Optimise Google Places for targeted traffic – but do it now. Honestly, the results can make a startling change in traffic, customers and leads.
When searching for a local business, what’s often the very first thing you see? Other than promoted links? It’s a fair bet that’s going to be Google places for business – Google’s directory of local results made large. Making search results more relevant to a geographical area, when searchers are searching for a service in a particular town it gives a much expanded view of both your business and your competitors.
Optimise Google Places For Extra Visibility
Localised searching will often feature these results above everything else: Here’s the result in our local town for a local hair salon – twin results on the front page and double the chances of clicking through. I can’t overstate just how important it is to rank highly in Google places and it’s often the first result you’ll see before the organic listings. But the good stuff doesn’t stop there; for added cream these results are also carried across much of the Google ecosystem, including Google Plus, maps and Google Earth. In other words, multiple ways to find your business all rolled into one sweet package.
How do I get my business signed up to this sweet business sharing?
If you already have a gmail account, you’re pretty much there (honestly – how many of you haven’t?). If not, go on and get yourself signed up – once done, it pretty much signs you into anything Google related.
If not, head on over to https://www.google.com/local/add/ and follow through the simple steps.
Next, head on over to Google Places http://www.google.co.uk/places, log into your account and enter your business details. Google will send you a postcard in the mail, containing a PIN number. This takes a while (3 weeks or so…), so get in there and get it done as soon as possible!
Using descriptions to optimise Google Places
Welcome to the wonderful world of keywords – if you want your business to rank for ‘organic trousers’, you need to mention ‘organic trousers’ within the description of your business. Don’t go mad – submit a detailed description, be as detailed as possible, and mention your keywords three or four times.
An ideal description will number a minimum of about 300 words. Use the keywords as part of the sentence. The more complete your information, the more highly you are likely to rank. This should form the backbone of your structure when you optimise Google Places.
- How many words? Enough to describe your business in a compelling way that will entice visitors to click to your website.
- Mention your keywords a handful of times, near the top and mention it once at the bottom – DO NOT KEYWORD STUFF! A handful isn’t 20!
- Don’t copy your website verbatim – duplicate content’s a nasty business.
- Above all, be natural – write your description for human beings, not a search engine.
- Complete all the standard information, even if you don’t feel there’s a benefit.
NOTE There’s actually a little controversy about whether or not keywords will help, depending on your source. I did a little digging and I keep coming across articles like this that state it may well help. As per usual, Google pulls the rug every few months, so it may all change again!
Ensuring your Google Places contact and address details are identical across the web
Your address and contact details should be identical across the web – not just Places and your website, but throughout directory entries and indeed everywhere you publish your business. Gooogle is watching over your shoulder and analysing your data, whilst building a picture of your business; it’s only a matter of time before this extends to organs.
Important lesson to be learnt: be cohesive, be regular. But please remember, don’t be giving the same description content and titles across the web. It’s spammy spam spam.
Appealing, sumptuous images
As stated before, the average human being is a visual beast, fond of sparkle and glitz. Images should be the most enticing you can manage. As an example, if you run a restaurant, take well lit photographs of your interior and exterior and highlight your food – the chefs special, artfully arranged on a plate should make the odd visitors stomach squeak and bubble. Make them feel hungry and above all else, make your restaurant the place where they want to eat.
Reviews are the new word of mouth
Anybody with an account (which pretty much includes everybody) can leave a review. If you get a certain number (it varies slightly around the 10 mark), you stand a chance of getting star ratings directly below your listing.
As always, they can also leave bad reviews! Sadly, people are at their most motivated when they have something negative to say. Reviews can be disputed when they are plainly untrue, or come from a competitor determined to drag your business down, which happens on a surprisingly regular basis.
The only way past this motivational brick wall is to encourage reviews from your current client base. In the salon, we have a couple of framed a4 prints, extolling the virtues of reviewing us. Other way to do this can include:
- Simply asking – if you’ve got a good client base, most are happy to help out. Ask them at the end!
- Include a request on your loyalty cards
- If you send out a newsletter, put in a line and a link out to your Google Places account
- Include a request in your email signature.
- Ask across your social media channels
The social aspects of Google Places
Google Places is accompanied by Google Plus. Plus is a social network and massively under-utilised by the average business. It allows a lot more control than a Facebook business page, as you can post and interact directly with your business page, rather than simple post/question/answer/comment responses.
This allows a huge amount of control over business branding and customer interactions. More importantly, it’s a fantastic resource for driving traffic towards your website. Increased visibility is the pay-off, by building followers and taking part in groups. If you have a blog (and you should have!), it’s a great resource for gaining readership and creating potential leads. Why not start off a group for your area?
Summing Up: How To Optimise Google Places For Targeted Traffic
Very few bricks and mortar businesses properly optimise Google Places for targeted traffic. It is actually a very simple process and can have huge payoffs in exposure across a localised geographical area, in many cases more so than a website search result. Use it as part of your business ecosystem, from website to social media campaigns.
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