• http://www.brettadamsga.com Anthony Brett Adams

    Great list, I agree with all of these completely. I help clients with this pretty often, and these small things can make a big difference.

  • http://mikemunterseo.com/ Mike Munter

    Hi Chris,

    Re: point #3 in your post

    I’m getting ready to work with a home inspector client who is physically located in a small town 20 miles from a major city. He ranks in Google Places in the small town but not in the major city. Everything I am doing (description, tags, website, anchor text backlinks, etc) is mentioning that he serves the big town and I am getting ready to turn off the address in Google Places and indicate the service area being the major city. (This is what Google recommends).

    Do you have experience with this situation and can you further advise how to get my small town home inspector to rank in the major city he services?

    Thanks
    Mike

  • http://silvery.com Chris Silver Smith

    Mike, as I allude to in #3, this doesn’t seem to function as Google recommends nor as one would expect it should. It’s something that Google is conservative about in order to try to protect against spam, so one seems to need to devote even more efforts at beefing up other ranking factors to overcome the apparent algorithmic reticence — particularly trustworthiness factors.

    You’re better off having a local street address which can be listed for the business, in most cases. But, if you want to fight the uphill battle, refer to our other Search Engine Land articles on Local SEO tips for elements that you’ll want to beef up to augment chances of ranking for a Service Area.

  • http://www.windingroad.co.nz JohnHS

    Hi Chris, so a 1-800 number needs to be backed up with the local version, near the address?

  • http://silvery.com Chris Silver Smith

    JohnHS, a phone number with a local area code is considered more optimal than a generic 1-800 number. It seems that Google user experience testing has found that consumers prefer to see an obviously-local phone number when selecting businesses in search results. So, using the local, direct number as the primary number for the Place Page would be best, then list the 800 number as the secondary phone #.

  • http://www.localseoguide.com Andrew Shotland

    Nice one as usual Chris. While I agree with every one of your points i am looking at some fake listings in a major metro that have been there for at least a year so while I would never recommend you do this, it does seem to work at least some of the time. At some point Google will toast them, but for now some spammers are getting rich at the expense of other more legit locals.

  • http://www.weaversites.com H.H.

    With recent major changes in Local profiles and how they are displayed, this is very timely information. In the past year I’ve had to do a lot of Local listing damage control for clients. You would not believe the amount of outdated or incorrect information is out there, and how difficult it can be to correct it. Do it right the first time and then stay on top of it. Not to mention, those Local profiles are extremely valuable marketing channels! Very nice column, I’ll spread it around.

  • http://www.weaversites.com H.H.

    @Mike Hunter, I face this very same problem often in the geo-location of my clients. The only city/metro area that gets any cred here is Asheville NC yet SO many businesses are located in very nearby towns and zip codes. In the case of a Home Inspector, within the Google Places profile you can specify that your client serves customers at their locations, then identify the service area covered by your client. That will definitely help.

    In my area, Western North Carolina, most businesses have a customer base that is truly regional in nature. Google Places (and the equivalents) really stink at recognizing REGIONS. A home inspector is actually better off than most in that you can define a service area in their Google Places profile.

    You may also want to consider augmenting organic with PPC that’s targeted at the regional level. That’s one of the few tools we’ve got in this situation.

    Also, take advantage of any possible quality listings (such as chamber of commerce and the few remaining credible online directories) to mention the service area.

  • http://www.weaversites.com H.H.

    Sorry for all of a sudden getting involved in this discussion but it’s a huge issue in my area.
    I have a question: do any of you run into a situation where the local postal service will ONLY deliver mail (such as a Google Verification Letter) to their P.O.Box and will NOT deliver it to the business’ actual street address? This is a common problem in my area.

    This is where I do make use of the alternate delivery address options when submitting a Google Places (local ) listing. But what the heck do you do when the zip code is actually different? It happens a lot here. You ultimately end up in a Mobius loop of trying to verify a business that is physically located in Zip Code A but the post office will only deliver mail to the P.O.Box in zip code B.
    Argh – there has got to be a better verification method!

  • http://www.andreamoro.co.uk/ Andrea Moro

    I’m sure a reference to their official guidelines is worth too

    http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/answer.py?answer=107528&hl=en

  • http://silvery.com Chris Silver Smith

    Andrew, I think all those fake listings are just one flagging away from getting tanked in the SERPs! All it takes are a couple of tattle-tale competitors and…

  • http://silvery.com Chris Silver Smith

    H.H., the situation you describe of a locality that ONLY has P.O.Box addresses is a nightmare for Google Places rankings! Where is that?

  • http://seocowboy.co.za Bryan Casson

    Can’t say I agree with the P.O.Box point. I use a P.O.Box and Google simply took out my PO box and took the closest street and made that my address. I rank very well in places in all major keywords for my location

  • http://silvery.com Chris Silver Smith

    Bryan, I think you have actually made my point.

  • http://www.landofjacks.com L.J.

    Local listings are a hot topic in SEO lately, but I haven’t come across any advice for nationwide businesses. My company does business all over the country, is it worthwhile making a local listing? Should I be looking to get my business listed in other cities around the country (maybe by doing “office shares” where you get a physical address)?

  • http://www.brettburky.com brettburky

    Hello Chris,

    First off great post I had no clue about the tracking numbers…I always did that with Kall8, now I won’t anymore.

    I have a situation where I’m doing a doctor practice and there is 10 doctors all under the same roof. I have hesitated creating the local accounts with all the same address, as I thought this might be a red flag. Last thing I want is them to get their listing delisted at my ignorance.

    Do you have any suggestions for this?
    Your reply is greatly appreciated.