Google places has made some changes to what is displayed in your businesses Google places account. Gone are the reviews from other than Google places users, although it will still show the links and number of reviews found on other review site (Yelp, Insider pages, and mores)
They also have removed the long studied (by local SEO firms) citations at the bottom of the page. Many bloggers are calling this a major blow to local SEO firms. They base this on old and outdated local SEO tactic where a SEO would research the Citation sites found on the top ranked local maps competition and use those citations to get ranking for a client. Frankly, that has not worked since fall of 2010. (Our estimate)
As we have been blogging about from time to time, Local SEO changed last October, when Google decided to mix both a sites organic rankings and Maps placement. We had always used both Local directories as well as organic SEO to get our clients better Internet visibility, but for the “Local SEO” firms that where just using Local only tactics, the changes must have had a negative effect on client rankings.
So what do yesterdays changes mean to Local SEO? Nothing. It’s still the same premise. Do great promotion and visibility programs for your site. Don’t try to keep up with every change Google makes (it will drive you crazy), just use sound marketing and promotion principles to get the right people to your site.
As this post is getting a great deal of attention and is ranked number 1 on Google for “Google places Changes” I thought I should add some additional content that might be of use to someone interested in the subject. I am assuming you are either a SEO or a business owner manager involved in the on-line promotion of your site?
Best current Local Maps (Google places) promotional tactics.
First, don’t fall in love with Maps. Organic SEO on local intent SER can do as much if not more for you. Remember only 30%-60% of searchers are searching with a local intent term. The others are being served local sites because Google assumes they are looking for a local company.
Second. Citations are dead. This is my opinion, but watching and assessing rankings for new clients seems to strongly suggest that building the old Citation links and mentions is a complete waste of time. Only add your site to local directories that will actually bring you traffic! Here is our YES list: Yelp, Angie’s, local Better Business Bureau, and your chamber. Also any niche directory’s with less than 10 0r 15 listings can be very valuable. Don’t pay for listings!
Third. In the beginning your physical address has as much to do with your local ranking as anything. The address of your company and its proximity to what Google considers “city center” is a huge factor. Also, make sure your address(s) are displayed on your home page and contact page. As your site gains better trust and SEOmoz page authority your physical address will become less of a factor. Make sure Google knows what cities you service by using your Google places account, and mention this on your site.
Fourth. Using SEOmoz page authority as your guiding light is the best method for improving your rankings on Maps and organic. Combine the other tactics I am talking about with high quality back linking and content is the only way to improve your rankings that I see consistently work.
Fifth. Link’s and mentions from other local site’s are highly respected with Google. Get your associates to mention you on their sites. Sponsor a local charities page, write real reviews of your local vendors that they can post on their site (include your Company Name Address and Phone, as well as your www if they will do that.
Eight. Domain names matter. So do Company names. Yes, I understand that if you have been in business 10 years you can not change your name, domain and address. Or can you? If it’s a new campaign, go ahead and start with a keyword based domain name.
Nine. No follow links are good. You hear a lot that no follow links pass no link juice (or whatever). The point is to get your site promoted, so if a site is no follow, but can bring you good traffic, use it! Twitter, Face book, most wordpress blogs are no follow, but have great traffic and, do you really thing Google is just blindly following the instructions of the site owner for what link is trustworthy and what link is not? Please.
Ten. If you are going to work on your sites ranking and visibility, you are going to need to put in the time to do it. Figure an hour a day for 3 months. That’s 60 hours of sometimes productive, and many times non productive time, some one has to invest.
And then the golden rule: No one thing is going to put you in the top of a Google Places search. I think you would agree, that all of the tactics I talk about are just good old fashion P.R. and promotion. Use this mind set… the P.R. mind set, what can I do to get my site (businesses/services) seen and noticed by the largest group of prospects possible. And once I am noticed, what is it they are going to experience?
Putting all this work into a poorly developed site is a pretty big mistake, I had three restaurants I owned years ago and did a BIG radio promotion selling any thing on the menu for .79 cents on a Saturday morning. It was a disaster of course, we had a line out the door, and ran out of half our items. Service was slow, and the product went out lousy. Not only did the promotion not work, it hurt us!
As in life, as in SEO ” above all, do no harm”
The best SEO advice? Build content your prospects want to see.
If you are interested in doing your own SEO, or are a SEO looking for a little help, you may want to check out our web optimizer club
- Changes in Google Places and Reviews – What Does it Mean? (blumenthals.com)