How to Pimp Your Google Places Listing
You may have seen the show Pimp My Ride, where they’d take a beat-up old car and turn it into a sleek, smooth-running street beast. But they wouldn’t stop there. The custom-body shop might put a spoiler and monster-truck wheels on a sedan…or install a pool table in the back of a pickup…or put a giant fish tank in the back seat. Turning the ordinary into the overblown…AKA “pimping it out.”
Your Google Places business listing may never be quite as wild as your dream car. But you can take your ho-hum Places page and make it not only better-performing, but also flashier than anything else on your block. You can pimp it out. By doing so, not only can you get your business more visible in Google Places, but you can also make it eye-poppingly flashy and more attention-worthy in the eyes of any potential customers who visit your page.
In no particular order…
Here Are 16 Ways You Can Pimp Your Places Page:
1. Get your Google Places page to 100% completeness, before you do anything else. Your Places page isn’t exactly “pimped-out” if Google itself is telling you you’re missing some of the basics. (If you’re not sure how to get to 100%, this pie chart will help.)
2. Make sure you get at least 5 Google reviews from your customers, so that your average customer-review rating shows up on your Places page and on the SERPs.
3. Get DOUBLE sets of average-review stars. You can do this by adding at least one customer testimonial to your website in what’s called hReview microformat. Basically, hReview is a type of code you can use to tell Google “Hey, this is a testimonial from one of my customers…pay attention to it!” Having just one set of golden stars show up in the search results can boost your click-through rate; having two sets of can drive even more clicks from potential customers. See this excellent post by Linda Buquet for more on how to do this.
4. Upload as many photos as you humanly can to major third-party sites, particularly CitySearch, InsiderPages, and Thumbtack. You personally can only upload 10 photos to your Places page, but it’s possible to have more than 10 show up on your Places page. How? Google pays attention to the info that third-party sites have on your business. If you can supply those third-party sources with plenty of photos, Google often will grab those photos and put them on your Places page (in addition to the 10 photos you personally can upload directly to your Places page. Upload photos as many different sites as you can (it’s OK to reuse some of the same photos from site to site). By the way, you may be able to “feed” extra photos to Google by having a “Gallery” page on your website.
Bonus tip: before uploading, use GeoSetter to geo-tag them with the lat and long of the business, and add NAP and keywords to the meta data.
5. Add a “post” to your Places page that includes a link to a particularly cool page, photo gallery, special offer, or newsletter sign-up area on your website. One of the most basic purposes of your Places page is to get people to check out your site. It’s easy to forget about the humble “post” feature-most business owners never even learn of it-but it’s worth using if there’s a specific area of your site you’d really like potential customers to see.
6. Reply to every customer review written on your Places page. Fine, maybe you don’t have reply to every one, but you should get in the habit of thanking the customers who leave you nice reviews, and graciously responding to the few who don’t. Most importantly, this looks good to potential customers. It’s also good way to fill out the reviews area of your page a little more, and to slip in occasional tidbits about your services that maybe you didn’t have a way to mention anywhere else on your page. See this great post from Andrew Shotland on how best to respond to negative reviews.
7. Get “Best Ever” reviews. These little badges make for nice “bling” on your Places page. Plus, they automatically count as 5-star reviews. Your customers need to go to places.google.com/rate and search for your business by name in order to leave you “Best Ever” reviews.
8. Turn a couple of customer testimonials into photos, and upload the photos to your Places page. I’ve never actually seen this done (though I’m sure someone’s done it). This is useful if a great customer wrote you a shining testimonial (in an email, in a letter, on a grain of rice…whatever) that you’d like potential customers to see, but you never asked that person to post a review for you. (If you’re interested, I discuss this technique more in this post.)
9. Get as many customer reviews as you can on 3 or 4 third-party sites. At the bottom of your Places page, Google features up to 3 links that go to third-party sites where customers have written you reviews. Up to 4 of these links also show up in your “preview” area, which customers see when they hover their cursors over your Places listing from the main search results page.
10. If possible, ask your most loyal customers – or bestest friends 😉 – to upload photos to your Places page through their Google accounts. These will show up as “From a Google user.” This is another approach to getting more than 10 photos on your Places page (which is the maximum number that you can upload personally). This can help potential customers realize “Hey, these people actually have customers who give a rip…they might be OK. Maybe I’ll give them a buzz.”
11. Add a caption to the first photo you upload. You’ll want to pick this photo-and its caption-carefully because everyone who’s on your Places page will see it. Unlike Bing, Google Places doesn’t have a way to add captions to photos, so you’ll have to save the caption as part of the image itself, and then upload the photo to your places page.
12. Add several different “Offers”-AKA coupons-to your Places page. You could absolutely go crazy with offers and add tons of them, if you wanted to: I once added 10 to my listing, just to see if I could. I’m sure I could have added many more if my trusty mouse finger didn’t give out. As long as you comply with Google’s guidelines, you can add a bunch of coupons to your listing (as long as they’re semi-decent offers, and as long as you don’t have so many that it just looks weird to potential customers).
13. Add photos to your “Offers.” However many of them you have on your page, they’ll be a little more noticeable and enticing if they’re not just blobs of text.
14. Get enough reviews that the “At a glance” snippets appear on your Places page. I’ve yet to discover exactly how many reviews you need in order for “At a glance” snippets to appear on your page, but I do know these snippets are extracted from some combination of your Google reviews, reviews written on third-party sites, and other info on third-party sites (like business descriptions). If you’re more or less diligent about citation-building and asking customers for reviews, you’ll almost certainly get good “At a glance” snippets.
15. Upload a photo of a QR code to your Places page. Even these days, not everyone has a smartphone, so not everyone can scan QR codes, but many people just LOVE scanning them. QR codes are like catnip for some people. You can have the QR code take them to a page of your website, another website-pretty much anything. It doesn’t really matter: the idea here is to boost engagement and make your Places page a little flashier.
16. See if you can snag an award, like “Best of CitySearch” or the “Angie’s List Super Service Award,” from third-party review sites. These often show up on your Places page-and look mighty nice if you can get them. Whether or not you can even find such awards largely depends on your industry: even if you’re the best glass-blower or cape-maker in your time zone, there may not be an award that you can get displayed on your Places page.