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Google+ Local Pages are Indexed: So What?

Google Places | 26 Jul 2012

google+ local indexed
I certainly am far from the first to make this observation. I’ve seen many posts on the subject, but ALL seem to miss the real game changer here. To their credit, perhaps they are just keeping the cat in the bag…permission to hate me after this post.

Anyone who has been in the Local SEO arena for long enough has probably tried to build a
backlink to their formally known, Google Places page. Hell, I pounded my page w/ forum profile, social bookmark & blog posts back in the day. At the time, SEO was still new to me, and I hadn’t pieced together the fact that the Google Places page was not indexed, and a result, such tactics were futile. Today however, with the recent introduction of Google+ Local pages, we now have a indexed page. Don’t believe me? Take your listing CID number (the string of digits) and throw ‘em in Google.com. Note, this is not yet the case for .ca. You SHOULD find your two pages: /digits & /digits/about the former redirects to the latter it seems.

So, we’ve got at least 1 indexed page, which in theory means if we build backlinks to it, rankings will come. Right? It also means that the content may affect said rankings too. Right? Yes. Like your website, you should now be able to build backlinks to your Google+ Local page, conduct On-site SEO and have it improve your rankings.

Remember my post re what you write in your description field no longer mattering. Forget that. Optimize it.

My buddy Darren, creator of the infamous Local Citation Finder asked me to pitch a Local SEO tip. He is speaking at MozCon (Lucky SOB) and suggested I provide a couple tips on stuffing reviews w/ keywords. Indeed it improved rankings back in the Google Places days. More interesting though, is why it does now, which contributes to the basis of the tip I decided to provide. Why does it help? Copy a sentence from one of your reviews and search it in Google.com. See? Indexed. Because we are so limited in our on page Google+ Local copy, reviews are now your copy. Stuff ‘em. If it were me, I’d like to have a keyword, my biz name, and my city name in each. Don’t skimp either, the more content the better. Keep in mind also, once the review falls below the fold, it is no longer indexed. You’ve got 6 reviews above the fold, so make ‘em count folks.

Finally, while I haven’t played around with it yet, your biz name is your title tag, so I would imagine stuffing it w/ your keyword will help even more than before. Also there seems to be something of a meta D, but I am not sure how to get something to show up there. Something to do with sharing…

Remember, all of this is in theory. I have been testing it for a couple weeks, and intend to wait a bit longer before I say it works or not – if I choose to do so.

So my TIP: Google+ Local pages are indexed in a way Google Places pages never were. You now need to think of everything on your places page like a website. The title is indexed. The description is indexed. The reviews are indexed. Every word counts. Finally, like a website, build backlinks to it. Test, test and test some more. Push the boundaries people!

Related posts:

  1. It’s Just…there is someone else…Google+ Local – Goodbye Google Places
  2. Google Places Cracking Down on Fake Reviews
  3. How to Move a Google+ Local Listing
  4. Google Places Page Optimization: Google Local in Review
  5. Tips to Rank in Google Places

13 Comments

  • Because we are so limited in our on page Google+ Local copy, reviews are now your copy.

    “Stuffing review content” may not be a sustainable practice for most small business owners. But I am not sure that it is even necessary.

    Google will be merging the Google+ local page with the Google+ Business page
    During the transition you are limited to the 200 character field size provided in the current dashboard.

    But soon the two pages will become one and when they do you can put as much content as you like on the “about” page where the reviews and other local content lies.

    To see an example of this visit Barbara Oliver & Co Jewelry G+ Business page.

    Her G+ local page merged with her business page under the test Google was doing last month and she can put as much content (oncluding links) as she wishes on the page.

    One caveat is that too much content pushes the address and stellar reviews way down the page.

    • Adam Steele Adam Steele

      Excellent points and information Mike!

      Here is an ‘unintentional’ backlink to Barbara’s page ;) https://plus.google.com/103156080483607740278/about?hl=en

      Yes, certainly risky business stuffing reviews, and I would never ask any of my clients to do this. Granted, that’s not to say what I am speaking of doesn’t work/help.

