Getting the most from Google Places

Getting the most from Google Places

I'm diving deeper into the world of Google Places...

In my last article, I wrote about and introduced Google Places – what it is, why you need it, and how you can get it. In this article I’m diving deeper into the world of Google Places, and I’m going to give you an overview of how you can get the most from your Google Places listing.

Here are my top tips.

Avoid keyword stuffing

It can be tempting to place your keywords everywhere on a Google Places listing, and you may have seen other businesses do it. A prime example is in the business name.

As a Web Design business, we often see competitors use words such as ‘web design’ in their business names, even though that’s not a part of their name. If the name of their business is CobWeb Design for example, you may see CobWeb Design – Web Design and Development on their listing. You may have seen this in your industry with your competitors. This breaks Google’s quality guidelines however, so you shouldn’t copy them thinking that you’ll also get ahead of the game by doing it. Google does punish those who break their rules, so have faith that anyone using underhand tactics will eventually be found out.

Google also states that you should not include any of the following in your business name:

Google states that your business name online should look exactly as it does offline – a good way to look at it I think.

Be consistent with your contact details

Google Places is all about being local, and your business’ address and phone number make up a large part of what it means to be local. This is a very important point, as it extends further than just your Google Places listing, and affects not only your own website, but other websites too.

The address and phone number you’ve listed on Google Places should appear exactly as it does on your website for best effect, using the same words and the same format. Also ensure that the phone number you use on your website and on Google Places is local to where you are, and so uses the local area code.

This also applies to the large directories out there such as Yell, as Google looks at many websites when it evaluates your trustworthiness. Having trust from Google is incredibly important, and in this sense Google acts much like a potential customer of yours, who doesn’t want to see different addresses and contact numbers across the different websites that they find you on.

Yell is an important directory in general, so I really advise you check it out and make sure your details are correct. Take the time to add as much information as you can to your listing. With information, more is better!

Search for your business on Google and work your way through the results to see if the details are correct. A lot of them will probably be directories, and Google looks as these.

Define your service areas

Do customers come to you, or do you go to customers? This is one of the most important questions regarding your listing, as your listing will work different depending on the answer.

If your customers come to you, then you don’t need to change anything. Google will list your business as existing where your address is, and people will see you there and will be able to find you there too.

If you conduct all your business at the customer’s premises, as you may work from home for example, you’ll need to do three things:

Use keywords in your description

Though you should avoid placing keywords elsewhere, your description is the perfect place for them, though don’t stuff them here, and always ensure that your description reads well and will lure people in. As I mentioned in my previous article on Google Places, try to be as descriptive as possible, and my rule of ‘more is better’ applies here too with the amount that you write, so try to use all 200 characters.

Get reviews

You want Google to trust you, so don’t be surprised when it doesn’t accept that you’re awesome just because you say you are. Google wants to hear from your customers about how great you are, so surely you want them to tell it just that. This is one thing I can’t recommend highly enough. With the way technology is changing, reviews are going to become incredibly important, even more than they are now, as the web becomes more and more social and interactive.

One thing to note is that the first 5 reviews are the most important, so this is your first goal – don’t stop to rest until you get there! These first 5 reviews will affect your trustworthiness more than any other.

To make it easier, add the link to your listing to things like your e-mail signature, and ask people to help you out by reviewing your service. They’ll be doing you a massive favour, so tell them how important it is to you and thank them afterwards. I also advise you ask people directly to take a small amount of time to review you. You can do this once you’ve completed the job you were doing for them for example.

Don’t add reviews yourself

This is very important, as Google knows who writes each review because they require you to sign in with a Google account. It may have occurred to you that you have many testimonials on your website, so you’ll just add them to your Places listing yourself. It may sound good, but these reviews will be artificial, and Google will know they’ve come from you. They’ll likely not count, and may even be removed automatically. Also likely is the fact that you may be penalised for trying to manipulate your listing.

Add images and video

Going with the idea that more is better when it comes to adding information about your business, the same applies with images and videos. You’re allowed 10 images and 5 videos, so try to upload as much as you can. Before you do though, give the images a proper name that describes them, and ensure that the videos are titled properly with good descriptions on youtube. Google can’t look at your pictures and videos, so it looks at the information associated with them to get an idea of what they’re about.

Monitor your stats

Don’t think you’re done just because you’ve completed your listing and it looks good – there’s more to see and do! By clicking on your listing’s name on the Google Places Dashboard, you can see statistics for your listing. Google shows you your impressions, which is the number of times someone has seen your listing when searching, and your actions, which is the number of times someone has either clicked to find out more about you or has viewed your website.

You’ll also be able to see the top queries that people are searching for when they find you. If these are not correct, you’ll need to incorporate better keywords into your listing and/or choose better categories so that Google gets a better idea of what you are offering. Believe it or not, Google can get confused and decide you are something completely different to what you are. Take a look at your listing on Google+, and look at the words underneath your address and contact number. These are what Google is currently associating you with, and if they’re wrong you’ll need to change your listing and give Google some time to reevaluate it.

100 is the magic number

When looking at your stats, you’ll see your business information to the right, and here you’ll see a gauge of how complete your listing is. Make sure this says 100%, because only then have you given Google enough information about you. You may struggle to compete with other business listings without a complete listing yourself.

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Samuel Claxon
Samuel Claxon

5th July, 2012


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