The Value of Google Places for Local Business and Map Ranking Factors

So as search engine marketers, we all know the value of Google’s local 10 pack, 7 pack, 3 pack, whatever you want to call it. But just how valuable is it and what are the factors that search engines use to determine local ranking? This is all what we will talk about in today’s entry.

For those of you who may not know me yet, my name is Matt Parks. I’m an online marketing consultant who helps small, medium and even global companies build appropriate online marketing strategies and enhance their brand awareness through competitive traditional and non-traditional advertising techniques.

Now for what you’ve been waiting for… the good stuff…

So, you may ask… Just how valuable are the local map results for my company? Well there is no simple answer to that question. Each company should have a custom built strategy. For instance, if you own a local Thai restaurant and want to increase your daily foot traffic, local listings will greatly help your efforts. On the other hand, you own a specialty shoe store that does 100{1cc8e45cbcdeae64cb989adba369b6a3f691ff03978596e6760cecf20fed8ab4} of your business online, local listings are just not for you. Google and other search engines developed their local results pages to assist users in finding small business owners with brick and mortar shops, retail stores or restaurants, and get quick information about them – such as hours, short reviews and even menu items and sale dates.

So, we’ve whittled a few of you out of the mix now. What’s next? How do I get premium ranking with these listings?

Ahhhhh. So you want to know the magic trick huh? Well, first you need to have a listing. You can create one by logging into your Google account if you have one, and selecting the local business center icon under your settings. If you don’t have one there, just type into Google: “local business center” and follow the easy to use, step by step listing creation wizard. When creating your listing, it is very important to make sure all the information you provide is correct, including phone number and address as before you finish, you will be required to verify by telephone or snail mail that in fact the listing is yours. Now on to the pot of gold. Lets go over the top ten ranking factors for local listings…

1: GENERAL IMPORTANCE OF CLAIMING LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING – You have to have a listing first.
2: LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING ADDRESS IN CITY OF SEARCH – The closer you are to the IP, the better.
3: ASSOCIATING LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING WITH PROPER CATEGORIES – This is a must, create new categories if you need to, just don’t try and keyword stuff.
4: PRODUCT / SERVICE KEYWORD IN LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING TITLE – Use your correct full name, but add a keyword if it fits right. ie: Garden Palace – Chinese Restaurant
5: PROXIMITY OF ADDRESS TO CITY CENTROID – Don’t use a fake address, but if you are corporate, a UPS box (no P.O. box, only physical address) near the middle of town couldn’t hurt
6: PRODUCT/SERVICE KEYWORDS IN LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING DESCRIPTION – Keep it short and sweet.. Remember, you are trying to appeal to the user/searcher.
7: LOCATION KEYWORD IN LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING TITLE/DESCRIPTION – Garden Palace of Nashville – Chinese Restaurant
8: ASSOCIATING PHOTOS/VIDEOS WITH THE LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING – Not as important, but try and at least upload a logo.
9: PRODUCT / SERVICE IN LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING CUSTOM FIELDS – Undetermined how much this helps, but they are provided, so use them… But don’t OVERUSE them and stuff em’ full of keywords.
10: ASSOCIATING LOCAL AREA CODE AS PRIMARY LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING NUMBER – Local numbers perform much better, may not help with ranking, but it does with consumer trust.

An extra bonus: Make sure information in your listing is consistent across the board.. ie: YellowPages.com, CitySearch.com, etc. as Google uses these Data Sources to add trustworthiness to your listing and gives you ranking bonuses due to it being more “relevant”.

Well that’s about it.