We’re always encouraging local businesses to fully complete their Google Places listing. It’s a valuable resource for local businesses to boost local SEO, increase online visibility, post reviews, and more.
Results of a study on Google Places was recently released by Bizible, a small-business focused start-up that creates local marketing software. Per a post on Searchengineland.com by Andrew Shotland, the initial report, Google Places Optimization – Local Ranking Factors, provided results based on a study of “30 potential ranking factors by querying approximately 20 cities across approximately 20 local categories (about 400 search terms), looking 30 results deep in Google Places rankings. They looked at each factor in isolation and then looked at them in combination to see if there were any multiplier effects.”
Top 3 Factors To Improve Ranking For Pages In Integrated Results
- Places page category matches a broader category than that of the search (search for “pizza”, Places category = restaurant). This only applies of course if there is a broader category. This applies for both primary and secondary Places page categories.
- The search category appears in the business name (“Rocky’s Pizza” for a “Seattle pizza” search).
- The search category appears in the “at a glance” section.
Top 5 Factors To Improve Ranking For Pages Not In Integrated Results
- Having 5 or more Google reviews.
- Location term in “at a glance” section. (Seattle in “Seattle pizza”)
- Category term in Google review content. (pizza in “Seattle pizza” is in the contents of the Google reviews)
- Category term in business description.
- Category term in “at a glance.”
Other Interesting Nuggets
- Having a physical address in the city of the search did not turn out to be a strong ranking factor, only distance from centroid seemed to matter. So, if you are just outside the city and your address is not officially in the city, this didn’t seem to hurt any more than a business whose address was in the city, but just as far from the centroid.
- That said, for every mile away from the centroid, ranking dropped by .4 (4/10ths) of a position.
- An average Google Review score of 1 or less significantly hurt ranking (as expected), although the incremental increase in ranking as the review score increased from 2->3->4->5 ranking was negligible (interesting, no?).
- The presence of a business description did not help ranking, although having the search category in the business description did help ranking.
- Getting your 5th Google review significantly helped ranking, although incremental reviews between 1 and 4 and above 5 had a very small impact on ranking (you have to get 100+ of reviews for it to help ranking any more than just 5, so good news for much-loved businesses and review spammers).
It’s wise for a local business owner to review the report to identify how they can effectively put Google Places to work for their local business and local SEO efforts; for example, having the right categorization in Google Places matters based on the study results. If you haven’t claimed and updated your Google Places Page yet, then don’t wait another minute to do so!