Google Launches ‘Places Search’ to promote local businesses

Posted on: November 5, 2010

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Google knows when you are looking for a local business or restaurant–at least they think they do.

Recently, Google updated the way they display search results. Their search result pages now prioritizes ‘Places’ listings (sometimes referred to as ‘map’ listings) if Google determines you are looking for a local business. This determination may be made if you include a local search term in your query, such as, ‘Austin animal hospital’. However, even when you are searching for something like, ‘Chinese food’ (without the city name) you may still see local business listings integrated into the search results…

See the example below:

This update marks an important shift in Google’s strategy to promote local businesses. Google estimates that nearly 20% of all searches are directed towards local businesses. It is their hope that ‘Places Search’ will improve the Google user experience by providing more relevant results than before.

So what does this mean for your business?

As a Search Engine Marketing company, we must not only closely monitor every search engine update, but evolve along with them. In order to make sure our clients keep experiencing increases in local search engine traffic, we will be working with you to optimize for local search.


Basic steps to optimize your website for local search

  1. Add business to Google Places – Up to 10 locations can be added to the same listing. If you have more than 10 locations OR separate businesses you can create multiple listings.
  2. Verify listings – Can be done immediately by providing Google with valid phone number.
  3. Populate listing – Make sure all relevant fields are filled out and correct. Also, add pictures!
  4. Offer promotions – Places gives you the opportunity to create discounts or special promotions that will display with your Places listings.
  5. Keep listings updated – Update listings if any business information changes.


What else can I do?

Google will automatically incorporate reviews, pictures and other info into main search results. Pictures are pulled from your Places account and ratings or reviews are gathered from popular user review sites such as Yelp and Citysearch.

NOTE: You cannot control what review sites will be displayed.


RECOMMENDATION
: To highlight your business in local search, you should encourage customers to offer feedback on whatever medium they are most comfortable using. Don’t waste paper handing out customer feedback surveys. Ask customers to write a short review on Yelp, Citysearch or any other platform they regularly use. These user generated reviews and ratings will be getting more visibility as Google continues to promote ‘Places Search’.

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