Ken Horst

5 Ways to Win More Business with Google Places

Ken Horst     Local SEO, Online Marketing, SEO Tips

Local listings & Google Places

With the rise of smart phone use in the US, (Google Android and iPhone are currently reporting roughly 500,000 activations a day ) it’s more important than ever to have your Google places listing up to speed because when people use voice search on  Android phones, the first results they see are from Google local.

Let’s start with a few facts. Did you know that;

  • 73% of all online activity is related to local content (Google)
  • 82% of local searchers follow up with a phone call or show up on your doorstep (TMP/comScore)
  • 66% of Americans use local search to find local businesses (comScore)

Another reason to take Google Places seriously is the recent changes and enhancements that were rolled out.  Now you will notice the map with local businesses appears above the ads on the right side.  Also worth noting is that the local listings are appearing above all organic search results and have taken up more space, pushing the organic listings further down the page.

With the recent Google launch of Hotpot, Google is entering the local recommendation space.   Hotpot combines Google Places, the places you like and the places your friends like making it even easier for people to make decisions about which local businesses to patronize.

Not surprisingly, marketing on Google Places has gotten very competitive. It used to be you could simply fill out your business listing on Google and see it in the 7 pack a few weeks later.  These days, if your listing doesn’t have a 100% score, you can forget about being listed in the first 7 local businesses that Google displays for local results.  That said, here are 5 things you can do to get more business from local search:

1.       Make sure your Google listing has a 100% score – There are more than 20 different fields you in your Google Places listing and surprisingly most businesses don’t bother to fill them all in.  At the end of the day, the difference between showing up on the first page of Google Places or not can boil down to not having a video as part of your listing.

2.       Include product or service keywords in your listing description – I would also list one or two of the cities or suburbs where your target market lives.  As with any content on the internet, be sure not to over use your keywords.  Your description should be written for people with an eye for SEO.

3.       Encourage your clients to write a review on your Google places listing – Think about it, if you and 10 local competitors all have 100% scores on your listing, which is fast becoming the case, what will Google use to rank order these businesses? The one component of the profile that is open ended is the review section so in many cases, the business with the most reviews can win the day.

4.       Make sure you are listed in your local phone book – I know this sounds counter intuitive but the fact is Google looks to established sources of data to both build their database and check for local business information.  If you’re not listed here, it may affect your ability to rank on the first page.

5.       Get listed in the other top local directories like:

  • Yelp
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Best of the Web
  • Hotfrog, and
  • Foursquare

You can go to to get a score on how effectively your business is taking advantage of the free listings at the major search engines.

Local listings & SEO have always been important for small business online marketing, but now they’re essential.  If you follow the advice above, your business listing will have a better chance of getting on the first page of the search results and in many cases, may even appear above the organic search results.

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (28 votes, average: 4.21 out of 5)


  1. Avatar Black Seo Guy says

    Personally I have little experience with Google places, but I think its awesome and something I should be offing to my clients for their offline head quarters.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  2. A fantastic post many people think that adding themselves to Google places even if its a basic listing is enough. Its good to see some top tips how to improve your local search

  3. @black seo guy cool name…

  4. Don’t forget to add keywords in photos, videos and coupons too!

    • Avatar SEM Blog Dan says

      That’s right. Keyword research in local terms is even more interesting than what we know because there are local slang and dialects involved.

  5. Make sure to set-up listings at places like Insiderpages, CitySearch, and other online Business Directories. Google pulls reviews from these sites for use in your Places profile!

  6. Great tips Ken! Being new to San Francisco I’ve been using my new Android like crazy. Have found a lot of new restaurants and businesses through local search. It’s absolutely essential, everything not accessible via mobile might as well be invisible.

  7. Avatar Cindygarcia 06 says

    Theses are great tips to help business owners market there business. I’m new to alaska and I use google search at least once a day to find differents place around fairbanks.

  8. Another example of the importance of Google Places today – I needed a Locksmith so I did a voice search on my Android phone and clicked the link for the phone number on the first listing, which was a Google places listing. That company made a quick $75 today for being #1 on Google places, a free listing!

  9. chatmeter totally agrees with your article, monitoring local search and getting listed on search engines is a must for businesses of all sizes. If you like, check out chatmeter for free! We check your listings and monitor your reviews all acros the web.

  10. Avatar Annie Briggs says

    Interesting article…since I am new to blogging, would I be able to use Google Places to improve my blog ranking or am I not relevant to this?

    • Google Places is focused on physical stores or businesses. If that’s what you have, then you’d be very relevant. If online only, you’d have to provide a physical address.

  11. Do good reviews carry more weight than neutral ones?

  12. It is important that what people use for finding companies,i found that Google is the best place ,for finding business too,companies in the top list,..will be benefited too much ..because people think that first is the best selection rather than others…

    ecommerce web developer ecommerce web development

  13. Thanks Ken for this blog. I’ve been trying to make sure my Google listing has a 100% score…but I cannot get over 81%. I seriously do not know what I am doing wrong. I have another business that I manage online and I cannot even get them approved. I don’t get it. This is a auto collision center. Nothing weird. Well, I will go back and try again…

    • Try setting up the Place account with the bare minimum info to start. Once you see approval, start updating the content. Auto Collision Center will need to be named something like “Joe Somebody Collision Center.” Try to use the number on the service contact page, and link the map to that page.

  14. Nice brief set of tips. I just utilized one, which I consider extra work caused by Google, but what the heck, its their web page that they built. At least the hoop jumping is not extreme.

    M. D. Vaden of Oregon

  15. Thanks for the interesting and, thank heavens, easy to understand information! I think it is interest that 82% of people who see your Google lisiting will call or show up at your location – As I was checking out my Google Place ads I found that the majority of people were looking for driving directions, go figure!

  16. This really helped me understand my mistakes when I was trying to set up my places account. I have been doing for awhile now but have had some issues with ranking high. Hopefully after I do this stuff I will notice a difference in my ranking!

    Thanks for the tips

  17. Definitely have to echo your statement: 

    “Local listings & SEO have always been important for small business online marketing, but now they’re essential.”

    For some companies, it’s even critical for them to have their google places and other local pages/listings perform well in searches.  Since Google is constantly experimenting and trying to figure out where local results make sense, high ranking google places listings can literally make some past organic traffic go away if you’re not paying attention to this.  

  18. Avatar Graham Morgan says

    gaining backlinks with local targetted keywords like web design lancaster will stand you in good stead along with optimising your images correctly i.e local keywords in the alt tags, title tags, and if you can try and get the keyword in the image link address even though this doesn’t particularly have seo value but it does give abit more authourity to your alt tags. and having local number wouldn’t be a bad idea especially if the local area your optimising for is where your based

  19. Avatar Dream American Cars says

    Thank you very much, I have updated my Google places with relevant keyword wording like you have suggested. It looks fine but just wondering how long it takes for it to get seen in the search or whether I have to verify again? It states 100% complete so i’m guessing I just have to sit tight and wait and see.