How to Rank Highly on Google Places Search
If your business depends on local trade and getting customers ‘through the door‘, for example if you run a photography studio, then it is vital that part of your marketing and SEO strategy is targeting local traffic.
In other words, a “Professional Photographer in England” might have a fantastic website, showcasing their work and describing their services, which is receiving 1000 hits a day. If 900 of those hits are coming from outside of the UK, chances are they’re not really doing much to boost the photographer’s business.
Your local market in terms of the internet universe and traffic is of course much smaller, but it is traffic that can be much more specifically targeted and therefore is much more valuable to your business. SEO local search results are key.
So the next question of course, is how do you drive this specific, local traffic to your site?
One method is to get your website listed on the first page of a Google places search.
More and more people are utilising Google Places to search locally. It’s an easy, convenient and time saving way to find what you need. In turn, it is more important than ever to make sure your business is visible to those potential customers.
Let’s go back to our imaginary Photographer and say he’s based in Brighton. A new mum in the Brighton area searches Google for ‘newborn photography’. She’s presented with page after page of results, so rather than wade through the thousands of irrelevant options; she clicks ‘maps’ to view only the results in her area. In moments, she has a list of potential photographers, their contact details, and directions to their studios. This is why every business that relies on local trade should take an interest on how their website ranks as a place (SEO local search), not just as a generic search result.
With that in mind, here are my top tips on how to improve your SEO strategy for local search by making sure your site ranks highly on Google Places.
Fill in your listing on Google Places
Obviously, before you can rank highly on Google maps, you need to be listed for SEO local listings. Just as you will have (hopefully!) submitted your website to Google Search, you need to submit it as a ‘place’. Go to Google Places and click on the link to claim your listing. (You will need a valid Google account to do so.)
Be sure to complete your listing as fully as possible.
Add your business to the relevant category. Make your business description detailed, keyword rich but where keywords are only used in context (keyword ‘stuffing’ may result in rejection), and above all else, ensure the content is quality, relevant and unique.
Use every opportunity to include your URL, plus links to any social networks you are active on. Connect your map to your existing Google Profile for added continuity and credibility.
Dress your listing up with photos of your premises and/or product photography if appropriate. Photos are particularly important parts of the listing, as those without are often considered incomplete by Google and often disregarded by searchers.
Ensure your website is optimised for Local Search
Start by making sure your site complies with Google’s guidelines regarding content, design, quality & technical compliance.
Optimise each page within your site to show your location. This could be done via Meta tags, page content, and certainly your ‘contact’ or ‘about’ pages should contain your geographic location either in text or map form. Also on at least one page, you should quote your full address and contact details, which is just good business as well as SEO practice.
Using keyword rich anchor text, link to your Google Map in your website footer. This will ensure it shows on every page on your site, and also serves as a very useful tool for your visitors, as well as giving your business extra credibility.
Promote your Google Map and Profile on your blog and social networks – you can use keyword rich text links or embed the map itself.
Ask your satisfied Customers to leave you a Review
Great reviews are obviously a credit to your business and show it to be trusted, reliable and credible. Google loves them for SEO local listings too, and the more quality reviews you have, the higher you will rank. In addition to reviews via Google Maps, Google also factors in results from other sites such as Insiderpages.com, TripAdvisor.com & Citysearch.com, so aim to build a strong portfolio of reviews across several networks.
Build Your Backlinks from Local Directories
If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you’ll know by now the importance of backlinks to a successful website. When you’re targeting local traffic, you need to target local backlinks too. Submit your site to credible local directories – being listed on them gains you authority, and consequently more prominence in the eyes of Google.
Again, when completing each directory listing, be as full and informative as you can. Use keywords wisely and create current, unique content for each one.
By following these steps you can start to target traffic that will hopefully boost your revenue rather than just your page views. Good luck!
You might also be interested in…
The SoLoMo Revolution
Connecting with customers at at a hyperlocal level is also becoming increasingly important now with the advent of ‘Social Local Mobile’ or SoLoMo technology. As more and more people are using their mobile phones to access information ‘on the go’, the potential for local businesses to make use of the latest technology, for example to send offers to people as they pass a shop is huge. Find out why Google wants you to ‘GoMo-bile’ here.
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