Boost Your Google Places Page
Google is the Search Engine King
Either you live under a rock or don’t own a computer if you’ve never heard of Google. Since you are reading this blog it is safe to assume you know and probably use Google daily. Google Places is a primary resource for local searches, and Places pages are key to helping hotels (and local businesses in general) rank better on Google. Everyone wants to be at the top of the search results for keywords in their industry; it’s where all the action is! Over 50% of all clicks go to the first four organic results on a page, and nearly 70% of searchers don’t even click on the second page.
How to Optimize Your Google Places Page
Every local business has the opportunity to create or claim a Place Page, and there are several factors that influence ranking. From our experience, and the general consensus among various other experts, is that the following factors can have some of the greatest impact on local search rankings:
- Physical address of the business in the city that's being searched
- Has the Google Places listing been claimed and verified by the business owner?
- Is the business associated with relevant categories?
- Volume of traditional structured citations (Internet Yellow Pages, Data Aggregators, etc.)
- Crawlable business name and address match info on Google Places listing
Is Your Business Name the Same?
Google’s goal is to provide searchers with the most relevant and trusted results. An important best practice in optimizing for Google Places listings is to ensure the business name, address and telephone number are correct on the Places page and match what's listed on the business's website verbatim. This means that if your address on your website spells out the word "Street" you should not list your address as "St" on Google Places. Providing a link to the actual business website is necessary. As search engine spiders crawl the Places page and read the link to the business page it will pull the meta-description into the blended organic search results. The listing on the search results page will then display even more information: the title tag, link, meta description, address/phone number and even reviews.
Fill in the Blanks
Optimize the Google Places page by filling in as much information as possible. A more complete page will help it rank higher than lesser-filled Places pages. When filling in descriptions be sure to use specialized keywords a searcher may be entering to find your business. The categories are just as important. For example, with a hotel you would want to enter all facets of the hospitality industry beyond being a hotel/motel. Categories such as wedding venue, meeting space, and conference venue are extremely relevant and will help your business appear in the search results of those targeted keywords.
Review Your Reviews
Another important section of Google’s local search-blended results page is the reviews. Google will pull in reviews from several other local search sites in addition to reviews left on the Google Place Page. On the results page at the bottom of the listing, reviews from sites like TripAdvisor, Priceline and Yelp (just to name a few) will appear along with the number of reviews per site. It is extremely crucial to have your business listed on these local search sites. The more reviews a business has, the higher it tends to rank on the results page (particularly if the majority are positive reviews).
The Evolution of Google’s Local Search
Just a year ago the 7-Pack (local listings next to a map on Google's organic listings) was replaced by the Places page and a floating map to the right of the results page. Now Google Places "local" results blend in with the organic listings when conducting geocentric searches (ie, "New York hotels"). By claiming and optimizing the Places page, more information is able to pull into the results and thus help the business rank higher on the page.
It will be interesting to see what Google does next with Local Search. Now that Google+ has been released, it will definitely be a game changer. Searchers will soon find their own networks recommending businesses within the results page; creating yet another factor that will influence the rankings of results on a more personalized level. Plus, Google is crafting another opportunity for a business to create a brand page on the Google+ social network. Local search is ever evolving, so make sure you are staying current on the trends and continually optimizing your listing to boost it to the top of the results page.