Local Search Marketing with Google PlacesIf you want better search engine results (and more clicks, and more business), and you haven’t paid attention to “Google Places,” you need to do so right away.

Why You Need to Claim Your Spot on Google Places

* Google has stated that one out of five searches on Google is related to location. That translates to 2.6 billion “local” searches a month, and that number is increasing 50% per year. (Yes, that’s “Billion”-with a “B.”)

* If you’re a family law or divorce attorney in Irvine, CA for example, you want to show up when someone does a Google search for “divorce attorney orange county,” or some variant of that – which happened over 56,000 times last month. Maybe your niche or location can’t boast that kind of volume, but when you get your Places page set up and positioned correctly, it can still have a dramatic effect.

* A good Google Places listíng can provide a valuable bump in your search engine ranking and in your ability to reach and interact with prospects and customers. You can even post real-time updates to your Places page to promote a sale or seminar or other event, put up a coupon, or communicate anything else.

* Google Places has become so important that it has become a marketing niche all on its own, with “local marketing SEO” consultants that do nothing but help businesses use it properly.

Now, that you know why you need to be on Google Places – how can you claim your spot so you can experience improved search engine results and more website traffic?

Claiming Your Google Places Page

If you haven’t already claimed your places page, simply go to Google.com/places and work your way through the process, after reading the 7 tips below. If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll have to create one, but it’s easy, and free.

7 Tips to Help You Get Your Google Places & Other Local Search Directories’ Listing Found – Plus Get More Clicks

1. Get Consistent in How You List Your Address and Phone Number

When Google crawls the web, and your website, it can read “123 Main Street” as something different than “123 Main St.” It will even see “123 Main St.” as something different than “123 Main St.”

Same thing with phone numbers. “(714) 555-5555” will be seen as being different than “714-555-5555,” which is different than “(714) 555 5555.”

2. Use a Local Phone Number

If you have an 800 number, or other toll-free number, show your local number as your primary phone, and show the toll-free number as an additional one.

3. Get Consistent in How You List Your Company Name

If your company name is “Honest Website Marketing” (which we hope it isn’t since that’s our name) don’t show “Honest Website Marketing” in one place, then in another place put “Honest Website Marketing, LLC.” Just like with addresses and phone numbers, the search engines may think those are two different companies.

So, look at your website, and be sure you’re consistent throughout your site. Then, do it the same way on your “Places” page, and your “YELP” page, and your Chamber of Commerce listing, and on Yellowpages.com and the other hundred local directories you can get yourself listed in.

4. Fill in Your Website’s URL

This may seem obvious, but people miss it all the time. And if your site shows as www.yoursite.com/, don’t list it in your Places page as www.yoursite.com . That tiny difference can be a problem.

5. Post Reviews

Posting reviews from happy customers is one of the most powerful things you can do to get your “Places” page ranked well. Encourage your customers to find your Places page and then write a review. Reviews on your Places page are particularly important in pushing it to the top of the search results, which gets you more clicks. Plus, it helps you build credibility so you get more clicks to your website.

6. Get Citations

I do not mean the ones you get from the Highway Patrol. But, I do mean the ones you get by getting listed in other places and directoríes, such as Superpages.com, Yelp, Citysearch, your Chamber of Commerce listing, and the other fifty or a hundred directory-type places you ought to get yourself listed in. Every time you get listed some place and get a citation, you beef up your importance in Google’s eyes, which helps you gain higher search engine rankings

7. Post Photographs, or Better Yet, Videos, or Even Better, Both

Pictures and videos are appealing to your visitors and Google loves them. So take full advantage of the ability to post them on your Places page. It’s just as important there as it is on your website itself.

These are only a few of the things you can to enhance the effectiveness of your Places page.

These 7 can be done by anyone, even people without a lot of technical knowledge. Of course, you can outsource the task to a website marketing pro who specializes in local search marketing as the expert will save you time.

By Scott Harvey (c) 2011