As you are probably already aware, when a user performs a query in Google, more than just Google’s organic search results are returned. AdWord campaigns at the top and the side of the page constitute a sort of “billboard” arrangement around the organic results. However, more and more, these organic results also contain a different sort of result: Google Places imports.
Google Places is Google’s answer to the Yellow Pages: An attempt to return the most relevant data to a search query based on where in the world it came from. For clients who provide a product on a global scale, a Google Places page isn’t really going to help you as much as it might for a client who provides a local product or service. A plumbing services company, for example, will benefit from using Google Places way more than somebody who sells computer hardware components online.
However, the truth is that a lot of businesses out there are those which provide a localized product or service. Though ranking high for keywords will get such services to the top of pages, this isn’t always as useful as ranking high in Google Places. SEOmoz recently performed an eye tracking study, and the results reinforce this point: When searching for a localized product or service (“plumbing,” “pizza,” or “lawn care” for instance), the Google Places results—whether scattered, collected, or in the middle of the page—received more attention from the searcher than any other part of the page.
Using Google Places to Promote Your Business
Being Google Places’ “A” listing in these situations is being shown out as one of the most powerful places to be found on Google. So how does a business get to that “A” listing in Google Places? It all comes down to a few basic principles.
Citations and References
A high-ranking Google Place will have a lot of references on the internet: The more sources on the internet at which your business’s location information can be found, the better. Think of this as link-building for Google Places. A good source will improve your placing in Places and a bad source will either have no effect or hurt your Places rank.
GPPO (Google Places Page Optimization)
Yes, I made that abbreviation up. And yes, I think it deserves to become canon for SEOs everywhere. While SEO refers to optimizing your website, in order to best illustrate who your company is and what it does, GPPO refers, specifically, to ensuring that your Places page achieves this same goal. This includes tactics such as making sure that categories for your Places page match your company as exactly as possible and linking your Places page to a location-specific landing page. These two things, working together, will improve your Places results for relevant search queries.
Google likes it when people talk about your company on Google Places. As a result, the more Google Places reviews your company has, the more relevancy Google is going to attribute to your company. Reviews at aggregators such as Yelp, SuperPages, or TripAdvisor will also help your ranking, despite not being displayed by Google Pages.
Though employing these methods do nothing to launch your website to the top of Google’s rankings, in some ways it does something much more powerful: It gets people access to your local business who are interested in using it. This directs more high-quality traffic to your site, leading to more conversions and more sales.