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How and Why to Use Google Place Pages to Boost SEO

// November 18, 2010 // Advertising, Branding, Public Relations, Social Media // 10 Comments

More than 20 percent of searches on Google are from people looking for information on a businesses location.

If your business is one that relies on local clientele, then this is not to be overlooked.
For a long time now, Google has given business owners the option of listing their business’ information so that when someone searched for a business, a list of local results would show up and yours would have the possibility of being included.  These showed up next to a map that marked each of their locations.

Lately, Google has made some updates to this tool known as Place Pages that inspired me to share a bit about them and how businesses can use Place Pages to boost their SEO.

If you haven’t already explored a Google Place page, go ahead and do a search for a local business, let’s say “San Diego Italian restaurant.”  The listings with the red pushpin next to them are Google’s local results.  To the right of these listings, you’ll see a star rating system followed by a link called “Place page.”  Pick one and click on it.

How to find Google Place pages

You’ll see that the business owner has the opportunity to provide information about their business in a website-like format including the following:
• Address
• Website
• Description
• Categories your business falls under
• Store hours
• Payment information
• Photos
• Videos
• And any other additional details such as parking, dog-friendly, etc.

Notice too that when you get your search results page, some listings also have a cluster of external links leading to review sites.

Google Place page reviews

This means that as a business owner, you have some work ahead of you. Reviews are automatically pulled into your page from other sites including Yelp!, CitySearch and Insiderpages.com for example. Unfortunately, you don’t have control over which reviews show.  So as if I haven’t given you enough homework already, be sure to treat review sites as part of your Google Place page management. It’s your job as a business owner to encourage good reviews from satisfied customers and to manage negative reviews as well.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the additional work Google just gave you, keep in mind that they are making these changes to better the experience for the user. , The new Place pages makes it so that people searching for the most basic information about a company, can find it all in a one-stop click. It’s pulling together the best results for what that person is looking for and letting them see all the most relevant information, without ever having to leave the search results page and without ever going to your business’ website. And herein lies the problem for business owners, because between Place pages and the many aggregator and review sites, your website is getting lost.

Therefore, my biggest takeaway is that you must treat your Google Place page as another website.  It needs your attention to be monitored and optimized.

If your place doesn’t have a Google Place page, you’ve already fallen behind. There’s only a slim chance you’re website will show up above these pages and, quite frankly, making your own Place page is the easiest SEO you can do for yourself.

Here’s how you get started

Claim your business:
Go to- http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter

Once there, simply enter your phone number and carry on from there.  Keep in mind as you fill in the information that your goal is to succinctly describe your business using researched keywords where they fit naturally. If it looks spammy to you, Google won’t like it and nor will searchers. You also must earn the trust of the searcher – sell them with your great images, useful videos or honest description. Don’t try too hard, just be thorough. You can read more about the factors that affect your Place page ranking in David Mihm’s Location Search Ranking Factors Survey.

Lastly, remember that your Place page is something that must be managed, not simply completed. Just as I say with all SEO, you’re never done.  It is important to monitor you Place page analytics (Google provides these to you, similar to how they do with your website’s analytics) and make changes accordingly so that the Place page can best benefit your business.

    author bio

    Reputation Supervisor. Big fan of the media relations biz. She likes the chase for the story and loves the catch. When she's not working the media or buried in a good read, you'll find her somewhere outside - running, hiking or just hanging out with her pup.

    10 Comments

    1. Nice post Lizzie. We frequently hear from merchants wondering how they can promote their businesses on insiderpages and google and also asking advice for how to respond to negative reviews. I’ve summarized the advice I usually give to business owners on our blog here http://blog.insiderpages.com/2010/07/28/how-to-handle-negative-reviews-of-your-business-on-insider-pages/

    2. Thanks for sharing that link, Eric! It’s great information for people unsure of what to do. Reviews can be tricky and VERY helpful at the same time!

    3. I suggest you do not create a Google Places account. Google places may help you at the beginning. But, If you ever come accross a customer (or competition) who gets mad for any un-justified reason, writes a bad review for you in the Google Places, you business will be hurt. Google is crazy. They charge to promote your business with pay-per-click ads and free Google places ad. then they hurt your business with the Google Places reviews. They claim google places promotes your business. Google places will hurt you more than help. Once you create a Google places account Google will not let you remove the Google places account. You cannot email them. If you know a way of removing your Google Places account let me now. Google’s Moto was ‘Do no Evil’. Now their Moto should be ‘Do Evil’.

    4. Thanks a lot for this wonderful post. Being a local business owner in Maryland, this information helps a lot.

    5. This info. really means a lot to me. My listing looks like it was disapproved. I was on the very top in a few days then after that Google remove it for some reason and up until now it is still not available.

    6. Joe -
      You’re right in that providing information to Google also takes some of the control out of your hands but if one negative review can hurt your business, just think how a few positive reviews can help it. I appreciate you providing the warning to others and hope that business owners will consider the positives as well as the possible negatives that come along with any social interface.

    7. Very good post.
      As an update from a week or so ago, Google Places is no longer pulling reviews from other sites.

    8. To get to page 1 of Google demands certain standards be met, and to get an organic high Google PR demands even more standards, but at the same time are Google, (and all the other search engines) being duplicitous by giving page 1 rankings to those who can afford to pay for them, irrespective of their SEO standards.

    9. Thanks for the SEO tips!

    10. People often get worried about getting negative reviews here, but if every review you have is 5 stars and terribly positive it looks a bit suspicious. Don’t be afraid of bad reviews, just make sure you have plenty of good experiences to weigh against them.