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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.

 

AUTHOR

Phil Rozek

Phil Rozek calls LocalVisibilitySystem home. But he's a familiar face here at Whitespark - especially since we rolled out our LocalSpark program. He's a regular contributor to the annual Local Search Ranking Factors study at Moz and has spoken at events like SMX East, State of Search and MN Search.

Follow Me on Twitter
  • Phil & Darren,

    wicked post! i wish you didn’t share extra hReview rich snippet strategy nor the QR code image strategy in Google places… those were my little secrets.

    Nice work here!

  • Wow, thanks for this. You have added a number of new ideas to my arsenal. Always looking for better ways to serve my clients.

  • Great tutorial – lots of hard to find tips – really well done Phil, thanks for taking the time make such a thorough local listing data sheet.

    Andy 🙂

  • 16 Great Tips…most of them I had no idea about. Thanks!

  • Thanks Phil for your great suggestion. I will start applying some of your recommandations right away!

  • kris

    Of course we hope nobody ever reads this!
    Great stuff!!

  • Awesome, this is definitely going to be added to my GP checklist, always great to have more ways, to make my clients stand “Above and Beyond” (Wes Harrison) As we all know “pimpn’ ain’t easy!! lol

  • Wow, I knew only half of these optimisation tips and I thought I’m pretty good with Places. 😀 It turns out, I’m not good enough. :-))))
    Great post, can’t wait to test the tips myself.

  • @Matthew @Earl @Andy @ Jhoe

    Hey guys, thanks for the compliments! I ran a couple of ideas by Darren, and he saw the most promise in the “pimpin” and threw in a number of “secrets” I hadn’t thought of, so I give props to Darren for bringing it to life.

    If you can think of some techniques we didn’t think of, please don’t hesitate to let me or Darren know, and one of us will get it out there (with proper credit) one way or another!

  • Amazing post! This is the most thorough and comprehensive post I have seen on Google Listings. I have the cheat sheets that are out there but this was kick ass! I picked up some great new stuff to do to crush it for my clients. Thanks!

  • Thanks for these tips all make logical sense, I will be quizzing my so called in house SEO experts tomorrow about them.

  • Kirk Pomerleau

    Wow!!!!! Many Thanks Phil, I feel as if i just came from a 3 day seminar on this subject!!

    I will surely put these to use!!

    Thanks again!

  • Great tips! Several I didn’t know about and will start using. Thanks!

  • I believe I have the biggest and most in depth Google Places blog on the web. But my hat is off to you. These are NEW, FRESH, INNOVATIVE. Really well done.

  • Hey everybody, thanks for the great feedback and compliments…and again, if you can think of any aces up the sleeve we didn’t think of, do share!

  • This is an amazing post Phil, some really unique ideas and insights for helping local businesses make the most of their Google places page.

    I will definitely be putting these to good use. Thanks for taking the time to write such an informative post!

  • I have been looking at revamping my Google Places listing for a while but just didn’t get around to it so this has given me the boost to get it done. Thanks guys!

  • Thanks for the post – really great tips and several I never knew about so awesome work there!

  • Paying it forward. My tip is that last year’s rules no longer apply. Citations are making it happen, and my prognostication is that they will only get more important. Industry directories, dealer locators, micro local directories, clubs, associations, trade show attendance lists.

  • Great article, I will be using some of these for sure!

  • Thanks, Excellent info, so glad you shared 😉

  • Very useful article. Thanks !!! Esp. for explaining “at a glance” snippets 🙂

  • Thanks for another excellent post Phil! Very creative tips, I’m going to try them all.

  • Great advice! The QR code as a photo is something that is often missed.

  • Excellent tips

  • This is a fantastic article… I need to implement a few of these ideas.

  • @Randy
    Good call on the hyperlocal citation sources. I certainly can see that they’d grow in importance, though I don’t know that it would lessen the influence of the tried-and-true, standard-issue citation sources. But the more, the merrier – that’s for sure.

    @Susan
    Thanks for your compliments, as always. Do let me know how “pimped-out” you can get your clients’ pages!

    @All other awesome readers
    Thanks once more for the feedback! At some point I may do a post on real-life examples of businesses that apply all these techniques – so if you build a Places page that’s absolutely blinged-out, feather-boa’ed, and absolutely extravagant, do let me or Darren know about it.

