Search Engine Optimization tips for Google Places, Yelp and other popular location pages

Google PlacesThere are several popular online location service websites and apps that can make a big difference for your brick and mortar establishment’s online visibility. If you run a pizza place in Portland, for example, if you can get your establishment near the top of the search list when locals search for a place to grab a slice, you could end up with a lot more walk-in customers. In this article I’ll take a look at a few different sites and ways to help improve your search results and information.

Using Location Directory Pages

Google Places, Yelp, and Foursquare are some of the most popular location search services on PC and smartphones for businesses. They are all free to set up and can offer several additional tools beyond simple directory submission. I’ll also point you towards some other directory sites that could help your business, but these social media sites are some of the most important to get set up, and the additional tools they provide are well worth looking into.

One of the most crucial parts of ensuring your search results will rank now is making sure that your Google Places info is set up and optimized for search. Google Places and Google+ Pages offer great SEO benefits on the most popular search engine. First you will want to make sure that all of your information is correct on your Google Places page. Then you need to verify your location in order to show up on Google’s search engine results page. The quickest way to verify is via SMS, which only takes a couple minutes.

Here is a helpful article with some great tips on optimizing your page specifically for Google Pages.

Customer Reviews

Customer Reviews are also a big part of how your business will appear in search results. Some companies have been known to pay writers to generate positive reviews, but many of these websites do try to clear false reviews when they can catch them. This factor may seem a bit outside of your control, but really this is where a little bit of customer service can go a long way. By responding and attempting to rectify a negative reviewer’s problem, other users will see this attention to detail, and that reviewer may even go back to adjust his or her review.

Here are some great ideas to generate more quality reviews on Yelp. Good reviews can make a big difference, as a well reviewed establishment is likely to pull many more new customers, so it can be well worth putting some energy into establishing your brand and presence on yelp.

Running promotions to encourage more reviews

Many location sites and apps such as Yelp and Foursquare offer businesses opportunities to promote specials for the online community. This is a great way to engage these communities and generate more reviews and likes for your page. Whether it’s just a like or a full review, a good special can really help get people talking about and sharing your business online.

Address Citations

Another important factor for boosting your search results are the citations for your address and phone number. You need to make sure that your address and number appear the exact same way anywhere they appear on the web. In this case, your address is your citation, and the more it appears around the web, the higher your pages will rank in search results. If alternate versions of your address appear, I would recommend doing whatever you can to fix them. You can use it as your signature in community forums and social media sites as well as submit it to other local directories, to boost your citations and results. If you are not sure which version of your address to use, you should use the exact version that the Post Office would use. You also want to make sure to use a local phone number, as this will rank much more highly within location services than an 800 number or non-regional number like you might be assigned on Google Voice or Skype.

Keywords

You will want to identify what keywords people search for to find the type of business you operate. You should incorporate these keywords into your pages and your images as often as possible (within reason, spamming keywords can result in diminished search results). Here is a helpful free keyword finder from Wordstream, where you can enter a basic keyword related to your business to find several niche related keywords people might be searching for. Also keep in mind that keywords that appear in your title, URL, and within the first 1,000 characters of your page weigh more heavily on the ranking systems than those found near the bottom.

Images

Images are another important step for your location pages. Pictures should be formatted so that they will appear appropriately in a search results page, and since the first uploaded image is the first to appear with your page, I’d recommend using a clearly recognizable logo. Images should be formatted to 290×290 pixels and carry a .jpeg or .png extension. Other useful images to include are a picture of your establishment from the outside, so that visitors can easily recognize it when they arrive, and maybe some images to display your products or portray the services you offer. This article offers a lot of helpful advice on optimizing your images for the web.

Additional websites that can improve search engine results

These are some other pages that Google incorporates into its ranking system, so if they apply to your business I would recommend setting up pages and trying to garner some reviews on these sites:

-Angie’s List

-AVVO

-City Search

-Insider pages

-Judy’s Book

-Service Magic

Not only will these help to boost your search results and give you more places for additional address citations, but it’s a good idea to get linked into these communities so that you can be accessible in regional searches on that many more websites.

Increasing your visibility increases your clients

It’s simple really, the more people see and hear about your establishment, the more people know about the services you offer when they need them. Since most people only search for a place when they are looking to use their services, having your search results rank highly can make a big difference in your customer base. It’s free to list and post with a majority of these sites, so it’s well worth a little bit of your time to make sure you have your information and SEO content in place. I hope these tips and resources can help you on your way! Make sure to check back here at the CEM blog for more tips on SEO and advice for your social media marketing.

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Ross Wilson is a writer, musician, and technology guru. He has worked in many facets of technology and IT since 2005. He also plays in, records, and runs social media for several bands and projects around Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his cat, Lewis.

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