Monday, December 12, 2011

Secrets to Optimizing Your Google Places Listing in 2012 - Everything Matters

The competition for Google Places Ranking is getting fierce.  The rules of optimizing your Google Places Listing are getting more and more obtuse.  What in the world is a poor local business owner to do?

Well, not just make things bigger or use highlighting.  That's for sure.  But over the next month I will post the top things you can do, and while time consuming, frustrating, and not 100% certain, if you consistently do these things, you will gain in the rankings. 

#1.  Everything means everything.  Your Google Places Listing is blended with your website and this combination shows up on the "Everything" pages of your search.  In case you haven't noticed, Google has changed the layout of their search page AGAIN!  There is no longer a black bar across the top.  The Menu of possible searches is under the word SEARCH, and the top search is called the "Everything" search.  This is also the default.  You would guess correctly if you said that almost everybody searches using the default search unless they don't find what they want.  And even then, they are more likely to try other default or "everything" searches than they are to try news or blogs or Places. 

Therefore, this everything search is actually the one you care about.  For some very strange reason, you have two ways you may show up on this page.  First and best is as a blended Places result where your Places listing and your website are showing and look for all the world like a Places listing only.  The arrows to the right of your listing when clicked will provide a large thumbnail of your home page of your website.  If you are using flash or unreadable stuff on your home page, it may be black or look really ugly.

Even if your Places listing doesn't show up, your website might.  Generally this will be below the Places listings. To make matters more interesting, in some categories you will not get Places listings with only the city as a modifier, but you will if you add the state.  Go figure!

So, about ranking.  Your website ranking is CRITICAL now.  Make sure your website (the one you are listing on your Google Places set up page is fully optimized, had tons of back links, etc.  In my opinion, your website ranking is now the number one determiner of Google Places and Everything ranking.  This actually makes sense, but it also makes it harder and more expensive than in previous years when such things as city center or number of reviews seemed supreme. 

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