Just when we were getting comfortable with local search, Google has changed the game once again with the launch of their updated Place Search feature. This new kind of local search organizes information around specific business locations making it easier for users to compare different places when entering a search query and ultimately deciding which business to go to.
If you've conducted a local search (e.g. "plumber in san diego") within the last week or so, you may have noticed a number of changes to the results page, including:
- Elimination of the "7-Pack" Google Map listings at the very top
- Ranking algorithm for local listings has been updated (i.e. your business may have changed ranking position)
- Google Places pages have much greater visibility
- Local results with more information (i.e. third party review sites)
- Information is grouped to make it easier to digest and compare
- New link for "Places" in the left-hand panel of the search results page so you can switch to these results whenever you want
- Google map now on the right side above the paid search listings, which scrolls as you scroll down the page
Here are the top ten things you can do to optimize your Google Place listing:
Step 1. Make sure you select relevant Place categories
Step 2. Use long and short tail keywords and avoid content duplication
Step 3. Create customized fields and complete business descriptions using relevant keywords
Step 4. Integrate photos and videos into your listing
Step 5. Fill out every applicable field possible, including hours of operation, payment methods and your service area
Step 6. Use Google Places posts to keep information current
Step 7. Encourage online customer reviews
Step 8. Respond to reviews through Google Places
Step 9. Make sure your Google Places flag is in the correct spot on the map
Step 10. Add coupons and experiment with Google Tags
As you can see, simply adding a listing and basic information doesn't cut it anymore. It's always been the case (even before the change) that a well optimized Google Places listing gets better visibility, but those who have followed through are rewarded today with even increased visibility.
We will be hosting a special webinar on November 23 at 8 AM PST where we will discuss what you need to do to ensure your local listing is optimized effectively. Register here.