If you are one of those local businesses that is just getting started and you’re doing everything on a budget, understanding how to do your own local marketing is a must if you want to reduce costs.
When it comes to Online Marketing for your local business, Google Places is definitely a place that you want to start. Below is a comprehensive guide and tips on how to not only setup a Google Places listing but also to optimize it so that it ranks well within the local search results for your chosen keywords and local industry.
Follow this guide and you will start getting new business enquiries in no time.
Localize Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
If you run a hairdressing salon in Melbourne and you would like to rank for “Hairdressers Melbourne”, it is important to include these two words at the beginning of your Title tag and at least once within your Meta Description. Please don’t spam as it doesn’t help local customers when doing a Google search and Google themselves may not like it. Try to be descriptive and inviting but also include your keywords. There is a fine balance here.
Localize Your On-Page Content
Using the same example and if you’re trying to rank your homepage for the above keywords, try to include “Hairdressers Melbourne” wherever you can within the content without affecting the flow if your copy. Lets say you have 700 words of content on your homepage, maybe include it 3-4 times. With the first couple of times, it is a good idea to highlight the keywords in bold or “strong” tags. Additionally, try to use variations of your primary keyword wherever possible. EG: Hairdressing Melbourne, Melbourne Hair Salon.
Insert A GEO Tag Into Your Header
Here is one little step that most SEO’s miss and is one that I find works a treat. Go to this tool and insert your business address into the search bar and hit search. The GEO Tag generator will then generator a GEO Tag which you can place in the head code / header of your website. This acts much like a Meta Tag and tells Google exactly where your business is located using the exact coordinates.
Create A GEO Sitemap / KML File
Using this tool, you will be able to create a GEO Sitemap and KML file which are other useful tools for Google to be able to accurately locate your business and rank you accordingly. It is fairly self-explanatory and once you have completed the process, it will give you two files to download. All you need to do then is upload them to your server and with the GEO Sitemap, you can submit this to Google via your Webmaster Tools dashboard.
1) Use Your REAL Business Name With No Keywords
To get started with your Google Places Listing, start here. I see a lot of SEO’s and novice “Google Places consultants” use keywords in the Company / Organization section of their client’s profile. BIG NO NO! If Google happens to notice this, which they most likely will, they will give you a big fat slap and knock you down to the bottom of the list. All you need to do here is enter your REAL business name with no keywords or additions. It sounds like a pretty simple instruction but trust me, a lot of people get it wrong and try to manipulate the system.
2) Include Your Primary Keywords In The Description (Don’t Spam)
The key here is to subtly include your keywords into the description of your Google Places listing but not to overdo it. It is advisable to include at least two of your primary keywords but ensure that it still reads well, people WILL read your Google Places profile. You only get 200 characters to work with so be thrifty with your wording. Going back to change your description all the time will not help and you may be required to re-verify so make sure you get it right the first time.
3) Choose One Standard And Four Custom Categories
Once again, using the hairdressing example as above, Google will allow you to create custom categories for your listing but you need to select at least one of the categories listed by Google. If you run a Hairdressing studio, you would pick “Hair Salon” and then you would use the other four to list out any other related categories that your business may fall under EG: Nail Salon, Beauty Salon, Tanning Salon, Waxing Studio.
3) Upload YouTube Videos (30 Seconds to 1 Minute Is Good)
(Or at least one video) With YouTube, you have the ability to geo-tag your videos. Once you have created and uploaded a video in YouTube, go ahead and set the location of your video in the video settings, publish your video and then insert the YouTube video link into the appropriate field in your Google Places listing. Not only will this help with your Google Places rankings but it may also rank in Google for your local search terms (depending on the competition). If you don’t have a video and don’t know where to start creating one, use this tool. It will allow you to create a 30 second and stylish video for free.
4) Upload Pictures (10 is advisable)
It is extremely important to upload as many business images as you can, 10 is advisable. I generally upload the business logo first and then 9 other images. If you have a portfolio of your work or images of your office, store or even your work vehicles, this is great! I will usually change the name of the image so that it is descriptive. I’m not really sure if this has any impact but its all a part of the process we use.
5) Utilize The Additional Details Section
Down at the very bottom of your Google Places listing (when submitting your business) you will have an “Additional Details” section. Generally what we do is list the areas served and the services offered as well as a few other details depending on the type of business we are submitting. There will be two boxes side by side and you can also choose to add more boxes if you wish. The first box would be “Services Offered” and the one beside it would be “Hairdressing, Waxing, Tanning, Nails, Manicures, Pedicures” etc. The next two boxes below would be “Areas Served” and in the box beside that would be “Melbourne, North Melbourne, South Melbourne, East Melbourne, Richmond” etc.
Link Building & Reviews
1) Submit Your Business Listings On Local Directories (Citations)
Your job isn’t done once you submit your business to Google Places, you still need to do a fair bit of leg work to ensure that Google recognizes your business and ranks it accordingly. Local citations or local business listings are probably the best way to do this. If you’re in Australia, some of the best local business directories are YellowPages, HotFrog and TrueLocal, otherwise, if you are in the US, it would be best to try Manta, Yelp and sites like these. Submit your business listing and then ping the search engines to let them know its there.
2) Get Clients To Places Reviews On Your Places & Directory Listings
Once you have had your Google Places listing verified and you have setup your other Local Business Listings around the place, go ahead and have your existing clients place a review on them. All you need to do here is put together an email and send it out to them, ask them to place a review on the link that you provide and this will not only help Google to pick up your listing but also help to bump your listing up the list in the local directories that rank businesses based on the amount of reviews they have.
3) Backlinks, Backlinks, Backlinks
Once you have a site full of useful and relevant content, have performed the on-site as stated above, created your Google places listing and started to building local citations, go ahead and start building other useful backlinks or possibly utilize quality link building services which are offer all across the internet. Google will take about a month or two to have you ranked in the top 3-7 Google Places listings if you have followed all of the steps above and creating extra, quality backlinks is only going to strengthen your position.
There we have it! A quick guide to winning big with Local SEO and tips on Google Places Opimisation! If you have any questions regarding Local SEO and would like to get some answers, feel free to leave a comment below and if you like this article, go ahead, share it around for other to learn from.
About the author: Lucas Raby is the Director of Digital Dynamite Pty Ltd who run a Local SEO website that provide Local Online Marketing consulting for businesses within Australia. For more information about Lucas or GPSEO, visit he’s website at http://www.gpseo.com.au