Thursday, November 10, 2011

How To: Rank Better in Google's Local Listings

Want to reach millions of Google users, quickly and for free? Try Google Places, the latest incarnation of Google
’s local business listings. It’s extremely easy to setup and use; however, improving your business listing’s ranking on and Google Maps often requires a bit of work. Here is our step by step guide to creating and optimizing your listing:

1) Claim your listing within Google Places. If your business does not have an existing listing, you can create one using your Google account. Depending on your industry, this process may require you to request a postcard through regular mail in order to verify your physical address. Don’t wait to start the verification process as it can take several weeks! 

2) Update your listing. Once you’ve verified ownership of your listing, you should update the listing’s content. Be sure to fill out every field and to post great pictures and videos of your business. One tactic to avoid is keyword stuffing in your business name or even using the same keyword multiple times. Google has been known to suspend listings that use these tactics. 

3) Create online citations. OK, so you’ve done the above but you’re still not ranking as well as you’d like. What now? Create some online citations! Citations are external business listings that Google uses to establish your existence and authority. Make sure your business name, address, phone number, and website URL appear consistently across any external listing. We recommend starting with Internet yellow pages, ratings sites, blogs, and online newspapers. 

4) Ask for customer reviews. Ask happy customers to post reviews about your business. Great reviews will not only improve your ranking but inform potential customers on the value your business provides. 

5) Don’t neglect your website. Be sure to include the same business name, address, and phone number on your website! A well optimized website that ranks highly in organic search is another component to ranking well in Google’s local listings. Are you unsure of your website’s PageRank or Meta information? Contact us and we’ll be happy to offer you a free website assessment. 

If you’re still not ranking as well as you’d like, it’s important to remember it’s not an exact science; Google is constantly experimenting with their local ranking algorithm and ranking improvements can take time. That said, we’ve seen great results following the above tactics. If you’d like some help with this process, The Plum Tree Group offers local business listing optimization as one of our marketing services. Contact us today to find out how we can work together.