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Google Maps to Apply Pay for Service in 2012

Beginning on January 1, 2012, a shift in geo-local Google results will take place: websites will be required to pay for listings in Google Maps.

The charges will only impact those websites that receive a large number of clicks from the Google Maps listings. Once a website exceeds the 25,000 hits per day, Google will then start applying the charges.

The industry expected to be most affected by this development is travel. This because travel agencies often link clients to locations in which they’re inquiring about. Local businesses might also be affected as many business websites use the Google Maps API to point customers to their specific locations.

The rumor is that Google will charge $4 for every 1000 clicks that exceed the 25,000 limit. Heavy users will need to evaluate usage and take appropriate action if necessary.

Google defends its decision by disclosing that it is essential for the long term viability of the service. It is estimated that only 0.35% of all users will be affected.

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"How Do I Get My Business on Google Maps?"

Many business owners are asking "How Do I Get My Business on Google Maps?" However, it is not so much Google Maps that they want their business on. It's Google Places.

There is intense competition for market share over the Internet since there are many players from all over the world, but a small business can compete with larger businesses by listing on Google Places. Google Places lists businesses, large and small, accompanied a map that is powered by Google Maps.

Most people use Google Places and Google Maps interchangeably, but Google Maps is a mapping software that services several applications, and the Google Places listings is one of them.

How Do I Get My Business on Google Maps? Google Places Optimization!

The Importance of Google Places for Local Businesses

You should strive to attain a top Google Places listing because this is a cost effective way of locally advertising a business. When people search for something using geo-modifier (or city in their seach query,) Google Places almost always appears in the first page of SERPs (search engine results pages). Google has strict criteria for ranking on Google Places and a placement therefore indicates to your customers/clients that you are credible and reliable.

You should, however, note that registering on Google Places does not guarantee appearance in SERPs when somebody searches a keyword you have used. There are two main Google Places optimization methods that you should try to increase chances of placement.

Google Places Optimization

You need to do proper keyword category selection for Google Places optimization. You will typically realize a higher ranking if your categories are very specific and relevany to your business. You are allowed to select up to five categories. Try to keep all of the categories you choose somewhat related. Google Places requires that you have one category from the Google Places hierarchy, and the rest can be customizable to your preferences.

Another way to achieve Google Places optimization is building citations. The Google Places page has a list of citations at the bottom of the page. These go by the name 'More about this place'. These citations are like SEO links, but they list NAP (Name/Address/Phone) information. Just like is the case with link building, the more the NAPs you have, the higher your ranking on Google Places will be.

Citations are your business's listings on different websites and directories, such as Yellowpages.com, Yelp.com, Kudzu.com. The most important tip here while building citations on other websites is to ensure that NAP is exactly the same on all websites. This is Google's way of referencing and confirming that your business is a legitimate place.

Also in the Google Places page is a description for your business. Here it is wise to include the keywords that you want to rank for. You may need to do keyword research to come up with the most appropriate keyword. You could use the Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool together with the Traffic Estimator tool for this. When determining traffic amounts, use 'exact match' instead of 'broad match' to get only the results of people who use the exact keyword as is.

Some of the keywords that your find may be useful for optimizing your own website for organic SEO. You may want to include these keywords in the Page Title, Meta Description, and page text of the homepage. Keep in mind, however, that you only want to optimized each page of your website for only a few related keywords. With that said, building out a few additional pages that focus on certain keywords targets may be a good approach for local search engine optimization.

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Local Maps SEO: The Big Picture Behind Maps Optimization

Local maps SEO has become a major marketing boon for locally-based businesses. Both enterprise-level companies and small businesses alike are optimizing their search presence in the local maps listings (otherwise known as the Google 3 pack.)

The Google 3 pack is most valuable form local search marketing real estate, as it's often shown near the top of the SERPs and is reserved for only 3 entities. However, there's more to local maps SEO and embracing the big picture behind Google Maps marketing and optimization process.

Ranked Google Maps Search Results

When a Google user doesn't have location data enabled on his or her device, the ranked Google Maps search results are typically displayed. Additionally, Google Maps is available on a global scale without any geographic boundaries. As a result, the ranked Google Maps results are sometimes shown instead of traditional, local 3 pack results.

Viewable upon clicking the "More places" link below the 3 pack, these search results appear on the Google Maps interface (or mobile app) for specific types of businesses in a given location. For example, see the screenshot below of the ranked Google Maps results for “orthodontist” in Seattle, Washington:google local maps SEO

The rankings behind these local maps search results use different variables and signals compared to the 3 pack. Notably, citations are less influential (compared to 3 pack SEO) and Google My Business (GMB) pages are perhaps the most influential. As a result. It's important for local maps SEO to claim, verify, and optimize a business's GMB page to maximize it's ranking potential in the Google Maps search results.

Google Maps Ads

Dovetailing on our last example, Leone & Vaughn Orthodontics are the only orthodontists in Seattle leveraging Google Maps ads. Combined with their organic Google Maps listing (shown just below the ad), Leone & Vaughn Orthodontics are doubling their search exposure while occupying a significant chunk of search real estate.

Google Maps ad

While this is more search marketing than it is local maps SEO on semantic level, it's still an underutilized opportunity worth mentioning. Google Maps ads can be created through AdWords when synced with a business's GMB page or local listing. In a competitive search market, these ads offer valuable platform to improve search exposure and generate quality, in-market traffic to a site.

Getting Started With Local Maps SEO

The first step to local maps SEO to claim or establish a new GMB page for your business. Once claimed, the next steps are to:

  • Select the most relevant categories that describe your organization (making the primary category the most relevant top pick.)
  • Populate your GMB page to 100% completion. This includes every detail, such as hours of operation, images, contact information, etc.
  • Define your business's primary service areas (i.e. names of nearby cities or towns, or a defined radius from your location.)
  • Add a link from your website to your GMB page (and vice versa.)
  • Verify your GMB listing (via phone verification or postcard submission)

For more help getting started with local maps SEO, there are many reputable local SEO agencies in Atlanta that specialize in Google Maps marketing and optimization. To ensure your investment offers the greatest returns, work with a certified Google Partner who has the credentials you can trust with your business.

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