If you are ranking for local keywords, Google Places should be your first and last focus. If you are not familiar with Google Places, it is the map with business listings that pops up when you search for local businesses or services. For example, “pizza in new york” will pull up all of the pizza shops in New York. Like “pizza in new york”, many of these local keywords can be quite competitive. If you are looking to rank your business or someone else’s business higher on the Google Places listings, there are a few things that you will need to do. That is what we will be discussing in this article.
Citation is to Google Places as a back link is to Google. In other words, a citation is the Google Places version of a back link. What is a citation? A citation is your businesses name, phone number and address as left on the web. Basically, it is the URL equivalent in terms of back links. Google picks up these citations and uses them to determine the ranking order for the local search term. This is Google’s way of determining what businesses are the most popular and in turn, which businesses is the audience most likely looking for. To beat this and rank a business higher, you will need to place citations all over the internet. Place them in directories, business review sites and anything local related.
The other factor in determining your Google Places ranking is location. If you can help it, you will want to be as close to the center of the city as you can get. Of course, if you have an office, you will want to use that but if you do not, you can rent a virtual office. To verify your address, you will need access to a mailbox. You can rent a virtual office (a mailbox that poses as an office) for as little as $10 per month. The amount will vary based on your location but for the most part, you should be able to shop around for a cheap rate. Use the mailbox to verify your location and you are set. Again, when you are shopping for a virtual office, try to get as close to the center of the city as you can. This will give you the greatest exposure and you will rank for the most densely populated areas.
Creating citations for Google to find and verifying an address as close to the center of a city as you can get are the two main ways in which you can rank high for local keywords. You can use this skill to gain clients in your area or package and sell your abilities to local businesses that are looking to rank for local keywords.