrase for example “SEO Company London” or “Shoe Shop Bristol”.

Check out the video above to see what Google have to say about Places before we get stuck into some Google Places Optimisation.

Places sounds great for local businesses doesn’t it? But the reality is these days Google Places is so competitive that the chance of anywhere near the front page from just signing up is pretty much zero.Depending on how popular your niche is will depend on how much Google Places Optimisation you will have to perform.Below are the steps I have taken for other companies (and some of my own) when optimising their Google Places ranking position.

Step 1 – Claim your Google Places Page

Claim your Google Places page fill in your info and Google will send you a post card with a activation PIN to the business address in your listing. This can take up to a couple of weeks, when it arrives login to your Google account and enter the PIN to confirm your Confirm your Google Places Page.

Step 2 – Optimize the Google Places Page

When you login you will have to enter all your business information into your Google Places listing, I have broken down each section below. In this example I am optimising local places for a flower shop in Bristol called “Super Awesome Flowers”

Basic Information

Fill everything in the “Basic Information” section, all of it! The more complete your Google Places page the better, fill in your country and all the obvious information for your business anything that needs extra attention I have outlined below.

Company / Organisation

Fill in your company name, do not spam this field with location based keywords for example “Flower Shop Bristol” – Google will get you ;) or your competition will report you.

Category’s

This section is very important you should enter in phrases that people are going to search for your product, for a flower shop I would enter the following category’s.

“Flower Shop”
“Florist”

And then perhaps some more niche terms that will get searched less but should earn the business more money for example:

“Wedding Flowers”
“Funeral Flowers”

Do not add location names in the category fields for Google Places, I know some of your competitors will be doing this but it’s against Google’s Quality guidelines for Places.

Phone Number

If you have a local number use it, some people have said that using a local based number will affect the ranking position. Personally I have seen no difference between local numbers and national numbers such as 800 0800 / 0845’s etc, make sure you list the phone number you have listed on other directories for the address used in your Google Places listing.

Web Address

If you only have one Google Places listing then enter your home page if you have multiple then create a localised landing page for each, for example www.yourdomain.com/places/flower-shop-bristol on the page target the keywords you mentioned in the category’s section above.

Service areas and Location Settings

Google give you two options here:

Google Places Optimisation Service Area

I would recommend selecting “No, all customers come to the business location” whenever I have set the area using either the map marker or typing in locations of towns /cities served my places listings never seem to rank as well.

Hours of Operations

Fill in your opening hours, make sure you do this so that your listing is as complete as possible.

Payment Options

Fill in your payment options, make sure you do this so that your listing is as complete as possible.

Photos

Add your company logo and few other images of work you have done or some photos of your office, I would recommend naming a few of the images the same as the keywords you are targeting such as “flower-shop-bristol.jpg”.

Videos

If possible add a YouTube video for your business, most businesses leave this out as they do not have a video. Often in competitive niche’s page 1 Google places listings are those businesses that have added a video.

Additional Details

Fill this section in, for a flower shop I would enter the following:

“Flowers available” “Wedding, Funeral, Special Occasions”

“Special Services” “Flower Delivery, Custom Flower Selection & Arrangement”

 

Google Places Optimisation - Additional Details

Click Submit we are done with the Google Places page optimisation.

Step 3 – List your address on your website!

Sounds kind of obvious but many businesses don’t! I would recommend listing your company address in the footer of every page on your website, use the exact same address format as in your Google Places advert.

Step 5 – List your address on other websites

Sign up to some well respected online directory website and fill the profiles in using as much detail as possible, again make sure you keep the address format and phone number the same. There have been suggestions made that the more higher ranking well respected pages your address appears on the higher your places page will rank on Google.

Here are a list of  UK online directory sites I would recommend for Google Places:

  • www.yell.com
  • www.qype.co.uk
  • www.freeindex.co.uk
  • www.thomsonlocal.com
  • www.localdatacompany.com
  • www.touchlocal.com
  • www.ratemyarea.com
  • www.upmystreet.com
  • www.bizwiki.co.uk
  • www.scoot.co.uk
  • www.hotfrog.co.uk

If you are in the US check out the Local directory list provided by SEO Moz or our UK free business directory list.

Step 6 – Get more Google Places Reviews

Here are my top tips for getting more Google Places reviews:

  • Ask your clients to review your business, this is best done after you have just completed some excellent work for them or sold them a product they love
  • Email clients you know well asking for reviews
  • Include a link in your email signature to your Google Places page using the anchor text “Write us a Google review” or similar
  • Include a link on your invoices, especially if you send them out digitally

Get reviews on other websites not just on your Google Places page, Google will then scrape / harvest reviews.

If you have any more suggestions on how to rank higher for Google Places please drop us a comment on Twitter @Lion_SEO