According to Google, location-based searches and the use of geo-targeted keywords are on the increase. Currently one out of five searches on Google is related to a user’s location. Google’s local services have gained more visibility in the SERPs over the past year. We predict that the importance of Local Search will continue to rise and this (of course) has put local search marketing on the map!
What is a Google Places Page?
Formally known as Google Local Business Center, Google Places is like the Yellow Pages of the Internet. Think of it like a Google local web page or an online listing of your business. This local listing can display information about your business in text, image & video format and is tied into Google Maps. According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. And… over the past year, the Search Engine’s local algorithm in Canada has resulted in more visibility for local organic search results on Google.ca.
Google Places and Google Maps appear in a Google SERP in the organic section. It’s important to understand the placement. In a previous blog post, we addressed the layout of a Canadian Google Search Engine Results Page in terms of Organic Search vs. Paid Search as well as where the engine displays Google Maps and Places. It is very prominent. Check it out if you require better understanding.
With Halloween just around the corner, and people searching for pumpkin picking farms in Ottawa, we decided to feature a local Places page.
Here is an example of a Local Ottawa Google Places Listing:
Business Information Section
This section is ideally provided by the business owner. It includes the name of the business, relevant categories, a short description, address, website and photo number. A web visitor can phone you, visit your website for more information and get directions via Google Maps (Canada).
Business owners and Google users can upload photos. These photos generally include storefront, products sold and people behind the business. They must, of course, follow Google’s guidelines. Videos can also be uploaded.
“What people are saying” about your business in a review format falls under this section. Reviewers must have a Google account to post. Owners have the ability to respond to positive as well as negative reviews.
Related Content Section
Related places that appear in this area of your profile are generated by Google. It’s based on the Google Places algorithm. Google displays other related Places pages in your geographic area. If you are positioned properly in Local Search, you will also appear on your competitor page in this section.
Google Maps Section
This section is also generated by the Search Engine based on your Places listing. Google displays a street view with a map icon to indicate your location. Web visitors can click on the map for a large view and get directions by car, bus, walking or by bike (if applicable).
Google Ads Section
Unlike your listing that is free, this section is for paid ads. This is where Google Ads (known as AdWords) are displayed. While you cannot remove these ads, you can certainly place your text ads on Places Pages.
How does this relate to SEO?
From a SEO perspective, your Google Places profile page can give you visibility in the SERPs beyond your website. Think of it as an additional web property. Depending on your industry, and relevancy from a Google perspective, your Places listing can even outrank your website based on a local branded geo-search. You can also rank in Places for generic searches based on related local non-branded keyword queries. And… your business listing can send you qualified web traffic via the inbound link on your page (SEOs’ love this!).
Your business can also appear on other Places pages under related places and/or in the ads section. From our perspective, this means more visibility in local search!
At least 20% of Canadian searches are local. People search Google.ca and Google Maps to find local businesses. Claim it, optimize it, monitor it -and measure it!
Can you get found?