Sunday, November 28, 2010

Google Places Categories and Google Instant - Ideas to Maximize Impressions

If you've spent any time at all with Google Places, you know that a very minor change in the search can result in your business being #1 or #Not showing at all.  The addition of the state to your keyword (eg Mortgage Broker Los Angeles CA instead of just Mortgage Broker Los Angeles) by two digits like CA on the end of a search can change the listings.  Want to see a different list, then spell out the state. 

But this can also change radically by adding services or service or making something else plural in the search.  Google makes these decisions by how they find you business described elsewhere, primarily on your website.  So if you have your address as CA all over your website, then that will get you higher ranking when that is how the lookup takes place.  If you spell it out, your rank will drop under CA, but get better under California. 

So what are you supposed to do?  First of all, in choosing your categories, you generally prefer to select those that Google has offered as a Map.  This is where instant comes in.  You can quickly determine what has a map and what doesn't by making minor changes in your keywords in the search bar. 

But then, something else becomes obvious.   Google is giving you suggestions as you type.  That's half the point of instant.  Getting suggestions on what will provide the results you want.  You client might start typing in something that would go right to your best ranking on a map, but as they are typing the word, other options pop up which may cause them to stray away to a map that you don't do well on. 

So, in determining what categories you should list, begin by seeing what Google is recommending on Instant, then find out whether there is a Map for that.  You may want to double check with the keyword finder tool to make sure that more than 6 people per year look for that keyword.  Or alternatively, make a long list of the best keywords before you begin using instant to help make your decisions. 

Now you need to go to your website and make sure you are using these words on your front page in the same way, so that Google can confirm that you are who you say you are and do what you say you do.

P.S.  Google has just changed the rules.  They seem to be reducing the number of suggested categories on the set up page.  No clarity on whether they will also limit the variety of maps, too.  This is part of their new rule that says the categories are supposed to be who you are marriage counselor, not what you do, marriage counseling.


Jim said...

I have been researching Google Places for the last week, doing searches under various terms: assisted living, tree services, etc. I then take the 7-pack listings and put them into a spreadsheet: did they claim their listing,how many reviews, citations, photos, etc.

The results: listings are completely arbitrary. I have found no pattern that says that anything has any affect on your placement. Claiming a listing means nothing; pages that have not been claimed regularly place better than claimed listings; a claimed account with 33 reviews was #7, behind unclaimed accounts with no reviews. How can you tell someone that claiming your listing, adding reviews,photos,citations, and the like, will make any difference in their placement? Where am I wrong here; I want to believe that places is important, but, so far, I have seen no proof. said...

Frustrating, isn't it. I wish it were easier to plot the results. However, some folks have spent a ton more time than you or I have with massive information plotted to determine what is and isn't working. I also have the benefit of watching my clients move up based on changes.

Jim said...

Thank you for your response. I just found another blog that detailed the results from a list of bakeries ...the results were the same: claims, reviews, citations...there was no rhyme or reason for the order of the listings.
The obvious question is what changes, but you're not hear to give free thanks for the response. said...

Quite the contrary, I spent over 50 hours developing this site to provide free advice. Sure, I also make a living executing my advice for others. And, to be honest, this blog is a bit behind right now. I have so many clients that it has been hard for me to keep current with this blog.

As stated at the top of the page on the blog, there are rules and then there is experience and quality of execution. These cannot be encapsulated in a book or a blog post. Kind of like reading about how to do open heart surgery and then actually doing it. Or reading about the perfect golf swing and then putting the "rules" into practice.

Jim said...

That's why I don't golf....Have a Happy New Year. A pleasure talking with you.