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Google Places Optimization: The Devil's in the Details with Local Listings

Last updated 2 years ago

Building a dynamic Web Presence is the key to helping local consumers discover your business when they search for products and services online. And, since 86% of local consumers use the Internet to find a local business, with search being the top way people look for products or services online, showing up in local search is an important goal for any local business.  And, one important factor in your Web Presence is to have a strong Google Places page so that when consumers are looking for a local business like yours but not typing in your business name directly, they’ll be able to find you.

According to the Google Places Help page for business owners, you can help consumers discover your local business by optimizing your listing with  accurate and complete details, selecting the most appropriate category for your business, and making sure you have a solid, accurate Web Presence across the Web. Notice that Google places a heavy emphasis on accuracy.

Taken together, these tips mean that having a great Google Places page is more than simply having the correct information on your Google Places listing. It underscores the importance of having accurate and consistent listings across your entire Web Presence – including third-party review sites like CitySearch and Urbanspoon (although Google Places no longer aggregates reviews from Yelp).

Why is accuracy and consistency across your Web Presence important? According to the Google Places Help page, “Google improves search results by aggregating information about your business from all over the Web. Make sure information about your business on third-party sites is accurate, and try to contact the respective site directly to correct any inaccurate information.” Plus, if your Web Presence isn’t consistent, Google may not attribute reviews on third-party sites to your business, significantly altering the impact of your Google Places page and thus affecting search.  That’s because reviews are a major ranking factor for Google Places pages.

Making sure you have an accurate, consistent Web Presence doesn’t just end with your local listings! Double check these details across all the pages of your website, including the “about” page and details like the footer. Check these details on your social media profiles and pages and anywhere you’ve contributed information about your local business online.

Not Sure Where to Start?

Make sure you the following details are consistent across your Web Presence:  

  • Physical Address
  • Phone Number
  • Business Name

Double Check the Details

It’s also important to make sure that your definition of “complete and accurate information” is more than simply that the information looks similar to the naked eye. For example, you might look at “1234 Tree Line Drive, Anywhere, Texas” and “1234 Treeline Dr. Anywhere, TX” and see that they’re the same address or read 1-888-555-5000 and 888.555.5000 as the same phone number. But to search engines, every single detail is needs to be the same to be complete, accurate and exactly the same across your Web Presence – down to the nitty, gritty details. So, make sure to double check the following when posting your business information online:  

  • Spelling – Make sure every word in your address and business name is spelled accurately and consistently. Beware: spell check may be your enemy here, since many local business names are plays on common words. Make sure that the spelling of your business name you list is yours!
  • Abbreviations – Does your business name include an abbreviation? If so, use it consistently across your business name mentions, punctuating it accurately. Also, make sure you use abbreviations consistently in your physical address, including whether or not you spell out or abbreviate your state name and street names like “Road,” “Lane,” or “Trail.”
  • Periods – After your abbreviations, do you leave them hanging or add a period? Also, watch out for alternating use of periods or hyphens within phone numbers across your listings. Pick your preference and be consistent.
  • Dashes & Hyphens – Do you know the difference between a hyphen and a dash? Hyphens go in phone numbers and some descriptive phrases like “Go-To Guy. ” Whether or not you know how to use them properly, make sure you’re using them consistently in your listings.
  • Commas & Apostrophes – Is there a comma in your business name? An apostrophe – before or after an “s”? Double check this detail!
  • Spaces – Is there a space in your business name or not? Are there two spaces after a period, or one? Spaces are tricky little details that often go overlook but can make a big impact.
  • Ampersands – Is it “Tile and Flooring” or “Tile & Flooring?” Make sure you’re consistently using this special character if there’s an “and” in your business name.
  • Special Characters – Double check any other special characters like dollar signs, parentheses, or brackets.

When is the last time you checked to see if your address, phone number, and business name are accurate and consistent across your entire Web Presence? Taking the time to adjust and update these details can help you make sure every element of your Web Presence is working for you to help consumers find you online.

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About the Author              
Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

 

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