  • love this article, i see a few things i need to add to my gameplan

  • Kirk Pomerleau

    People are always asking how to make a KML file for your website? Well after looking for the answer myself i came across this site that does the work for you and even tells you how to install it. Site, http://geositemapgenerator.com

  • Doug Marr

    All great tips for the local businesses that are trying to compete in their local market or for those of us that are trying to help local businesses find new customers.

  • Fantastic post Phil. Thanks for taking the time to get this wonderful information out to the masses.
    Aloha, Bob Sommers

  • An excellent blog post. You’ve taken things to a far more detailed level, highlighting how Google Places can be effectively optimized for local SEO purposes. Consider this bookmarked for reference.

  • Don @Expand2Web suggested this article and as always he is right! Thanks you for the awesome information!

  • this post is totally fantansic i love the light sense of humor throughout it too

    great work phil

  • I used to rank places pages 3 years ago – so much has changed thanks for posting this I am now having to update my clients places – a lot of work 🙂

  • I’ve read a lot of stuff on google local and how to work it. But this articles far and away is the best I’ve ever come across.

    It’s funny, cuz I thought I knew a lot about google local and after reading this I realize I still have a lot to learn. It’s a good thing I found this on contractor talk. They’re over there on that forum chatting this post up.

  • Hey guys and gals,

    Once again, thanks for your awesome feedback and compliments.

    I’ve actually been stewing on some additional “pimp-out” ideas…don’t quite have enough yet for a proper post, but you’ll be the first to know if/when I do! (Again, feel free to let me know if you’ve conjured up any such ideas.)

  • Fantastic post – totally usable information, that I’ll be putting into use for both my own websites (hReviews added tomorrow!) and those of my clients.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Lee Sonneville

    Awesome! Thanks a lot, most of these I had never thought of!

  • Great post Phil Rozek Dude. I optimize Google Places for my clients. I learned some new things and I will include them in my list. Thank you. Would you have similar tips for Yahoo and Bing Local listing?

  • @SoLoMo

    It actually didn’t occur to me to do one about Yahoo and Bing, although I’d say Google Places is more flexible and robust than Y & B.

    Any of the tips that involve photos would work on the other two. As you probably know, Bing allows you to add captions to your photos, so that makes suggestion #11 easier.

    In a way, getting a bunch of CitySearch customer review is a good way to “pimp” your Y & B listings, because your CitySearch reviews show up on your Y & B local listings *in addition* to the reviews that Yahoo or Bing users wrote directly on your listings.

    A couple of my clients use Yahoo’s “Enhanced Listing” (like $10/month). Obviously it lets you add more bells and whistles to your profile, but it also seemed to result in a significantly higher ranking in Yahoo local, so (despite my expectations) it actually seems to be a pretty good deal.

    If anyone has any other ideas for how to pimp out Bing and Yahoo listings, I’d love to hear ‘em (and maybe do a post on them)!

  • This one is going to my evergreen content bookmark list! Great actionable tips on pimping Google Places profiles…thank you!

  • This is a solid solid list of tips – great job – most people never do 75% of this stuff… bookmarked and I’ll fwd ppl over for local search info.

  • What an excellent group of tips. I’ve already used a couple and the impact is already showing in my listing. Thank you!

  • Excellent walk through – and great ideas for pimping your local listing. I am wondering how long time it takes before Google removes the possibility for double stars

  • Thanks sooo much, this is very helpful.

  • Great Google Optimisation Tips here thanks for the fantastic information

  • Awesome tips. We are for sure going to implement these tips better into the future.

  • I come back to read this post everytime I start working for a new company. Thank you for this post as it has benn a great help to my company. The only one im haveing problems with is “At a glance”. I have a few company with over 30 reviews and still dont have this, But I have 2 company with just 6 to 8 reviews and have the “At a glance”. I think there is more to it than just reviews.

  • Very helpful tips, thanks a lot for the ideas! A lot of these never would have even crossed our minds.

  • @Everybody
    Thanks again for all the great feedback and compliments!

    @Local SEO
    Great point: reviews alone don’t get “At a glance” snippets. I’ve actually found that they’re extracted from (1) reviews and (2) other info on third-party sites. Info like the descriptions you add, services you specify on these sites, and maybe also any “keywords” or “tags” fields that these sites allow you to fill in. So if you make sure your clients’ third-party listings are really filled-out, that’ll probably help them get the snippets. It also tends to take a while: it seems to be at least a month or two for the snippets to show up (although you probably *have* given it plenty of time if your client has 30 reviews).

