I do a lot of SEO consulting for local businesses and as search engines are placing more and more importance on their respective local products and integrating them into the SERPs, it is critical to rank in the local listings, such as in Google Places. I attended an SEOmoz mozinar today about tips for ranking well in Google Places, and here is a list of some tips for optimizing and ranking well in Google Places:
1. Quantity of reviews more important than best reviews. When it comes to getting your business listed in the top results on Google Places, it is better to have 10 3-star reviews than 4 5-star reviews.
2. Optimize business names and titles. This means if your business name is called “New York Physical Training”, use that as your Google Places listing name rather than “NY PT, LLC”
3. Customize and complete every detail on your Google Places listing. For example, make sure to include your hours of operation, locations, phone numbers, etc.
4. Get Listed Everywhere! – The more places your site is listed for user reviews and ratings, the better. Here is a great link for places to get listed on – http://getlisted.org/resources/local-search-data-providers.aspx.
5. Be Consistent – Make sure you use the same exact business name, mailing address, phone number, and category on every single site you get listed on. This not only helps eliminate confusion for users, but it helps Google Places determine that all of your listings are actually the same business.
6. Subtly encourage user reviews – And perhaps more importantly, make sure they are actual honest reviews from real customers. You will be found out for posting fake reviews on websites and the negative backlash will be severe!
7. Use your local phone number instead of a toll free 1-800 number. It’s fine if you have a 1-800 number, but for ranking in Google Places, use your local number because after all, you are trying to rank in the local listings.