How to rank higher in Google Places / Local in the UK

Google Places is the single biggest change to the natural search results this year and considering the resources Google are investing in making the system work its something that every single website needs to start using.

At present Google Places results are shown for geographical queries such as “plumber in Leeds” as well as the more general “plumbers” query. In the future I can imagine Google will start showing these results for pretty much everything.

My feeling is that the recent changes are very positive. The old Google Local system wasn’t very good and the move towards a single algorithm will mean more investment and better services for website owners. Already the results are impressive, we’ve run some tests and you can now edit your listings and the changes will appear in the main Google Places search results in real time. Being able to change a Google search result in real time was unheard of until this new system rolled out.

Another big improvement is the way Pending Listings are actually being reviewed now rather than sitting in a queue for months. We’re seeing review times of sub 24 hours now which is excellent.

One of the strange bugs/features in the system is that the Places results are not using the URLs submitted via Google Local Business Center which means tracking tags are being lost.

This post is intended as a brief overview of the way to rank higher, for full details read the excellent Local Search Ranking factors article.

The first step is to get your business verified via post or phone and then to fill in your entire listing. Don’t miss anything out. Then make sure you tag your URLs with Google Analytics tags, you can either just copy the format below or use the Google URL builder.
?utm_source=Google_Local&utm_medium=Local&utm_campaign=Leeds_Central

The next step is to build some citations around the web, citations are the equivalent of links in Google Places. First of all you need to find existing mentions of your business and make sure they all use the same details, address, URL, phone number. Try tools such as Get Listed to see what information people know about your business already.

Next you need to generate some new citations from sites that Google trusts. The list below is a very good starting point. Full credit to this list of UK citation providers and this one too which is much more up to date.

Local Data Company
Market Location
Infoserve
City Visitor (part of Infoserve)
Qype
Trusted Places
Brown Book
Yell
We Love Local
Yelp
Thomson Local
Touch Local
Scoot
Tipped
View London (& every other city they offer)
London Online
Visit London
All in London
Timeout
Square Meal
Applegate
Ufindus
Bview
UK Cities
Smile Local
Hot Frog
Free index
Bizwiki

Finally you need to generate some reviews. It’s illegal to write these yourself or to get your friends/staff/family/SEO agency to do it. The best way is to email your customers and ask them to add reviews for you on sites such as Yelp.

By Patrick Altoft. at 5:00PM on Tuesday, 14 Dec 2010

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events. Follow Patrick Altoft on Twitter.

comments

  • http://www.domainhammer.com Domain Hammer

    Nice insights! Having a place in google places (sounds redundant!haha) needs a lot of work. Your informations are very useful. Simple but concise.

  • Jonathan

    Taking the PlumberLeeds scenario in your opinion if the head office was in Leeds and sub offices in Burnley,Huddersfield,Oldham,York (same brand name)
    it was possible to use the keyword website Plumber Leeds but Google would not list PlumberBurnley.com
    PlumberHuddersfield.com etc. Will the local geo search results now show listings for individual city & town services? as it seems to me that the natural search term keywords will be snapped up in the country codes. Your comments please.

  • http://www.i-com.net ady berry

    Hi Patrick –

    Nice post.I think that we have barely touched the surface with local SEO here in the UK and any advice (specifically for the UK) is invaluable.

    I was also gonna ask what other tools apart from Whitespark and Getlisted would you recommend?

    Ady

  • Craig Addyman

    Are you doing any other tests on it ATM? And what are your thoughts for places moving forward?

  • http://www.johnmcnally54.com JohnMcNally

    I’m amazed that you can see the effect of SEO changes in real time, with Google Local. :o

    Surely this means we can just keep making adjustments, checking, then adjusting again until the site is #1. 8)

    John

  • http://www.ianfernando.com Ian Fernando

    Hi there, I truly like your post. I just hope that that you can also share to the public how they could generally do this on other markets and places as well. There are a lot of marketers from US, Canada, Australia and Asia which wanted this kind of information :-)

  • Jonathan

    Patrick@ ref 15 Dec 2010 at 11:39 am
    Would Google Local list PlumberLeeds.co.uk and others individually subject to there local area ex PlumberBurnley.co.uk – PlumberHuddersfield.co.uk – PlumberYork.co.uk where before Google would have counted (local service or not) any-more than one as farming?

