In the series of posts on Google Places, we are breaking down what it takes to make a successful Google Places page, that is to say what it takes to make it on the first page of Google for a local business related keyword search term.
We have covered the importance of citations (business listings) and the review process. In this post we are going to look at your website and how it relates to a Google Places page.
Google Places takes the website of a business into consideration when ranking the business’s Google Places page and since Google is putting its “Places pages” above all other search results for most business related keywords, this is a significantly important thing to pay attention to for local businesses.
Website optimization has always been important in order to get that website found on line. The key elements to optimizing a website are the meta data, off page optimization and on page optimization.
This is the tagging that is found in the source code of a site. The WordPress platform is a very popular site building platform because it is very easy to place this meta data within the user friendly dashboard of a WordPress site. More traditional, static sites might require the help of your webmaster should you need to alter the meta data.
Meta data tells the search engines what your site is about. Knowing your keywords, the words that people use to search with and find your site is essential. These keywords need to be in the meta data in order to be a match for the search results.
You can easily look to see what your meta data says about a site by simply going to the home page, preforming a right click and selecting “view source code” If the title tag does not reflect a main keyword, then you are not a good match and you need to change it.
Off page optimization is information about your site on other sites around the Internet, more specifically links back to your site from other sites. This is known as backlinks. They can come from all sorts of sources including social media.
This is like a popularity contest in the eyes of the search engines. Anytime a link to your site appears on another site, it adds to your sites authority. A few key things to note are, the more authority a site has itself that has a link to your site, the more value that link will have for you, and the more relevant that site is to your site is also more valuable.
The thing to understand about on page optimization is that the more “user friendly” your site is the better your ranking will be. Google’s main objective is to give the searcher the best possible experience and when a site does this correctly, Google will reward the site by placing it higher in the results than competitors. The search engines determine the user friendliness of site by analyzing the site’s internal links. That is to say the links within a site that take the user to other places within the same site that will give the user more information. So the more you link your content together, the easier it is for a visitor to gather more information about products, services, team members, etc.
Since Google Places was created to help searchers find local business, services and products, this on page optimization has taken on even more relevance and new factor in the on page optimization is now critical.
That new factor is your NAP which stands for name, address and phone number. Google Places ranking is placing high relevance on the NAP appearing on all pages of a site. Many site creators will create a “contact us” page and only have the NAP appear on that page. When Google sees that a site has included their NAP on every page of the site and not just the contact us page, they feel that this is a better experience for the searcher as they do not have to leave the page they are on to see where the business is located. This one on page change can offer significant results.
Google Places is a great opportunity for small local businesses to get found on the Internet, but now more than ever, your website optimization is critical and is yet another strong piece to a successful Google Places page ranking.
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