Don’t be scammed by Google Places optimization services, and here’s why there are only certain fields that Google Places now allows you as the business owner to update. Here is the list:
- Zip Code
- Main Phone Number
- Five Service Category but only from Google’s list
- Five of your own categories
- Latitude and Longitude
That’s it! No keyword dense title or business description, nothing more than the list above. If you are approached by a supposed Google Places optimization service that says you need a special title and more keyword density, understand that they are not selling a program that they can deliver. You can only affect changes to the above elements.
If they say they will load hundreds of reviews, steer clear of them. There is no faster way to get your listing banned on Google Places than to have suddenly a bunch of new reviews suddenly appear. Once banned, you may never be able to get back in and with a strong location focus as the future of search, you could really be creating future problems for yourself.
For more information you can check out the attributes on this Google page.
Google just released a new Google Places bulk upload option for businesses that have 10 or more locations and want to upload their account using a spreadsheet. Once you use the verification tool for the first ten businesses, you won’t have to go through the verification process again.
This new bulk upload option is available for all account from a link in the Google Places interface. What this tool is not, is a way to scam Google Places with fictitious addresses. You’ll get nailed on that one, so don’t waste time trying.
Although this feature is not for every business owner, it will make it easier for larger businesses to manage their locations and perform updates quickly. You can view the tutorial from Google Places to see if this may be a tool perfect for your needs.
I read with interest an article in the Washing on Post on Sunday about how Doctors are combating online reviews by requiring patients to sign that they will not review the doctor or their services online in exchange for keeping the patient’s email address private from third party marketing use.
I found the article troubling, as I have used online reviews to select a doctor before and routinely review a physician online before scheduling an appointment. Of issue was what almost appeared to me to be blackmail – “don’t share your experience or we’ll sell your email to spammers”. Worse yet, was the closing paragraph where one physician reviewed stated that he/she routinely goes online and writes glowing fake reviews about themselves.
The importance of legitimate online reviews for both physician review and even for Google Places simply cannot be downplayed. As reviews become more important for online businesses and localized search results become more predominant in search results on Bing.com and Google.com I am expecting the search engines to roll out this year an authorization tie in to one of your social profiles to afford legitimacy. In fact, I feel that in light of this article clear identification and legitimacy of online reviews is overdue.
As to businesses and the physician in this case requiring a patient to sign away review rights for services to be provided, is simply draconian and worthy of boycott.
Claiming your Google Places page for you business is a very good idea, but what can you expect after you claim your page?
Just because you claim your Google Places page does not mean that your Places page will automatically appear in local search and Google Maps results immediately. It is important to know that Google sometimes has as long as a four week delay before your Places page appears regularly in the search results.
I have found that it takes time for your Google Places page to appear, once set up your page will not be shown automatically the first day you update your account. Sometimes you may wait as long as four weeks before your page appears regularly.
Here are my recommendations for Google Places:
- Claim your page.
- Add 10 photos and your comments, consider adding a special coupon promotion.
- Link to your Google Places page on your blog and in your email signature.
- Regularly ask satisfied customers to leave reviews on your Google Places page.
- Schedule an update of your page every 30 days. Update your comments and your photos.
- Be patient, but be proactive.
- If you feel that you are not getting the exposure you want, consider using Google AdWords Express tied to your Google Places page for faster visibility.
I cannot begin to tell you the stories that I have heard about Google dropping Google Places pages and how this has impacted businesses; strangling their local placement and impacting sales from business owners who call us for help. The common thread in all of these stories has been that the business in question has tried to manipulate Google Places results and as a consequence Google has dropped their page or pages – disastrously impacting their business.
First, it is very important to remember that Google Places is a free service. Your Google Places page is created using Google’s free tools. You use the program by adhering to Google’s rules. There is no complaining to Google, no customer service line, and no recourse when you get caught scamming the system.
Frequently this is what I see a business doing that gets it dropped from the Place index:
- Created multiple pages using addresses that may be rental properties locations, friends’ home addresses, and even corner gas station addresses.
- Tried to set up a Places page using a fictitious address or old address they have used before.
- Tried to scam the verification system.
How can you fix a situation where your Places Page has been dropped from the Google index?
- If you don’t have a legitimate office location in the area you will never be able to get and verify your Places page. There is no work around, no manipulating that can be done to force Google to set up, verify, and show your Places page.
- If you have been dropped due to trying to manipulate placement your only recourse is to delete all Places pages you have created and then set up a Places page again with the correct information.
Often I hear a business owner say, “I don’t want to delete my Places page as I will lose my reviews!” If Google has dropped you from the Places index your page isn’t showing anyway. Understand that reviews are tied to your business name not a Google Places page. Google knows your address not from what you tell it in Google Places set up, but rather from spidering pages about your business from around the Web. There is no fooling Google into thinking that you have a new location when you do not.
Even with a clean set up there is simply no guarantee that Google will show your Google Places page in their index. Remember, this is a free service with the rules and penalties set up and governed by Google on THEIR platform. If you don’t play the game their way, they have every right to exclude your content from their index.
Google has been changing the information it shows on Google Places pages this last month. Here are a few updates that they have made and adjustments to our service offerings due to the changes.
First, it is important to know that we do not guarantee any specific placement on Google Places or improvement in your current placement. You should be very careful of using any firm that does guarantee this. Google has not revealed any specific information about how to optimize for Google Places to any resource and in fact we have debunked some of the techniques used by “Google Places guaranteed placement firms” and have written extensively on the topic of best practices for Google Places.
Since November 2011, typically your Google Places listing will link directly to your website. There may be a link in your listing that will forward readers to your Google Places review section, but no longer does Google force a reader to view a Google Places page in order to find out information about that business. Although we do cannot definitively identify that our updates to categories and additional details make a difference when Google “racks and stacks” the results for location specific searches, those elements that were hidden previously in Google’s Google Places recent updates are now again visible to readers who visit your Google Places page when they click an arrow to open up the additional information fields.
Google will only show four service categories and now only the first four or five additional detail items you list in your Google Places account. As a result our monthly service update pricing has changed from $40 a month to $25 a month. This service is only available to accounts who have used our set up service which costs $240. As an honest web services provider who wants to make sure that all we do benefits you on the Web, our decrease in service charges is based on the lower amount of time to update your account on a monthly basis.
You can read more about our Google Places Set Up services on our website.