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Google Places importance on Local

4 minute read

A few years ago Google developed something called ‘Google Local’, a subset of its listings that are devoted to local businesses. The local business owner could then verify their ‘local listing’ and enhance it with their logo, photos, comments, opening hours, etc, and the public could make comments (‘reviews’) and these would appear alongside.

Most of you would be used to seeing these local business results turning up at the top of the standard organic results on Google, such that when you search “Subiaco dentist” or “Nedlands chiropractor” or “Fremantle real estate agent” these results appear on a little map at the top of the listings. It is free to grab your space, and only the first 7 results are shown. Although SEO and other work can break you into the top 7,  it is far easier to get there by ‘owner verifying’ your listing before another 7 do it before you.  The results also appear on Google Maps, and I remember using this info and the reviews to pick my hotel in New York when I visited earlier this year. A great result as it turned out, the latest reviews proved to be spot on.

Very few business operators seem to know about this. Most local business results are there because Google has found them not because the owner has verified them (for instructions on how to verify, please see below.)

Well, Google is about to “up the pace“, and I have it on good authority (Clay Cook, Founder and CEO of ineedhits.com) that these listings are about to be included within the normal search results sending a larger map to the right of the results page, thus bringing Google Local (or ‘Google Places’ as it seems to have been renamed) and organic results together (see image above for ‘real estate agent Cottesloe’). So now is the time to grab your ‘Place’ – be you a real estate agency office or any type of business really. It is about to become very important, as Google has already started rolling out this change worldwide. Considering that the majority of Internet activity starts with a search, and 87% of this is on Google, then grabbing your ‘place’  is crucial.

Currently it looks like only affecting “real estate agent SUBURB” type local queries – but it may expand in future to include more terms such as “real estate SUBURB“. This will superimpose over the SEO results you have been striving for on these exact terms. For some queries the Google Place results appear above the organic results (see ‘toys’ example below). Also note how the query was not just “Toy Store Cottesloe”… but “toys Cottesloe”.

OK, so how do you grab your ‘Place’ ?
1. http://places.google.com/ sign in with a gmail account and add the listing you want with appropriate keywords.

2. A confirmation process occurs and Google rings you (yes, they do) on the phone number you entered giving you your code.

3. Make sure someone gets that Google phone call (it happens immediately!) and then write down the code and enter it.

4. Complete your ‘Google Places’ listing and update it regularly. (Post it to Facebook, ask clients to add their comments and testimonials.)

5. Alternatively, consult a search engine marketing company – many seem to be offering to do this for you for $600-$1000.

Acknowledgement: thanks to Clay Cook from ineedhits.com

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16 Comments

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 11:48 am 0Likes

    Great article Charlie..Google’s new layout means that the Agent reviews appear more visible (with a link within the organic search section) which means that they are now more likely to be clicked open than they were previously.

    Agents will need to monitor the reviews on their Google Places and ensure that they have good reviews appearing from their clients.

    Sites like http://www.TrueLocal.com.au, http://www.RaveAboutIt.com.au, http://www.PropertyScope.com.au use Google Rich Snippets which means that the reviews now appear right next to an agents’ listing on Google Places.

  • Craig
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 12:55 pm 0Likes

    Google seem to be upping the ante with their search UI in the last 12 months. I wonder how long until their real estate listings are directly in the search results.

  • Charlie
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm 0Likes

    Exactly Craig – excellent point; it would be an easy thing to switch on. Maybe they’ll let the Google Places filter their way into our search consciousness first…

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 2:07 pm 0Likes

    Interesting to see this agent claiming the Place Page of another agency who used to be operating within the Mosman area.

    Maddisons are the agents but yet I found them because a Place Page for Paton Pidcock Real Estate appeared on the first page of Google for a search on the keyword Real Estate Agent Mosman.

    Here’s the Place Page…

    http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=real+estate+agent+mosman&fb=1&hq=real+estate+agent&hnear=Mosman+New+South+Wales,+Australia&cid=1046890265129931959&ei=41HbTJvaJY-lcZCg5MMG&sqi=2&ved=0CGsQ4gkwCA&mid=1289441809

    The Place Page currently has 4 reviews.
    Here’s one of their reviews…Feb 6, 2009
    Rated 1.0 out of 5.0
    “Deceiving?? Paton Pidcock Real Estate has NEVER had anything to do with Maddisons Real Estate. To suggest otherwise is unethical, a misrepresatation and highly misleading. Paton Pidcock Real Estate IS NOT in Harbour Street Mosman. Paton Pidcock Real Estate was in Ben Boyd Rd Neutral Bay, but when John Pidcock retired in 2005, Paton Pidcock Real Estate ceased trading. If you are considering selling or buying in the Lower North Shore, you can speak with David Murphy, who worked at Paton Pidcock Real Estate for over 10 years, was the Sales Manager at the agency and when John Pidcock retired, David established David Murphy Real Estate with John’s approval.”

    It’s interesting to see that another review posted anonymously has 5 stars and says…

    “It was actually quite fortunate that I found Maddisons through this link as they became our agent.” and then they go on to rave about Maddison’s service and state… “I might have originally been looking for Paton Pidcock, but it was good karma that we ended up with Maddisons.”

    Maddisons have posted their own review & then there’s another one from someone called Val.

    The fact that they have secured the http://www.patonpidcock.com domain name & redirected the URL to their Maddison website may show some relationship or they may have just bought the URL when it expired???

    Maybe, they bought the Paton Pidcock rent roll or some other marketing rights??? Who knows, but from what you can see on this Place Page currently is that it smells of misrepresentation.

