Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.
– C. W. Ceram

At present, getting your local listing to rank well in Google places local listings requires you to understand the madness of a disorganized Google. Okay, it may be a little less entropic, but only slightly so.

To our further misfortune, Google doesn’t give out a perfect play-by-play of their goings-on, thoughts, and feelings. So when they hire 300 new employees to work on their local listings section, newly named “Google Places,” we can only guess (and hope) that their goal is to improve the system.

In a recent change, Google Places, which used to be like wiki-listings, now requires verification from the business owner before allowing the lay person to edit a business’s listing. For correctness’s sake, thank goodness.

For convenience’s sake, we’re a little hesitant to get excited. Their confirmation process could become a real hassle. However, when optimizing for small businesses, it’s worth the extra effort to get it done right.

As for now, the best things you can to to optimize your listing include: local listings for geniuses

  • having only one listing per location
  • listing a real address, not a P.O. box
  • including as much information and media as possible
    • hours of operation
    • payment options
    • logo and other pictures of your location and services or product
    • brands, products, services, and keywords
  • making only your business name your title– without including keywords or locations
  • listing as many relevant categories as possible
  • mention any special details or extras about the location
  • avoiding duplicate information

Additionally, although they don’t seem to be making a huge effect at present, we expect that reviews will be a major factor in the future.

Ultimately, Google is looking to be the most accurate source of information about local businesses in everyone’s town or city. They’re mimicking their goal for the regular, organic search results. Much like SEO, the more you help them along with their purpose, the more friendly they’ll be with your listing.

Jamie Bates