  • http://www.aukseo.co.uk aukseo

    I did a similar list for hotels in the UK. Listed about 25 sites that are used in the hotel rankings.

    http://www.aukseo.co.uk/google-places-review-sites-finding-sample-data-1149/

  • Jonathan

    Aukseo@ Thanks.
    The bit that I am trying to know is if you the domain registrations, exact match hotelLeeds.co.uk, HotelBlackpool.co.uk HotelScunthorp.co.uk Would Google list each one individually in the local search results? because Google would only have allowed one prior to local searches. They would allow the search directory brand name but not the exact match domain listing 4 each city / town as with local trade searched PlumberLeeds /PlumberBurnley / ………… I am not an SEO professional just asking the question as this opens up a small advantage which will last in my lifetime while linguistics link to coding ??? Patrick your view would also be appreciated? any advantage against big brand advertising budgets is worth discussion.

  • Darren

    Great post Patrick, and timely as well. My current project is very much in the local scene and I have noticed a drop in traffic on some of the pages because Google has “stuffed” Google business listings above my previously ranked #1 or #2 page.

    I’m assuming there’s not a great deal I can do but am I missing something that I should be doing. Is it possible to rank ABOVE the Google business listings in the search results?

    Cheers

  • http://blueclaw.co.uk Blueclaw

    Thanks for the post indeed, rather useful!

    I like the uk get listed tool, but when we bulk add locations they dont get approved by google and thus are approved by the methods you show above!

    Much clearer! Thanks Branded!

    BC

  • http://www.firewallbypass.blogspot.com Firewallbypass.blogspot.com

    it’s a nice information you got..I never used Google local even never thought about it..I am not living in UK by the way..but I hope it’s available for other countries..I will try my luck in Google locals..

  • http://www.exactwebsolutions.co.uk Exact Web Solutions

    Local search is relevent for 99.9% of my small business clients, I look forward telling them of ranking improvements based upon the generation of citations as you suggest.

    Thanks for sharing this type of information, specific to the UK.

  • http://bouncycastlehireglasgow.org Ryan

    Thanks for the post I am just starting to get clients for google place listings, and was finding it difficult to get hold of a decent list of U.K. citations.

  • Pingback: BrandSocialism – 36 Must-Read Local SEO/Google Places Resources from 2010/2011

  • http://www.ecodrivendrivingschool.com Driving instructor

    Thanks for the post easiest way I’ve seen yet to explain this issue

  • http://www.acefastservices.co.uk Acefast Ipswich Webdesign

    It’s tough to get up there, to be honest. Yahoo was easy to climb. Google, not so much. Guess that says it all!

  • http://www.kapowcreative.co.uk iphone app developer wales

    another interesting thing to note is when creating citations its actually quite difficult to get your NAP accurate across all citations. This being due to the fields available on different citation websites…i.e. some accept ‘county’ and ‘city’ some will only accept ‘city’ our tip is to keep your NAP as simple as possible to avoid a mix of different NAPS across the whole citation list… just stick to company name, street, city, postcode – avoid regions and county and other areas etc.

  • http://www.london-cheap.com Justin

    Hello, how are you doing ? I will try it, I did not know about it. Thank you for sharing, keep up the good job.

  • http://www.sprayfoaminsulationwales.co.uk spray foam insulation wales

    Bar far the best list of top directories i have found on 1 page, many thanks

  • http://www.dickwhittingtondiscounttickets.com Preston

    Re: We are a company in Florida but we want to be placed in Google Places or reach out the UK market because of our name of our company. The owner lives in Florida but wants to reach out out the UK market.. Any ideas, suggestions?

  • http://www.doodlepad.co.uk Web Design Hull

    Hi,

    Just stumbled across this post wile looking for UK citation information. For anyone looking for information about local listing in the UK I would take a look at this post and then look for more up recent post, although an older post this is still a good place to get an understanding of local seo in the UK.

  • http://www.localsearchspecialist.co.uk Local Search

    Some great advice, often people thing just because they are on Google places they don’t need to do anything else to get found.

  • http://localbug.co.uk/ John of LocalBug.co.uk

    Google Places is certainly the most important place to establish your business’ identity and increase your local search rankings. If optimized properly, it can work wonders!