    It also provides a great example of how comments on Google’s Places can impact an agency’s reputation.

    PS: Robert Simeon, this agent is one of your competitors, can you shed any light on this?

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 3:59 pm 0Likes

    Greg,

    They may be in Mosman however I would not consider them one of our competitors as I know very little about them and have never ever come across them. Paton Pidcock was a Jenman office and ceased operations approximately ten years ago.

    As for Maddisons I did not know that they exist as I have never seen them advertise before. I assume that they purchased the URL and that would be all – asked around the office and nobody has seen or heard of them.

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 4:44 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Robert, I get the relationship now.

    They have Jenman’s book promoted on their site http://www.maddisons.com.au//page-maddisons-maddisons-real-estate-mosman-auctions-terry-ryder-41.html

    So that must give them the right to promote themselves over the internet under a different business name (because Paton Pidcock was previously a Jenman agent). Yeah right!!!

    I wonder if they’ll have to pay back any of the commissions they’ve received due to what could be perceived as false & misleading conduct.

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm 0Likes

    Amazing to see how quickly the Paton Pidcock Place Page listing has been changed since I posted my comment earlier today.

    Paton Pidcock no longer appear in the first set of search results http://screencast.com/t/0yZWbfv7MG45 and the original listing now comes under Maddisons.

    But if you click the Place Page for Maddisons it still points over to the Paton Pidcock Place Page as seen here http://screencast.com/t/z8xKzyh32t9 which then links across to the reviews shown here http://screencast.com/t/WrZCjj30Gq1D

    If you are an agent who is looking to create a Place Page for your business, here’s an article from Google that may be worth reading first…

    http://googlesmb.blogspot.com/2010/10/tips-for-creating-free-business-listing.html

    In the article Google says “Your business listing title must match the business name you use in the real world (e.g. on signage, letterheads or business cards) in order to comply with our Google Places quality guidelines. Listings that are in violation of these guidelines may be suspended and won

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 9:33 pm 0Likes

    Our traffic from Google Places increased by about 600% about 3 or 4 months ago and has been consistent since then. The actual views are pretty similar but the clicks have increased because of the new interface improvements. We have just opened up another office (hence why I have been a little quiet on here) and one of the first things I did was setup the Google Places page for the new office.

  • Mac
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 11:29 pm 0Likes

    We ‘claimed’ our address for our accommodation business a while back and ‘work’ on it now and then. The results are terrific. It actually works like a mini templated, boring website but I am amazed at how many direct ‘opens’ we get (people actually clicking for more information). This proves to me just how vital good Google exposure is to any business!

    (And as an aside, for real estate agencies, the new Google ‘Preview’ launched yesterday in the US will make design even more important as viewers will see your website without clicking on it – If it’s no good they might avoid it despite its high ranking, which will of course then lead to its lower ranking!!)

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 1:22 am 0Likes

    Mac, it will become a very interesting development for agents because the new Google Preview looks like it will add a whole new dimension to search and what sites gets clicked open and not.

    It doesn’t currently support flash so a number of agents websites will come up with a big picture of the piece out of a puzzle that iPad and iPhone users would be used to seeing and could be taking web design another step towards the demise of Flash altogether.

  • Vic
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 7:56 am 0Likes

    Great article. Whilst it was google’s intention to set this up for small businesses operating in a particular locality, it seem to be also utilized by the corporates.
    I see REA and LJ Hooker slipping into it. I wonder whether google is monitoring it’s use/abuse.

    Nevertheless, I am amazed that agents haven’t picked up on this sooner. Perhaps you are about to start a stampede Charlie, where the value will be diminished over time.

  • Penelope Johnson
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 11:32 pm 0Likes

    Hmmmm

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted November 13, 2010 at 12:25 am 0Likes

    Maybe I missed this previously, but has anyone else noticed that you can now search the ljhooker.com site & the Century21.com.au site directly from Google?

    http://screencast.com/t/aLcmQmNUh

    When you do search through the Google search tool it comes up with a list of pages for the lj hooker site and the Century 21 site on Google and then you click through to the relevant page on their site.

    I’m not sure that this is such a good move by the franchises because surely it would have to impact on their traffic to their home page.

    Either way, they’ll need to make sure that the agent’s profile pages are really engaging & impressive.

  • Ab
    Posted November 15, 2010 at 6:08 pm 0Likes

    Maddisons have been around for 6 years and do a great job in the area for a competitor not to no there competition and who operates locally is an agent who doesn’t know there local market place or what there competition do How can they seroiusly be good agent then??? Maddsions have sold hundreds of homes in the area and do so on a no sale no fee service im pretty sure this agent who says he doenst no who they are no’s exactly who they are

    WHY Advertise and waste money when there are hundreds of buyers looking in sydney AND 95% OF INQUIRY COMES FROIM SIGNS AND INTERNET

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted November 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm 0Likes

    Interesting to see that Google have just released Google Hotpot which is a recommendation engine for Places.

    http://mashable.com/2010/11/16/google-hotpot/

    I’ve just been playing around with it and it appears that the agents with reviews rank the highest on the hotpot search page (at the moment).

    I did a couple of searches of agents in different suburbs but most agencies didn’t have an image attached to their listing (to which Google says that they are ‘Camera Shy – No photo available’).

    As an example, here’s a search I did within Google HotPot for a Penrith Real Estate Agent… http://screencast.com/t/L0aYMHiBkIn

  • Linda - Australia Logo design
    Posted December 6, 2010 at 10:15 pm 0Likes

    Google Places is giving lot of online business to local small business by giving them a platform to display themselves

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