Google Places Ranking Factors – You need 5 reviews!
Bizible has just published the first of five planned reports on Google Places optimisation. Google places has a massive hold on local search and local search has a massive and increasing effect on many businesses. This is a detailed and well researched report and essential reading for anyone involved in local SEO. Many of the findings are interesting and some are surprising. The full report is: Local Ranking Factors Study 1 of 5 – Google Places Optimization. Here are one or two findings:
- Having the search category in your business name is a strong ranking factor.
- Make sure your targeted search categories (keywords) and location appear in the “at a glance” section.
- The mere presence of a business description does not improve rankings. Having the search category in your business description does.
- Having an average review score of less than 1 hurts your rankings. Increasing this to just below 5 makes for some but very little improvement.
- Reaching 5 Google reviews significantly improves ranking. You have to get to 100+ for the next significant gain.!!!
Moral: Don’t write anything without keyword targeting. Hustle for 5 reviews and then don’t panic about competitors who have 40.
If local search is where it is at for you, watch out for the next 4 reports:
- On-site optimization
- In-bound links and off-site
Google working on ‘Over-optimized’ penalty
In recent training day discussions a sort of content writing mantra developed around here:
- Research your keywords
- Use natural language
- You are more likely to get in trouble for over-optimisation than under-optimisation
Here it is from the horse’s mouth, in this case Matt Cutt’s from Google:
What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO. We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.
Barry Schwartz transcribed this from the published audio of a Search Engine Land panel discussion called: Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!
The ever changing world of search results
About the only thing you can say with certainty about search is that it will be different tomorrow and a recent WSJ article points to some, apparently, radical possibilities being looked at by Google. I say apparently because it is pretty easy to argue that semantic search has been around for a long time and that the article is discussing fairly predictable consequences. That Google is looking for active ways to keep people on their site and away from the sites of competitors like Facebook, for example, is interesting. Interesting, mostly, for the effect it could have on the look of search result pages. Eye-tracking research already tells us how important such visual changes can be and SEO strategies will need to be ready to react.