Some Tips about “Google Places” and Other Directories

If you want better search engine results (and more clicks, and more business), and you haven’t paid attention to “Google Places”, you need to do so—and it goes a lot deeper than just “claiming” your page.

Here are a few snippets from Google’s introduction of Google Places in April, 2010:

“We launched Place Pages last September for more than 50 million places around the world to help people make more informed decisions about where to go, from restaurants and hotels to dry cleaners and bike shops, as well as non-business places like museums, schools and parks. Place Pages connect people to information from the best sources across the web, displaying photos, reviews and essential facts, as well as real-time updates and offers from business owners.

Four million businesses have already claimed their Place Page on Google through the Local Business Center, which enables them to verify and supplement their business information to include hours of operation, photos, videos, coupons, product offerings and more. It also lets them communicate with customers and get insights that help them make smart business decisions.”

“. . .we’ve also added the ability for business owners to post real-time updates to their Place Page. You might want to promote a sale, a special event or anything else that you want customers to know right now, and this feature lets you communicate that directly to your customers. You can also provide extra incentive by adding coupons, including ones specially formatted for mobile phones.”

“One out of five searches on Google are related to location, and we want to make sure that businesses are able to be found and put their best foot forward.”

[It should be noted that “one out of five” translates to over 2.6 Billion searches a month, and increasing 50% per year.]

You can see that a good Google Places listing could provide a valuable bump in your search engine ranking and in your ability to reach and interact with prospects and patients.  It’s so important that Google Places has become a marketing niche all on its own, with “local marketing SEO” consultants that do nothing but help businesses use it properly.

This post will focus on a couple of things you can do to get your “Places” page really working for you, assuming you’ve already claimed it.  It will really help your website marketing efforts pay off better.

If you haven’t claimed it, or want more information on proper setup, watch our video “Google Places”.  It’s listed under “Categories” on the right.

In that video, we make the point that it’s important to be consistent in how you list your name, address and phone—“NAP” in industry jargon.  This post expands on that concept.

The issue is that when Google crawls the web, and your website, it can read “123 Main Street” as something different than “123 Main St.”  It will even see “123 Main St.” as different than “123 Main St”.

Same thing with phone numbers:  “(714) 555-5555” will be seen as being different than “714-555-5555”, which is different than “(714) 555 5555”, and so on.

Sure, Google is getting smarter all the time and eventually this might not matter as much.  But for something so simple, just trust me and do it, okay?  (Off my soapbox now, sorry.)

One other thing about phone numbers that seems to matter– if you have an 800 or other toll-free number, show your local number as the main one, with the toll-free one as an additional number.

Of course, your name matters, too.  If your name is “Honest PPC”–hope it isn’t, ‘cause that’s our name– don’t show “Honest PPC” in one place, and “Honest PPC, LLC” in another, and “Honest PPC LLC” in another.

So, first of all, look at your website, and be sure you’re consistent throughout your site.  Then, do it the same way on your “Places” page, and your “YELP” page, and your Chamber of Commerce listing, and on and the other fifty or a hundred directory-type places you ought to get yourself listed in.

And speaking of that, even if you’re not up for creating all those listings, you ought to at least Google your business name, and check your listing in any directory and review sites that come up, and correct any listing that isn’t 100% the way you want it.

And speaking of the “fifty or a hundred directory-type places you ought to get yourself listed in”–  it’s an annoying and boring process, but it’s important.  Every directory in which you are listed is another chance to be found, and an additional “strengthener” of your search rankings. Local SEO consultants have proved the effectiveness of this “local directory” tactic over and over again.

It’s possible to do it manually, but you’re probably looking at four or five full days, minimum, to find a hundred directories, and do the listings. There are some directories of directories, but they focus on the top forty or fifty, and won’t help you with the niche and industry-specific directories that can be quite valuable.

Let us know if you have any questions, or if you would like us to help with any of the above.

As always, talk back to us on your experiences and any additional information you may have!