Surprise! Google recently rolled out another change in their results pages. This time it’s to the local search results. When you do a “local” search in Google—something like “pizza Chicago”—you used to see a contained space at the top with a map and 3-10 short one-line listings of local business, each pulled from their associated Google Places pages. Now you’ll see Google Places results incorporated right within the regular organic results.
Let’s look at an example. Say you’re looking for something unique to do this weekend and search for “dueling pianos Chicago.” You might get the following results.
The 1st listing (our client, Howl At The Moon) and the 5th are both supplemented with great information from their Places pages—imagery, address, reviews, etc. But the title and description being displayed are still from the main website. Organic results and Local results living in unison…it’s a beautiful thing.
Okay, so why should you care?
Well, the buzz in the SEO universe is that this new combo of information is giving sites a boost in Google when their Places page is well optimized. Plus, take a look back at that screenshot—the 1st and 5th listings are more robust than the rest and look a bit more appealing, right? They just might encourage some higher click through rates.
So what next? Well, we told you in April to claim your Google Places page, so if you haven’t yet done so, get on it! And given the new impact we’re seeing on organic results, here’s a few tips to keep in mind:
- Be sure to fill out your profile completely…it makes a difference
- What keywords are most important to your business? Use those in your Places description and in your categories, if possible
- It’s pretty safe to say that online reviews are really important to your Places, and therefore your Google organic, ranking. This means encourage your customers to write reviews; it absolutely does not mean pad your profile with fake positive reviews. (And Google also recently reminded us what we should all already know, be good to your customers!)
- Monitor your page. Getting your images, video, special offers, etc. in place is great, but it doesn’t end there. Add fresh deals every week or so. Monitor your reviews and respond to the ones you can (see Google’s tips for review responses)
The real moral of the story here is that a well-balanced online presence is incredibly crucial to your business’s success. Just a website with some marketing copy and contact form won’t cut it. Not even close. Google said so.