What is Google Places?
As you probably already know, small businesses are always searching for inexpensive ways to promote their businesses and attract new customers. One advertising avenue that is open to all businesses is to have a Google Places page.
When local consumers search for local products and services online, businesses can show up high in the search results with a well-optimized Google Places page.
According to Google, one in five searches includes a “location,” which prompted them to create Google Local. In July 2010, Google Local was renamed as Google Places.
Just as the Yellow Pages once listed services according to their locations, Google Places compiles lists of local businesses that offer the services and products that consumers search for online.
Therefore, having a claimed, verified, high-ranking Google Places listing is now crucial to every small business’ local success.
Google Places in a Nutshell
Google Places (http://www.google.com/places/) is a free service that is a part of the Google search engine that focuses specifically on businesses and their locations. It links to Google Maps and displays a list of companies in the area that offer services or products based on the user’s search terms.
For instance, if a search is made for bookstores in a specific location, all of the listed bookstores within that area will be marked on a Google Map with short reviews and often pictures and/or videos related to the business.
Google Places pages are usually generated automatically for any business that has an online presence, such as a company website. They are also generated for businesses that are already listed in other online directories such as the Yahoo directory, Bing Local, and others.
These listings are considered as “citations” and are very important in the ranking factors of Google Places pages. We will talk more about citations in a later section of this report.
When a user performs a search, Google Places listings are displayed and ranked in the search results using four simple factors. Based on these factors, each listing is given a score, which determines where it ranks in the results.
The 4 Key Google Places Ranking Factors:
1. The proximity of the business to the center of the specified search location.
2. The general SEO rating of the business listing in the Google index.
3. The quality of the citations that exist online for the business in all of the local directories.
4. The quantity of the customer reviews that are on the business’s Google Places page.
Once all of these factors have been considered, a page is given its final placement for certain local keyword phrases.
Research has shown that consumers would rather take their business to a local company than make purchase online. However, they always go online first to actually “find” a local company to do business with.
While they’re there, they also read comments from other consumers about these companies to help them make a decision.
For instance, someone in Los Angeles needs a plastic surgeon may go to Google and type in “Los Angeles Cosmetic Surgeon” and a list of cosmetic surgeons in Los Angeles will come up in the Google Places results.