While a client was successful in ranking organically on the first page of Google, the business was not included in the Google Places listing. This has been a lingering frustration for the client. Why was the business not appearing? To figure out why, we spoke with the Google Places team who provided some guidance.
Fix Your Categories: Google allows you to select up to five categories for your business, with one primary category. We analyzed the results of those companies who are listed on page one of Google Places. Check your categories to determine if that may be the reason why your business is not ranking higher. In this particular case, after several weeks in a new category, there was no difference in the rankings. There was no single category used by all the companies listed, so we went on to look at other factors.
Optimize Your Description: Google Places allows a brief description of your business and uses this to pull up relevant listings close to the searcher’s location. Be sure your description includes those keywords you think potential customers will be using. Those businesses whose names include a keyword have an advantage over those who don’t.
Encourage Reviews Companies with reviews tend to show up higher on Google Places results. This has been confirmed by many SEO experts. While soliciting reviews is against Yelp guidelines, it is allowed by Google, and in fact was encouraged by the Google Places team. It is also important to note that Google Places pulls in reviews from across the web, so the more places your company is listed and can obtain reviews, the better. A study conducted by Bizable revealed that five reviews significantly improved rankings. If those reviews incorporate local keywords, that also helped boost rankings.
Does Google Local Favor Companies Not Already Ranked on Page 1
An article on Moz.com caused us to wonder if something else wasn’t at play with the listings. Could it be that Google’s algorithm favors companies that aren’t appearing on page one of the organic listing? In the example cited in the article, linking the Google Places to a page other than the home page resulted in a higher Google Places listing.
Google Places vs. Google+ Local
One observation from investigating our client’s Google Places problem is that the newer Google+ pages typically rank higher than those operating off the old Google Places dashboard. The latest information from the Google Places team is that by March 2014, all of the old Google Places accounts will be converted over to the new, more robust Google+ platform. Despite the fact that our client has bothGoogle+ account and a Google Places account, the two accounts are not yet integrated. When the merger is complete, the account will be managed from one place, and include all the social features that can help boost rankings.
With local rankings becoming an increasingly important part of search, businesses can’t put their Google Places or Google+ listing on automatic pilot. They need to continue to monitor and optimize their listings to be sure they’re on the map, when it comes to local search. Has the conversion to Google+ hurt your local rankings?