Nicholas Melillo Veteran SEO Consultant and Web Designer

10Nov/10Off

Google Maps – Local SEO Best Practices

About the author:

Nick Melillo is a Local SEO consultant in Greensboro, NC who specializes in helping small businesses of all types get highly ranked both locally and organically on the search engines for keywords which bring them customers and ultimately more sales.

First things first, you need to have a legitimate business address.

Secondly, it is vital that your location is a commercial property because the search engines differentiate between commercial and residential addresses.

Thirdly, make sure that you fill out your business listings accurately and do not "over do it" with keywords.  If your listing looks like spam, they will treat it like spam.  Simple as that.

Here are some good tips quoted directly from Google's Local Business Center Quality Guidelines:

Ownership

  • Only business owners or authorized representatives may verify their business listings on Google.

This is critical because in order to maintain a sense of balance and fairness, not to mention eliminate the risk of false advertising; you must be an authorized representative of the company you are listing.  Verification is very important because an unclaimed listing will not get the same value placed on it as one who has been verified and confirmed by the business owner or representative.  This security measure is also in place to help deter people from claiming listings which are not theirs, which presents an identity protection issue for business owners.

Business Name

  • Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world. The name on Google should match the business name, as should the address, phone number and website.
  • Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.
  • Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name.

Google is a stickler about having accurate, honest information on their search engine and integrity is big in their eyes.  Make sure that when you create your listing that you are honest about the content you put in and do not try to misdirect the search engine, because they will know about it and ultimately suspend your Google Places account.

Physical Location

  • Do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist.
  • PO Boxes do not count as physical locations.
  • Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
  • Businesses that operate in a service area as opposed to a single location should not create a listing for every city they service. Service area businesses should create one listing for the central office of the business only.
  • Businesses with special services, such as law firms and doctors, should not create multiple listings to cover all of their specialties.
  • The precise address for the business must be provided in place of broad city names or cross-streets.
  • A property for rent is not considered a place of business. Please create one listing for the central office that processes the rentals. If you'd like, you can add your real estate properties to Google Maps so that they are available on our Real Estate layer.

These are all very critical aspects of the Google algorithm and must be obeyed if you wish to maintain a good ranking on the search engines locally for the keywords which bring you business.  Having accurate company information is essential to success and will get you ranked higher than someone who is attempting to cheat the system because they know that you are an honest business and will reward you accordingly.

Multiple listings are a quick way to get your Google Places account suspended and that is a giant pain in the butt, because you will have to appeal and that can take up to 3-4 weeks for them to manually review your account.  In the meantime, your listings are held in a "pending review" status; which you do not want at all.

PO Boxes do not count as physical locations, so make sure you have an office (physical location) and if you don't have one, get one!

Creating multiple listings per city you service will also put you on the fast track to getting banned real quick.  If you have physical locations (offices) in each city, then yes you can do this.  If not, don't do it!

URL & Phone

  • Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible. For example, you should provide an individual location phone number in place of a call center.
  • Provide one URL that best identifies your individual business location.
  • Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or 'refer' users to other landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business.

Your phone number allows Google to pull a lot of data about your business and this is essential to having a solid listing.  Don't use a cell number, we highly recommend a land-line.

Having a URL is a no-brainer, you want people to check out your website...right?  Of course!  Make sure you put this in there, otherwise you are missing out on valuable web traffic that you COULD be getting but aren't due to this oversight many people make.

Custom Attributes & Description

  • Use the description and custom attribute fields to include additional information about your listing. This type of content should never appear in your business's title, address or category fields.
  • Please see this page of Google Places User Guide for examples of acceptable custom attributes.

Custom attributes are highly recommended to improve visibility for keyword search terms, just don't go overboard or you will get a slap on the wrist and it won't be pretty.  If you do create custom attributes, use them to tell customers more about your business and add information that is not found throughout the rest of the listing.  DO NOT use these sections to keyword-spam!

Best Practices

  • Use standard capitalization & punctuation, unless your business name or address in the real world contains unusual capitalization & punctuation.
  • Use a shared, business email account, if multiple users will be updating your business listing.
  • If possible, use an email account with a domain that matches your business URL. For example, if your business website is www.giraffetoys.com, a matching email address would be you@giraffetoys.com.

Of course, spelling errors and improper capitalization, punctuation, etc...can get you points deducted because it is not good quality content.  Google likes accuracy of information and you need to make sure you provide them with it!

Don't use an account that will be limited access only, because it will prevent other people in your organization from being able to access the listing for editing purposes (if you choose to delegate that service) and if you hire an internet marketing company or consultant (like myself), you'll need to give them access and you wouldn't want it to be your personal account would you?  Of course not.

Email accounts from domains which match your URL add credibility to the listing, which enhances performance accordingly.

Of course, these are just the basics; stay tuned for more advanced tactics coming soon.

For more information about Google Places, please visit the Google Places user guide.

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Filed under: Local SEO Comments Off
Comments (1) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!


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