With Google Local (Previously Google Places) you can now get 1st page rankings and get great exposure online without even having a website.
What is Google Places?
If you have a business that has a physical location then Google offers you a listing on their Google Places Directory. Your company name and location appears on Google Maps as well as in the Places section of a Google search. Google has recently also included Local within Google+ (Their version of Facebook). Within your places listing there is more info about your business and services.
Why do you need a Google Places Listing?
When a user searches for a company in a geographic location then Google Places allows your business to be found quickly. In South Africa people are still ignorant about Google Places and the importance of it, thus by getting in now it will put you at a huge advantage.
Businesses listed in Google Places can take up to 70% of the results space on the first page of a Google search, so it’s worth getting your company listed for the impact it can have.
According to Wikipedia there are over 42 million mobile handsets in South Africa. When you search Google on your mobile phone guess what searches normally appears first – GOOGLE LOCAL/PLACES. This is because Google believes that if you are searching for a plumber and you are in Cape Town then you do not need a plumber in Gauteng.
Google Places is still in its infancy in South Africa, if you ask most people if they have claimed their Google Places or Local listing they will look at you with a blank face and try to sound intelligent by answering yes of course. Then when they get home they will quickly Google “Claim my Google Places” as follow the procedure then.
How much traffic can Google Places really bring me?
It is important to note that the local search volume is for exact searches and not broad.
A company that gets #1 ranking for the terms can expect approx. 190 visits per month from the search term Plumbers Cape Town. (This number is based on a 40% click through rate for 1st place ranking terms.
This is very high for one search term considering that these are people nearby to you that are looking for your service.
1st Page Ranking Proof
Take a look at the search below for plumbing (It is important to note that I am logged out of Google and my location is set to Cape Town).
PHD Plumbing does not have a website (they have simply registered domain) and they have first page rankings for their key service. This term alone should get them approx. 70 unique visitors per month (Based on a 15% click through rate for position 3 ranking).
Tips to get 1st page Google Rankings?
Claim Your Listing
Go to Google Places and claim your listing. This will include a phone call or SMS verification and then normally within 1-2 weeks your listing will be live within Google Maps
Consistent UNAP (URL, Name, Address and Phone Number)
Google pulls information from various sources to provide robust data about each business. It is important to keep a consistent business URL, name, address, and phone number (UNAP) to avoid search engine confusion. The information you list on the website should be consistent with the ones on your Citations.
Go to as many Citation websites as possible and list your business there. Google uses these as one of the ranking factors. Ensure that your Company Name, Physical Address and Telephone number is exactly the same on all Citation Websites. (Please see the end of the article for a list of Citation Websites)
Ask for Reviews
Ask your clients to go to your Google Places listing one you have been approved by Google and place a review there. Do not place false reviews, Google picks up if there are too many reviews placed too quickly and will penalise those companies.
Add a local phone number
Ensure that you have a local phone number with your local area extension on both your website and the Google Places listing. This is critical for Google to show your Google places listing to the most relevant searches.
Have a physical address on your website
It is also very important that you have the physical address you use in Citations on your website (preferably in the footer of each page). This helps to keep consistency and should get you higher rankings on Google Places.
DO’s and DON’Ts for Google Places
Do’s for Google Places
- Ensure that you use the 200 character description wisely as this is very important
- Utilise all the Category Listings
- Create custom categories in addition to the ones provided
- Add Videos
- Add Images
- Include your opening hours
- Add coupons on a weekly/monthly basis
- Fill in every detail you can
Don’t’s for Google Places
- Place services and descriptions in your Title (Place your company name there)
- Create multiple listings for the same company if you only have 1 location
- Add multiple accounts under different business names at the same location
- Use PO Box for address
- Add dishonest reviews
- Spam the categories with geographic modifiers
Citation directories are key to getting high Google Places listing on Google. But just how do I find citations where I can list my business to stand a better chance of higher rankings?
A citation is basically any website that offers you the service of listing your business in a directory type listing that includes your business name, URL and Telephone number.
To find citation directories you can go to Google and search for “SA directory websites” and start by listing your websites on those sites that appear