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June 29, 2011

Making the Most of Local SEO With A Google Places Page

Like most small business owners with their first website, I didn’t immediately understand the importance of keywords and search engine optimization when it comes to being found by customers who live virtually on your doorstep. And that’s where Local SEO is a key factor.

Statistics have shown that most customers will buy from businesses located within five miles of their base. It’s almost as if they trust a business more if it has a local physical address.

I now know that the key to getting on the front page of Google for local keywords is to rank in the seven-pack list of Google Places pages with one of those red balloons These are the websites that Google is giving away for free to those businesses that they recognize as being the ‘go to’ places for a particular service/product in that location.

Google makes the decision as to who gets into the top seven by the relevance of the website’s description to the search term, its proximity to the center of the location and how often they have seen that business mentioned in a variety of local listing directories/social media platforms. That’s what makes the difference between the award of a red balloon and a red dot.

However, as a small business owner with no knowledge of SEO, local or otherwise, I was not aware of the thinking behind the selection. I knew I had to have a Google Places page but, over the months, there was conflicting advice as to the best way to get one.

Some experts advised that an existing Google Places page should be claimed immediately to stop any mischievous competitor from taking it and messing around with the phone number or address whilst others suggested that it was better to get all the information needed to complete the various demands for company information and then claim it.

Still more said that, if Google had not already deemed you worthy by preparing a Places page for you for free, then you should just create your own and another group insisted that was wrong and you should promote your online presence until the big G had been nudged into noticing you.

The one thing that they all eventually agreed on was that you shouldn’t try to influence Google or any potential customers by stuffing keywords into the Title of your business listing. Sadly, it was too late for me because, by then, I had already submitted my entry with explanatory keywords after the main name of the business.

The next thing that became a consensus was that you needed to have an absolute address. PO Boxes and virtual addresses would not do at all since verification was now done via postcard and no proper address meant no possibility of proving that you did do business from that address. However, again, this became a fact after I had entered a second entry (with an incomplete address to preserve my anonymity as a home worker) because Google Places seemed to have eaten my first.

Two months later, I typed my keyword and location into the Google search box and discovered that both entries were now showing – and that neither had the correct details. To my consternation, one had a big red circle with a letter and the other the standard red lettered balloon.

That’s when I met someone who did know what they were doing and, under their guidance, we were able to start again and do things properly, in the right order, so that Google could present me with my own free website showing all the required information for local customers to get in touch.

The red balloons of Google Places are the key to getting found online. To find out more, go to For Essex Local SEO advice you can trust, visit

14 Responses to “Making the Most of Local SEO With A Google Places Page

    avatar D. Lukow says:

    Google has really turned into the 800 lbs gorilla!

    avatar business daily says:

    Google Places is the search box that appears with the local business results when searching for a keyword with a location. If you are not in the top few results you are missing out on business…The fact is that customers like to deal with local companies they can find. The short story is that if your business does not show up in the top results you will not be found.

    avatar Paul Heim says:

    The Google places was a tasty free gift from Google that really benefited business owners, especially the early front runners who understood it. If your not on Google Places then your missing out.

    avatar local seo says:

    I think local seo and internet marketing is really comming into play in advertising campaigns for small businesses. I think alot businesse that have not yet started trying to establish themselves online are not only missing out on alot of business, but also are going to have to really play catchup in the future….it could get expensive.

    What about a virtual address that allows receiving the post card? That should work for Google right.
    If those virtual services do not allow mail, what is the point of them?

    avatar Boise Premier Real Estate says:

    Great article. Thank you for the information!

    avatar Josh says:

    Google is a monopoly and the way they change their algorithm can kill small businesses. The best example would be their penguin update..I am starting a website based on water diets and have seen some spammy sites tooking the top positions..

    @Josh I agree, it seems small businesses are facing increasingly unfair competition every single day.

    I have heard of people paying tenants that live on main roads $30 to receive the card for them and SMS the code. Not a bad idea I guess.

    avatar Only SEO says:

    Local map listing only account for 5% of click through to a website compared to organic listings at 60% and paid listings at 35%. Another thing that Local maps do it take away from your organic listing. The only industries local maps are good for, are accommodation, beauty services and restaurants.

    avatar John Shaba says:

    Not sure I agree with the above comment, the maps listings are usually the first thing a user sees. therefore, most likely to click on. Plus the maps listing has the phone number right there so a user could just call the business without even having to go into their site.

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