How to Optimize Your Places Listing

Any techniques you will learn from this blog will be practically useless if your business places listing is not fully optimized. You can use the templates as a standalone HTML5 template or use it in your wordpress theme. Using a landing page for your Google + Local Page listing URL instead of your home website improves rankings. This has been proven to work.

1. Get your Google Places page to absolute 100% completeness, before you do anything
else. Your Places page isn’t exactly complete if Google itself is telling you you’re missing some
of the basics.

2. Get at least 5 Google reviews from your customers this will ensure your average customer-review rating shows up on your Places page and on the SERPs.

3. Be sure your NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) information is exactly the same with your physical address. Your phone must be the same phone number in your physical address. Usually, it is advised to have only one contact phone number across your web presence. This makes it easy for your customers to reach you.

Tip: Add addresses in hcard or schema mark-up (get it here: http://microformats.org/code/hcard/creator). Remember, be consistent. Include NAP in the footer of your landing page (page where people land on your website)

4. Google serves up location based information, if you have multiple locations, create different landing pages for them. Use one landing page as a central point for all the other business locations. Ensure the address is localized and listed as is in your places page.

5. Ensure Local Area Code of each location is present on Google places page. Don’t forget, consistency across the web.

6. Avoid using Tracking numbers. They hinder searches. Be especially consistent with phone numbers. Most verification is done via phone numbers. Customers who need to make purchase or contact you look out for phone number. It is also an identifier on the internet. Having inconsistent phone numbers exposes your business to duplicate listings. Again, do not use tracking numbers anywhere in your business data, even offline.

7. Include Sets of Average-review stars. You can achieve this by adding at least one customer testimonial to your main website in what is known as hReview microformat. hReview is a type of code which tells Google to pay attention to your customer’s review. Having just one set of golden stars show up in the search results can boost your click-through rate; having two sets can drive even more clicks from potential customers. I do not know the rationale behind this, but it works. You can generate it with this tool here or use a wordpress plugin available here.

8. Reply to every customer review written on your Places page. You should get in the habit of appreciating the customers who leave you nice reviews, and graciously responding to the few who do not. This not only looks good potential customers, it is also a good way of filling out the reviews area of your page a little more. You can also slip in occasional tidbits about your services that you may not have added anywhere else on your page.

9. Get as many customer reviews as you can on at least 3 third-party sites. Google features up to 3 links that go to third-party sites where customers have written your reviews at the bottom of your Places page. Up to 4 of these links also show up in your “preview” area, which customers see when they hover their cursors over your Places listing from the main search results page. This increases your authority and credibility.

10. Upload as many photos as you humanly can to major third-party sites, particularly InsiderPages, CitySearch, Panoramio and Thumbtack. You personally can only upload 10 photos to your Places page, but it’s possible to have more than 10 show up on your Places page. How? Google pays attention to the info that third-party sites have on your business. If you can supply those third-party sources with plenty of photos, Google often will grab those photos and put them on your Places page (in addition to the 10 photos you personally can upload directly to your Places page. You can feed extra photos to Google by having a “Gallery” page on your website.

Tip: Use GeoSetter to geo-tag them with the latitude and longitude of the business, and add NAP and keywords to the meta data before uploading.

11. Add a caption to your photos, especially the first photo you upload. The first photo you add to your place listing usually show up as the default photo. You will want to pick this photo and its caption carefully because everyone who’s on your Places page will see it. Unlike Bing, Google Places doesn’t have a way to add
captions to photos, so you’ll have to save the caption as part of the image itself. How you do that is simply open the image in any photo editor like Photoshop or Gimp and type in the caption on the image before you upload to your places page.

12. Add coupons to your Places page. Coupons provide link to your main website. It is a grand way of ensuring that there is a direct connection between your listing and your main website. Plus, it improves credibility and authority. I usually advice my clients not to have a coupon linking elsewhere but their website.

You could absolutely go crazy with offers and add tons of them, if you wanted to. As long as you comply with Google’s guidelines, you can add a bunch of coupons to your listing be careful not to add too much. This can take the value of your coupons away. Also make them pictures as well instead of only text.

13. Get enough reviews that the “At a glance” snippets appear on your Places page. I am not sure how many reviews you need for this feature to appear on your places page or in the search results. My guess is you may need up to a hundred for it to appear. I also think they will appear if your information is consistent across all third party platforms and directories you have submitted to.

14. Add a QR code to your Places page. The QR code can lead them to pretty much anything that you want them to do such as offers, social sites, review sites, home websites, etc.

15. Google allows you to add up to 5 videos to your places page. Use all of them. Upload your videos to youtube.com and add the url to your listing page. Make sure the video has your business logo in it as well. This creates branding.

16. Snag an award if you can, like “Best of CitySearch” or the “Angie’s List Super Service Award,” from third-party review sites. These often show up on your Places page-and look mighty nice if you can get them.

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