You may have noticed sometime in the past 12 months that for “local searches” your website that used to appear on page 1 of google results has slipped back to page 2 (or gone from page 2 to page 3 etc). This is because Google now lists “Google Places” results first on page 1, with organic results following that – often starting on page 2. “Google Places” is the google map based listings of businesses.
When I say “local searches” I mean searches that include a town or city name in the search for a business type e.g “Taupo Motels”. The impact of this has both positive and negative effects on small businesses. For businesses that fit the location and business type criteria it may mean you now consistently appear on page 1 of the results now. For others that had put a lot of effort into having a well optimised website with strong online marketing it may mean you have slipped down the list onto a lower ranked page.
So if this is now the case, what can you do now to influence your rankings? Here are some tips to get the most out of “local searches” and Google Places:
- Make sure you have a Google Places business listing AND you have claimed it as the business owner so you can edit the content.
- Once you have access to edit your google places listing, make sure you complete all aspects of the content – including an accurate location on the map and choose all 5 category types (e.g for a motel the categories may be: motel, accommodation, motor inn, family accommodation, conference venue). The categories you enter will determine what results your business will appear in so it’s important to make the most of these and pick them wisely. You should have a 100% completed listing, so add your own business photos and YouTube videos too.
- Google Places pulls in content from other websites too – like business content from finda.co.nz or reviews from Tripadvisor, even pricing and booking links from accommodation booking websites. So having a comprehensive online marketing strategy will pay off here too.
- Use the additional free tools on Google Places like the Offer Coupons to help your listing stand out more and provide a mechanism for deals.
You’re probably also wondering, why bother with SEO on my own website now if Google Places results come up first anyway? Well, don’t give up on SEO! It’s still vitally important to rank as highly as possible in organic results and local searches aren’t the only way people will find your website through google (not to mention Google isn’t the only search engine).
For those new to Google Places, this video below is a useful reference for the key areas to cover in the content.