  • Excellent post! Exactly the tips I was looking for all in one place. I will definitely be revisiting this post often to make sure our places are totally pimped out–thanks!

  • Hi Phil, it seems that Offers/Coupons are no longer available in the UK.

    Any idea why and if there are plans for it to be reinstated?

    Mark

  • @NishikaJG
    Thank you!

    @Mark
    Yes, I believe there have been problems with Offers in the UK. I’m not really in-the-know regarding the details (the whos and whys), but Nyagoslav from NGS Marketing did a post on this problem on May 8. He’ll be better-suited than I am at the moment to help shed light on what’s going on.

  • Great post. Am trying out the hreview and geotagging today!

    Another good tip for places:
    If you want to turn up in the 7 pack for a particular phrase Google looks at the phrases on your home page for relevance. Put that phrase in the first heading on your page (and in the meta title).

  • Really struggling to make an impact with Google Places, will try some of these tips.

  • Now with google + local taken over, it seems to have thrown all of this out!

  • Hey Michael,

    Yeah, the new Google+Local pages have caused some of this to go the way of MySpace, the do-do bird, and hair metal.

    But suggestions 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15 will still serve you well. Suggestions 1, 2, 3 won’t hurt. You can still pull off #5 if you use the new “Links” feature on your Google+Local page. 16 MAY still apply.

    I’m thinking about doing a “How to Pimp Your Google+Local Page” post. I’ve got some ideas. I’ll certainly do it if there’s popular demand 🙂

  • I really enjoyed reading this post. I have referenced a couple times in the last month while trying to update my reviews.

    I have one question for anybody to answer though. I have 5 reviews on my profile now and the stars still aren’t showing up. Is it a new change that Google did where you need for reviews now?

  • Hey Ben,

    Thanks for the compliments!

    Good question. Ever since Google+Local came out, you need 10 reviews for your average rating to show up. It’s a shame that you no longer get review stars; they popped out nicely. Now it’s just the 30-point Zagat scale.

    But the good news is that because the bar is now twice as high – 10 reviews rather than 5 – your listing will still stand out once you get up to 10 stars, and there may actually be fewer competitors of yours who’ve reached that threshold

  • Thanks. Very good post! exactly what I needed

  • What an article!

    You can really notice how with the examples you listed, your eye is drawn to them away from the top listing.

    Time to get pimping!

  • Some Great tips! Several I didn’t know about and will start using. Thanks!

  • There is some really cool information here which I can implement immediately. Best post I”ve seen on this topic so thank you!

  • Great article however, you are giving away a few of what i thought were my secrets. Nevermind, sharing is always better … ahem.

  • Thanks for the great feedback, everybody!

    I’d love any suggestions for a new version of this post I’ll do one of these days: “How to Pimp Your Google+Local Page”

  • Thanks for the post lots of new ideas and new techniques, atleast for me. i’ve got a question, is there a way to pull out citations profile of a website? just like how we can pull out backlink profile of a particular domain.

  • Darren Shaw

    @saisai,

    Yes, run a phone number search in the local citation finder: https://www.whitespark.ca/local-citation-finder/

  • Carol Moore

    how do you do number 5?

  • @Carol

    Re. #5, many “web years” have passed since I posted this. In that time, Google deprecated the original “post” feature I referred to, and then later added it back in a totally different form – but with the same name.

    What I’d suggest now is publishing a post under the “Posts” tab on your Google+ Local listing. That requires having the “new,” AKA “upgraded,” AKA “social” type of Google local page.

    Without knowing anything about your situation, I’d say there’s a 70% chance you have it. But if you don’t see the “Posts” tab on your page, all you can do is wait until Google gives you that feature.

  • Hi, just wondering if you ever got round to doing that updated post “How to Pimp Your Google+Local Page”? Thanks 🙂

  • netta

    hi i have a locksmith company in gainesville fl. for some reason my competitor is the only business showing when searching for terms as “locksmith gainesville” and similar terms. this problem is happening on and off for the last 6 month. I contact google many time by phone and they don’t have a clue of whats going on or how to solve it. can you help?

  • Phil: There seems to be some confusion in my office as to whether it is most appropriate to put a face picture or an image of the outside of the building on the G+ for business. What is the correct answer? What about for the personal G+?

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