Milestones in a Google Places Campaign That’s Working

Progress in Google Places rankings is non-linear.  If you’re #6 for a given search term, the next ranking you achieve might be #2 or #19, but it probably won’t be #5 and then #4.

Your business is unlikely to inch up or down in the local rankings.  The problem is that can make it very tough to tell if you’re doing things effectively or back-asswards. You need some indicators that you’re at least headed in the right (or wrong) direction.

Here are a few milestones you’ll probably pass if you’re on your way to better Google Places rankings:

  • Milestone 1:  Everything you see when logged into your Google Places “Dashboard” reflects what’s “live” on your Places page (the stuff customers see).  If you make edits, it may take Google a while to process them, but if you see discrepancies that don’t go away after a couple weeks, you may have duplicate Google listings, which you’ll need to get removed.
  • Milestone 2:  Your GetListed.org score is 90-100%.  It takes a little work to achieve this, but it’s worth it.  It’s also a good indicator you’re listed on the major third-party sites, and accurately.
  • Milestone 3:  “At a glance” snippets appear on your Google Places page, and they’re at least semi-relevant to your services.  These snippets often tell you what services Google associates with your business—that is, what it thinks you’re “about.”  Get them by beefing up your listings on third-party sites with detailed info on your services and business.

Does your Google Places page have "At a glance" snippets, and are they relevant?

  • Milestone 4:  The green bars in your Places “Dashboard show that the search terms people are currently finding your Places page for are roughly the same terms you want to get visible for.  These stats aren’t always reliable, but they can help tell you whether you’re on the right track.

Check your Google Places "Dashboard" for which terms you're found for

 

Your trek up the Google Places rankings may be a bumpy one.  But it’s less disorienting if you know which milestones to look out for—and how to reach them if you haven’t already.

Can you think of any other “milestones” you’ve passed—or would like to pass?  Be a sport and leave a comment, will ya? 🙂

Google Adds "At a glance" to Places Pages

One of my clients kindly pointed out to me a tiny new addition to Google Places pages: the words “At a glance” next to the “descriptor snippets”:

New - "At a glance" next to descriptor snippets

Here’s how the “snippets” area looked before:

Before- No "At a glance" on Places page

The “At a glance” is new only to the Places page itself.  It’s not completely new to Google Places.  For the last few months it’s appeared in the preview area that you see when you hover your mouse over a local-business search result:

"At a glance" in preview area of Google Places local results

Is the addition of “At a glance” to the Places page a big deal?  Of course not.  But it’s a nice baby-step toward greater usability of Google Places.

I’ve had a number of clients (and a whole bunch of other people) ask me what those random-looking “keywords” are on their Places pages.  At least for now, I’ll still have to explain that Google culls the “keywords” from customer reviews, third-party sites and reviews (InsiderPages, CitySearch, etc.), and from your website.

I’ll also still have to explain that there’s no way to control directly what phrases wind up in the “At a glance” snippets—and that sometimes they can include nonsensical, unflattering, or downright ugly phrases.

Still, this little annotation at least will give customers and business owners a slightly better idea of what they’re looking at in this little sliver of the Places page.  That’s always good.

I’m hopeful that Google will continue to add features to the “At a glance” area, and to improve the quality and relevance of the snippets themselves.