Search engine optimization (SEO) continues to be an integral part of a business’s marketing campaign, and now, Google Places is making it even easier. Plus it’s free. Google Places now includes additional features on the search engine results page (SERP) when your local listing appears making you more visible and attractive to web surfers.


Visually Enhancing your Business Listing on Google Places
As shown above, the Google Places listing displays not only a map of the business location, but also photos of your products and business, details including descriptor snippets, price, nearest subway, a link to make reservations (if applicable), links to available menus and reviews. According to Brian Pasch of PCG Digital Marketing, photos and videos are the biggest missed opportunity, with 85% of business listings missing out on a complete set of photos and videos. These should be utilized to differentiate your business as they add great value to your listing and attract attention.
The Importance of Reviews and the Amazon Effect

IRM card.JPGThe number of reviews and total gold stars shown on your business listing reflects positively on your business and web surfers are more inclined to click on those specific listings first. This phenomenon is referred to as the Amazon effect, and has clearly trained consumers to click on the products (or companies, in this case) first that have the highest ratings. Reviews heavily influence buying behavior. As a best practice, it is crucial to respond to any negative reviews to make a good impression, to acknowledge the feedback and see how to make it better. It is also important to take the time to thank positive reviews. Show that you’re listening and appreciate all feedback. An easy way to encourage and acquire more reviews is through ‘Internet Reputation Management’ cards, such as the one shown above. Make it easy for your customers to provide feedback by providing them with a link or QR (quick response) code to your Google Places listing on a card so they can easily and quickly write a review at their own convenience.

The Power of Google+ and SEO Integration
Roughly 20% of the surfing population is logged into Google+ while conducting a search, according to Brian Pasch of PCG Digital Marketing. What does this mean exactly? When you’re signed into your Google+ account, the SERP includes your friends’ photo thumbnails when they share or +1 something. Your friends’ photos make these listings pop and influence click behavior. There is significant CTR on searches including Google +1s as related to the Amazon Effect. Most importantly, Google +1 takes precedent over standard SEO ranking on the SERP. This means that a specific business listing could potentially move up to the first page of the SERP when your friends +1 it, even if previously that business had no prior SEO and was on the second page.