3 Things You Should do to Right NOW for Success in Google Places!

By Bekka Palmer

With all of the changes to SERPs for searches with local intent, you not only need to be concerned with ranking, but also in how your place page looks when a visitor lands there. The following tips may seem like no-brainers, but a number of top local listings fail to deliver on their place page. The better optimized your place page, the better luck you will have converting a searcher into an actual customer.

The following tips assume you as a local business owner have claimed your Google Places listing, and ensured the information is correct.

1. Update your photos…

Photos in Google Places

Don’t just add photos, add great photos. If you are a restaurant and your food photographs were taken in dim light with a camera phone from 2007, you are going to want to upgrade. It might even be worth it to hire a professional photographer to do them. The photos are a huge selling point on your Google Place page, and the only thing on the page you have creative freedom over. Everything on the Google Places page is in a set position and order, but at least you can include really fantastic photos to stand out from the crowd. Even if you are not a restaurant, make sure to include an image of your logo, and good shots of the inside and outside of your business and a few sample products. Don’t be afraid to delete all of the images and reorder them so the best one is first; this is the one that shows up on SERPs, so you want it to be the most representative of your products.

2. Get reviews…

Reviews in Google Places

Honestly, a five star review looks a bit sketchy too me, if I see five stars I immediately become suspicious that the company is gaming the review sites, so a four or four-and-a-half is an ideal number. Every company has had at least one unhappy customer with a Yelp account. Speaking of Yelp, those reviews are once again showing up in Google Places. Yelp, however, tends to hide reviews from users who have less than two friends and who have only left one or two reviews.

Anyway, it is not illegal or frowned upon to remind your loyal customers that their reviews will help your business grow. Do not give out incentives for reviews, but it doesn’t hurt to create a small flyer or send an email with links to your profile on Yelp, Insider Pages and CitySearch. Happy customers with an account on any of those websites are usually more than willing to post a review and a good story about your business. I’m not saying spam your customers in order to get 400 reviews, but at least 50 reviews will be sufficient to create a diverse representation of your business.

3. Update the title tag on your homepage…

Title tags in SERPs

In the image above you can see the main SERP is pulling in the title tag from the homepage of these local businesses. You could use this for keywords and relevant information about your business, like a neighborhood or food specialty. It looks like you get about 68 characters (including spaces) in the SERP, so choose your words wisely, and keep the important stuff to the left. This is once again an opportunity to stand out. Of course, you could go a lifetime without optimizing the title tag, but you would be missing out on a chance to shine.

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  • Great post! With the changes to Google’s SERPs, Places listing optimization becomes almost as important as site optimization, depending on the business. A really interesting strategy that came from Michael Dorausch (@chiropractic on Twitter) was if you are a business owner and you get a 1 star review, print it out and post it up at your business. That negative review will motivate and rally your most loyal and passionate customers to log on and leave their own $.02.

  • @Bekka – great post! You’re right that these are simple steps that can make a big difference in how prospects respond to a Google map listing. In addition, with the changes to Google local search results, these steps also have an impact on how a listing ranks. Thanks for sharing these helpful insights.

    @Gary – that’s a great suggestion from @chiropractic to print and post a negative review in a company’s office. Another simple and brilliant idea that gets results.