Business Speaker on Google Places
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational keynote speaker whose topics include optimizing Google Places for local businesses and marketing. He’s a leading authority on self-employment and the author of Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed (2011, Wiley). The 47th chapter of this award-winning book (2012 Small Business Book Awards) is entitled Optimizing Google Places (in Part 4 of the book: Populate Internet Properties) and is included below for your review. The book has a total of 80 short chapters, each ending with an Implementation Checklist. Also, Patrick’s perspective on Google Places and the opportunity it provides to local small businesses and self-employed service professionals is summarized below.
Visit Patrick’s video blog and subscribe to be notified of future videos by clicking the button below.
Past clients include …
Recent speaking destinations include …
Keynote Speech about Local Business Marketing
Google Places is the platform that includes a map with local business listings when Google users search for location-based services. It represents an enormous opportunity for local businesses because it delivers first-page search results, and that can deliver massive search engine traffic and increased businesses. Turns out, there are simple things local businesses can do to optimize their Google Places listing. Patrick has an entire chapter in his book devoted to the topic and he can weave his keynote presentations with the information local businesses need to know, leaving your attendees educated and empowered to leverage the opportunity themselves.
Chapter 47: Optimize Google Places
Is your business listed on Google Places?
What’s Google Places? Well, if you search for something on Google, quite often you’ll find a map at the top of the search results with upside-down red teardrop-shaped icons all over it (labeled A, B, C, etc.). And right beside that map, you’ll find seven businesses listed, corresponding to the teardrops. That’s Google Places. It’s also been referred to as Google Local. The idea is to show relevant businesses that match search queries for local businesses, and also to show exactly where those businesses are located. But what happens if there are more than seven businesses that are relevant? What determines which businesses show up first, second, and third as Google Places?
Google uses an algorithm to determine the order in which the businesses are listed. The Google Places algorithm is not the same as the algorithm for regular search results but it’s an algorithm nonetheless. That means you now have to optimize your business for two Google algorithms, not one. First, you have to optimize your website for placement in regular search results—this is called search engine optimization (SEO), which we covered in Chapters 29, 30, 31, and 32. Second, you have to optimize your business for placement in the Google Places results, which is the subject of this chapter.
We’ll start by reviewing the three criteria for the Google Places algorithm that Google has identified publicly: location, relevance, and prominence.
Location: If the searcher includes a location name in the search query, Google will look for listings closest to that location. If no location is entered, Google will look for listings closest to the location of the searcher (determined by analyzing the internet protocol – or IP – address of the searcher).
Relevance: Based on the keywords entered into the search query, Google will look for the most relevant listings. Relevance is determined by the title of your business listing in Google Places and the description. (We’ll look at this more closely later in the chapter.)
Prominence: Google will present the most prominent listings first. For museums, as an example, Google knows which museums are most prominent. But what about small businesses? There’s an opportunity here, so keep reading!
Let’s talk about the tricks to gaining better placement in Google Places results. Let’s say you own an Italian restaurant named simply “Mario’s.” You’d be much better off adding a couple more keywords to your Company/Organization name. For example, “Mario’s Italian Pizzeria.” Those keywords will help you rank for searches including “Italian” and/or “pizzeria.” If you add keywords to your Company/Organization name on Google Places, be sure to update your website and other online listings with the same keywords. Google likes consistency. You may even wish to file a DBA (doing business as) at your local county clerk’s office to make it official. As long as your keywords are consistent among your various online listings, the extra keywords will definitely help your ranking in Google Places.
You can’t do much with your address. It is what it is. And I strongly discourage getting PO boxes in different cities to artificially accumulate duplicate references of your business. If you legitimately have offices in different locations, fine; include them all in your Google Places listing. (If you have only one location and would like to enhance your online reach, refer to Chapter 31 for a better approach.)
Make sure your listing in Google Places is complete. In particular, check that you’re in the right category. Fill in all the hours-of-operation and payment information and write a good keyword-rich description. Upload pictures and videos if possible. Google likes complete listings. Build a big online presence. Google looks at citations of your business across the Internet as a gauge of your prominence. Make sure all the citations have the same business address and phone number. Although we talk about many strategies to build online exposure in this book, publishing articles online (Chapter 52) might be the fastest way to get a lot of citations quickly. Get reviews and ratings. Google is trying to push into the review business. They want to beat Yelp at their own game. If you have a bunch of good reviews, that will contribute to a better ranking. As with Yelp, you won’t benefit with Google Places by accumulating fake reviews. Doing that is asking for problems.
Google is tight-lipped about their algorithms, and for good reason. They don’t want people manipulating the system. It’s impossible to know exactly what the impact of the above suggestions will be, but they’ll all play a small role in getting you to the top of the Google Places list. More than anything else, build the most complete business listing you can. It benefits everyone.
Optimize Google Places: Implementation Checklist
Create an account on Google Places.
Try to incorporate keywords in your title.
Ensure your title is consistent elsewhere.
Fill out as much information as possible.
Upload photos and videos where possible.
Accumulate reviews from past clients.
Build a massive online identity.
End of chapter – click here to buy the book on Amazon.