I have been getting some emails regarding Google Places so I decided to share my very own checklist I created for getting top rankings on Google Places. This post is a collection of tested steps that have gotten me top rankings for lots of sites in big markets and smaller markets. I think it is better then all the crap for sale on the internet so check it out and let me know what you think. As always this is a work in progress as Google is always changing things and I will update it as I find new methods to improve ranking.
Google Places Checklist: (complete the list in order!)
01. Claim Listing & complete verification process,
Use a local phone number and address. The closer to the city center as possible is better. Use not only a phone number with the right area code but the right prefix for the area if possible.
02. Fill out listing 100%,
This includes the photo section, videos, services, etc. You get a slight bump if you fill everything out. I really mean 100%!!
Steps 3 through 12………..
03. Wait until you are indexed in Google places before moving on.
This does not mean first page it just means that you are showing up in the Google places section. If you completed the first 2 steps correctly you should be indexed with a couple of days to no more then 3 weeks. If your not then go back and check that you have completed everything correctly.
04. Website optimization.
The only changes you should make as far as the website goes for Google Places is address and services areas. Copy the address exactly as listed in the Google Places listing and add it to the bottom of each page of the website and the website should have some form of a contact us page. On the Contact us page it should be listed in the content of the page also.
**VERY IMPORTANT – EVERYTHING YOU DO FOR GOOGLE PLACES IS ADDRESS CONSISTENCY *
The way you have the address listed in Google Places should be used in the exact format for everything you do online that has an address area. This includes the domain registrar contact information. Google is using the address as a verification that you really are where you say you are so little things like for example if your address is 101 main St and that is how you list it in Google Places but then on another site you make it: 101 main street, Google will see that as a lack of verification. I don’t mean to go on and on but the address issue is a big thing and most every site I optimize has done this wrong. Add a geo sitemap.
05. Once the site has been optimized you should ping every page that you have made changes to. Wait until the new pages are showing indexed in Google before moving on.
Do not be over concerned with this area but if possible you want to hit the 5 mark. The reason for the 5 mark has to do with the rating process. If you have 5 or more reviews that you get a star rating also and this gives a small boost to your listing. DO NOT make fake reviews as Google has hundreds of the best PHD computer science majors and they are employing lots of techniques to determine reviews validity. Any computer you ever use to login to your Google account is recorded and any review posted from that account will be tracked to your Google Places listings. The best way to get real reviews is to just ask your best customers and give them written detailed instructions on how to complete the process. You also do not want to get 5 reviews in one day. Spread it out over a period of time.
07. Link Building,
This factor has always been important for Google Places but with the recent beat testing of mixed Organic within the Places ranking it is going to increase as a factor. The idea is to get backlinks that include your service area and address. Use the service area as the anchor text and then within the article or posting include the address. The number of backlinks you need to do will vary based on the competition.
Note: I have found it very helpful to building back-links to your Google places page using address, business name, phone number, and related keyword phrases.
08. Third Party Directories.
You should be listed in all the major 3rd party directories like merchant circle, city search, etc. You do not have to do the paid listings with any of them. If the directory does not have a free option then skip it.
09. Local citations.
This is one of the most common factors that people miss and it plays a big part in your position within Google Places. You want to be in all the local sites. You may not be able to get an actual link in many of the them but you can in most every case post a citation. All this means is something that mentions your company name and address. The best part of all of this is over time this will help to solidify Organic rankings also so it is worth the time to do this.
10. If you completed the first 9 steps correctly you should see your Google Places listing moving up nicely. If you are in a very competitive area here are some bonus things you can do:
a. Youtube. Create a Youtube account using your business name & service area along with address in your profile. Upload some videos and back-link to them via article marketing.
b. Facebook, Twitter, etc. Use your Facebook & Twitter accounts to reinforce your Google places page by posting links directly to the places page.
c. Press Release. Submit a press release that links directly to your places page.
d. Yahoo Directory, This one is expensive (I think the latest price is $300 a year). Add your site to the Yahoo directory and instead of linking to your site, link to your Google Places page. I have used this with a couple of very competitive niches in big metro markets and it made the listing jump.
11. If you made it this far congrats you should be ranking #1 and you probably think your done…lol, NOPE now the fun can begin if you really want to dominate the market you should go after multiple listings. Yes this can be done and it can be done within the Terms of Service for Google. I am testing some options for this and plan to release a step by step plan for this in the near future.
Here’s couple more quick tips for Google places:
1. go to: http://www.geositemapgenerator.com/ and generate a geo site map as well as a location.xml (both should be uploaded to google webmaster tools)
2. if you’re using wordpress then start using yoast’s wordpress seo plugin as it gives you a lot of control over titles and meta tags to assist you with your onpage seo.
Couple of things that come to mind that will enhance your post are:
- Research your competition well and find out where are their citations coming from and how are they achieving the position you want. You can get help from: hxxp://www.whitespark.ca/tools/local-citation-finder/ or just go manually one by one.
- Submit your site to yahoo and bing webmasters as well as google’s
- Ceate 5 videos, upload to youtube and have your phone number in the video description and/or in title as well as the phrase you’re looking to rank for.
- Geo tag your pictures and videos and only then upload to places.
Avoid keyword stuffing in the categories section. Google has updated their terms and conditions as people have been attempting to game it.
“Categories should say what your business is (e.g. Real Estate), not on what it does (e.g. Appraisals) or things it sells ). This information can be added in your description or as custom attributes” – taken from googles terms and conditions
Avoid keyword stuffing the categories section. If you follow the check-list and do everything naturally you will be fine, do not go all crazy.
We will keep updating this post as we continue to test …………