To explain what Google Places is, and how it affects your traffic to your website, it is probably best to give a brief history of the platform. Google attempted to "localize" its results a few years ago with the introduction of "Google Maps" which would provide businesses near the searcher by using the IP address of the computer the searcher was on. The theory was that people would be more interested in local results because they were interested in patronizing brick and mortar businesses for many products. Businesses could list their location on Google Maps and thus be presented in a local section. As it grew in popularity, Google began to integrate it into the results in better positions, until it began to be placed above all organic listings. Google Maps then morphed into Google Places, which gave merchants the ability to put additional information into their listing, and manipulate some of the information through an account login. People were given the ability to interact with the listing by providing reviews and testimonials, as well as add photos and some other items. This evolution completed as the integration of "Google +" happened, which essentially mimicked Facebooks ability to "like" items, while still providing the other elements that were housed in the other platforms. As it stands, the process uses all three platforms, and Google is utilizing elements of all three to manipulate listings. Merchants still use Google Places to list their business, but this is slowly moving over to Google +. The merchant account is still within Places. All social interaction now takes place through Google + profiles, which populate both Maps listings and Google + listings.
Here is a short list of best practices with which you can set up your Places page, which will transition over to a Google + listing automatically. Keep these things in mind when listing your business:
1. Make sure your address and phone number listed in the places pages match your address and phone number on your website. Make sure that it is an exact match of information.
2. Make sure only one person is in charge of these listings to avoid duplication or misinformation.
3. Do not list more than one business per address. If you have more than one business operating from the same address, give them slightly different addresses by adding unique characters to the listing.
4. Do not duplicate phone numbers across listings. You may be able to get them listed, however Google will begin to blend information between the two eventually. Set up a unique phone number for each business.
5. Do not attempt to keyword stuff in the listing. Additionally, utilize the description to actually describe what your business does. Even though we are technically a "Las Vegas SEO company," in the description we must list what we do instead of using the terms "Las Vegas SEO company." This is considered keyword stuffing. It is a problem if you use keywords in your business name, but Google is pretty good at recognizing it if they can compare it against other listings for the business from other parts of the internet.
6. If the business name itself contains keywords, list is as it is on your business license.
7. Do not use redirects in your Places listing. Google will quickly recognize it and shut the listing down.
8. Use a local number. 800 numbers are good for customers outside of your local area, but you are attempting to prove to Google that you are servicing a LOCAL area. Many times, listings will not go live with an 800 number, although we have had success making this happen anyway.
9. Never attempt to draw attention through capitalization. Do not use more than four capital letters in a row.
10. Do not use any of the words that are on the "Google Banned Words" list: The list is as follows:
Pill as in the Village of Pill
Pine (sounds kinky?)
Sex as in Sex Therapy
Venus as in Venus Hotel
World Trade Center
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