We all know (hopefully) its mega difficult to get to the top of Googles search results, unless using and having an ongoing budget for Adwords (and even then its not guaranteed).
There is a really great way to get to the top of Google in the search results via some smart optimisation of your Google Place listing however, which not enough people know about and its POSSIBLE to get there easily and fast ! I repeat – its POSSIBLE.
The Google Places search results appear at the top of Google for some search queries containing place names, postcodes in combination with words such as plumber, hotel, accommodation and so on. Business can claim or create a Places listing here www.google.com/places. These listings are then eligible to appear in Google search results inc Google search and Google Maps. The process is quite simple and I wont cover it here.
“Yes, we already know that” I hear you say and apologies if you think im trying to teach you to suck eggs, the purpose of this blog post is to make sure you dont forget the single most important thing you need to do when creating your listing. The thing almost every place listing ive ever seen doesnt have and the single best and most powerful SEO tip I could give any local business – USE ALL 5 CATEGORY FIELDS.
By default you have to select one mandatory category option. Start typing and Google gives you some possible options. Once you’ve chose one theres a good chance you’ll appear in Google search results and on Google Maps for searches of location based variations of that category term e.g. add plumber as a category and of you’re based in Exeter you could well rank near the top of Google page 1 for search queries like ‘plumber in exeter’ or ‘plumber exeter’.
Now the clever bit – what are the phrases people would use to search for your business? You see the above example, this is a real example that works great. The business in question runs cottage lets but guess what – Google doesnt have a ‘cottages’ option so we cant use it as the default. In fact the closest default option we can choose is ‘self-catering accommodation’ which really isnt that great at all as way less people search for ‘self catering accommodation in devon’ than ‘cottages in devon’. So what to do? Add it as an optional category and hey presto the business ranks for cottage appropriate terms. You’ll see they also use; short breaks, dog friendly and weekend break categories all of which helps them for place relevant term variation e.g. ‘weekend breaks in devon’ ‘dog friendly cottages in devon’ etc. Now because not many owners of Google Place listings are savvy enough to use all 5 categories or choose their optional categories wisely it becomes much easier to outrank them for variations of your category terms.
Pretty sweet right?! It gets better. Again using the above business as example they know that cottage lets are seasonal and demand shifts and the type of holidays people want change throughout the year so they make sure they reflect that in their category selections e.g in the run up to Christmas they’ll add a category ‘christmas breaks’ and guess what – they quickly rank on top of page 1 for ‘christmas breaks in devon’ and similar. If business is slow they can add a ‘last minute breaks’ and thus they start getting traffic from ‘last minute breaks in devon’ and similar.
Ive been able to achieve page 1 Google rankings using these techniques in less than 10 minutes – seriously. It has however got tougher to rank and ive seen it take several weeks or even never to rank. For fairly uncompetitive terms its still pretty easy and fast but the algorithm and the process to get ranked has got more complicated since Google launched this type of search results. Its also hared to rank if you arent near to the ‘centroid’ of the place name being searched for e.g. plumbers in Exeter are more likely to get their site ranked for ‘plumbers in devon’ than plumbers in Plymouth on the far west of the Devon. For a detailed analysis of what it takes to rank in the Google Places and Maps results read this by David Mihm.