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Monday, November 29, 2010

Marketer’s beware! Google Places seems to be everywhere. We all know that Google has gotten into a regular habit of updating their algorithm and as marketers we need to know and understand what these changes mean for our business. Google Places is having an impact on local businesses including brick and mortar and online businesses too.

Google launched Place Pages over a year ago for more than 50 million places around the world to help people make what they call “more informed decisions” about where to go. Google Places lists any local business from your local pizza shop to local school. Places integrates reviews, photos, business information, and provides special offers.

With the recent addition of Google Tags, Google has found a way to monetize Google Places. Hey, you didn’t think they were doing this for the good of mankind did you? Google Tags allows any business owner to expand their Google Places listing. In particular, you can post a special offer or coupon that is ties to your listing. This gives local business owners an additional way to stand out on Google search result listings. You can even claim a free trial to Google Tags before you have to pay the $25/month fee. It’s worth a try to better understand how this new system works and how you can benefit.

One of the most popular questions I’ve been getting about Google Places is how it’s going to impact Website traffic and organic search results. The more keyword research I do the more I’m discovering that Local results are taking up a greater share of the search results page. Of course this is only an issue for some search terms that have a local equivalent. If you’re an online business, don’t despair. You can take advantage of Google Places as well while continuing to focus on optimizing your most important keywords.

Start your optimization campaign by searching for the keywords you are optimizing your site for. Do you see Local results? If so make sure that you have completed your Google Places profile. Visit Google Places and sign up for an account. Include the keywords you are trying to optimize for and complete as much of the profile as you can. This includes hours of operation and tags. Once you’ve completed your profile, send a link to current or previous customers asking them to review your site and services. Sites that rank well on Google Places almost always have reviews.

For the keywords that do not have Google Places results, you can still apply search engine optimization best practices. These keywords do not have a local flavor or Google would be displaying them in the search results. Keep optimizing your specific pages and building inbound links steadily overtime. Make your links from various sources of different authority and page rank to avoid Google penalties and keep a close eye on result pages. Google Local, similar to any Google tool or algorithm will receive many updates and changes over time. 

By understanding and leveraging the power of Google Places, you can benefit. Set up a Google alert to be identified of Google news that may impact your local search results.


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