5 Tips to Rank in Google’s Integrated Organic and Places Listings
In October 2010, Google slowly started rolling out a new local search results format which combined organic results with information from Google Places, thereby integrating the two into one combined listing.
If your small business depends on search engine traffic to thrive and grow, then you may have noticed some key changes that occurred as a result of the new integrated local search results:
- With the map being pushed to the right hand side, effectively pushing down sponsored results even further below the fold, it’s become even more important to secure the #1 ranked paid search result.
- If your business had two mentions on the 1st page of Google (say your home page and your inner page), you will now have only one mention.
- The integrated results present much richer information to a searcher, including a snapshot of your website (thanks to Google instant previews), your business address, phone number, selected reviews, and star ratings. Ultimately while this makes information easier to access, it does give the searcher more opportunities to just use Google places rather than visit your website.
One of the most telling changes has come about for business owners who had strong organic optimization but poor Google Places optimization, and vice-versa. In our tests and research, the new algorithm closely weights both organic and place page ranking factors, with a higher weighting on prior organic optimization.
This has brought about two key complaints amongst business owners I speak to:
- Good Organic, but Poor Places Optimization. I used to have top organic rankings even above local results at times, but now my organic listing has not integrated with my place page listing, forcing my results down the 1st page to around the 7th-9th position.
- Poor Organic, but Good Places Optimization. I used to have a great ranking in the 7-pack of Google maps results, but since the change I have been pushed back to the 2nd page and beyond.
Here are 5 steps to remedy both situations and gain the newly coveted integrated local search ranking you seek:
- Build more local links that mention your business name, address, phone number, and URL. These may range from links that are also citations for local search, or they may be unstructured references such as those in guest posts, YouTube videos, and tweets. Aim to get these links from other local sites such as local bloggers, businesses, directories, or your chamber of commerce.
- Make sure your place page URL matches your website URL exactly. In our research, changing tracking URLs such as domain.com/city which might have been used to separately track maps traffic back to the original domain.com seems to jump-start the integration process.
- Check the accuracy of your existing citations. Make sure your citations have accurate Name, Address, and Phone number data and ensure that the same is represented on your website. Check to see if your business has fragmented data using the tool at GetListed.org.
- Make updates to your place page. As simple as this sounds, editing the main areas of your Google Place Page can often jump-start the integration process. In our experience, editing the text areas such as the description of your business seems to have a better effect than editing or adding images and videos.
- Just because directories don’t rank anymore doesn’t make them less useful. Since the new integrated results depend on strong organic and local search optimization, getting links from respected local, niche, or industry specific directories is still important. Just take any claims that being included in such as directory will propel you to the top with a grain of salt, as all it takes is a basic listing (often free) to deliver the desired results.