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How can I get my rankings higher in Google Places?

Brian Petti, Cleveland Website Designer

Did you know that 1 in every 5 searches done on Google is related to a location? Google Places is becoming more and more important and relevant for small and local businesses to get ranked and noticed online. There are many factors that contribute in ranking higher in Google Places, and also a few things to avoid doing that may hurt your ranking status.

What TO do:

  • Google LOVES information and data so make sure and completely fill out your business profile. There are many businesses out there that haven’t even claimed their business on Google Places, let alone filled out all the information.
  • Make sure your address is in or around the location you are trying to rank for. For example, you will not be able to rank in Columbus, OH if the address you entered is in Cleveland, OH.
  • Be sure to choose the right categories for your business. This will help Google rank your business for the right general search terms and also help you avoid penalties for choosing categories that don’t relate to you business.
  • Reviews aren’t directly tied to higher rankings, meaning just because you have many reviews your site will automatically rank higher. They are what potential customers want to see though. They can influence whether or not a visitor will choose to click on your website compared to others. These extra clicks may then result in favoring from Google which may raise your ranking. In summary many experts agree that reviews are important to have so be sure customers have a pleasant experience with your business. Read what the experts said about customer reviews.
  • Having your business data consistent across all websites can help boost rankings. This implies that your business is credible.
  • Traditional SEO factors still apply to Google Places. Be sure and try to get inbound links to your site with the location in the anchor text.

What NOT to do:

  • Do NOT create multiple Google Places pages for different locations that have the same phone number. This can kill your listing. Also, be sure and use a local phone number with an area code and not an (800) number as your primary number.
  • Do not hide your address on your listing page. This may seem obvious, but if you hide your address there is no real reason to be in Google Places.
  • Don’t have multiple Google Places pages with the same address within the same account. It is ok if you have multiple accounts with the same address – for example a doctor’s office (multiple practices within the same building). Also, make sure the address entered is a physical address and not a PO Box address.
  • Negative ratings should not directly affect your ranking, but will affect how potential customers view your business. Be sure to try and solve any issues to avoid negative publicity.

Like traditional SEO, the factors that affect local rankings are constantly changing. These are some of the more consistent factors that affect local rankings, but not everything that goes into ranking well in Google Places. Keep in mind that nobody knows Google’s algorithm. Experts may agree and disagree about different factors that help rankings. The best way to get results is to measure, make changes, and measure again to see if there is an improvement. For more information on ranking factors for Google Places written by the experts, visit David Mihm’s Local Research Ranking Factors.