      Would you say then that post merge, it indeed would be wise to look at your on page copy and make the best of it from an SEO stand point? That is, optimize it for your keywords?

      I wonder if like a website, your merged G+ page can suffer from too high Outbound Links (OBL)..?

      Thanks for all this input Mike – truly is appreciated.

  • Hey Adam,

    Another excellent post! I think the post itself “pushed the boundaries” (in a good way!), kind of as you recommend the reader does with his/her G+L listing.

    A couple quick thoughts:

    1. I think one *possible* way to navigate between what you’re suggesting and what Mike’s suggesting – that is, “to stuff or not to stuff” – is simply to ask customers to write as much as they humanly can bear in each review. That way, you’re not putting words in anyone’s mouth (not that you were suggesting that), but inevitably they’ll get down to describing your services in really detailed, probably keyword-specific ways. Of course, the upshot of that is people like reading detailed reviews, so it’s going to help click-throughs.

    2. Speaking of CTR, that was actually my “secret tip” for Darren’s presentation: to *assume* that Google is counting the CTR to your website for you or against you. And that therefore you should (1) try to make a title tag that’s at least as “catchy” as it is keyword-relevant, and you should (2) get 10 customer reviews ASAP, so that your Zagat rating shows up and stands out in the SERPs. As for why I’m convinced CTR is a ranking factor, I think I’ll need to do a whole post on that :)

    Again, thanks for another awesome post!

    • Adam Steele Adam Steele

      Yes, pushing the boundaries indeed. Got to be careful though, I don’t want to become the black sheep of local SEO :P

      1. Yes, I would agree with you there. The more detailed, the better.

      2. Reminds me of quality score in Google PPC. I have never seen anything to convince me that this is the case, but I would LOVE to see something. Looking forward to your post Phil!

      Appreciate you stopping by Phil : )

  • Review content has always provided relevancy on local searches and if all else is equal they will provide an edge in standing.

    That being said getting reviews is hard enough and getting Google to hang on them is equally hard.

    One of the issues that the newest iteration of the Google review filter seems to have raised is the way that it evaluates spammy content. They are certainly profiling spammy reviews, modeling them, and “nicking” reviews that have the same attributes as spam. This has lead to an uptick in reports of legit reviews being pulled.

    Putting another barrier in front of a customer will to leave a review seems like one more friction point between the ask and the review showing up.

    Given these many vagaries and the fact that consumers can smell a bogus review at 200 paces, I think the best tactic is to just keep getting reviews.

    Sooner or later the review content will hit on the critical points and most importantly they will be sincere. If they keep coming in, BS if Google throws a few away, It is not such a big deal.

    Ultimately the gain with reviews is not really rank provided by reviews but the fact that a business’s customers have stepped up and endorsed them publicly and the credibility that business gets from that.

    A compelling review corpus will presell customers, increase traffic and conversions.

    • Adam Steele Adam Steele

      True enough.

      In summary, keep hustling for positive reviews, and in turn you will be rewarded with good standings, traffic and conversions.

      At the end of the day though, for those pushing fake reviews, if you can pass the filter and come up with something believable, your rankings can be padded with reviews.

      Of course the purpose of my current study isn’t so much to determine if you can still push rankings, but rather to determine if now that reviews are indexed, can we expect reviews to help us even more…? In the way that well optimized web copy does? In theory, I would think so.

  • Good stuff Adam. You recommend stuffing the biz name with keywords? I would hesitate to do that as it’s the most likely place to get your listing flagged as spam. Maybe you know something I don’t though…

    • Adam Steele Adam Steele

      No, for a real business I would not recommend doing this. However, for those of us who do lead gen en masse, such tactics may prove useful. Of course, as you pointed out, things like this certainly put your listing in harms way – so at your own risk : )

  • Good dialogue going on here.

    I’d like to add that there is nothing wrong with educating your clients on how to leave reviews so you can increase your chances at getting “keywords” in your reviews.

    Here at SBOC, we create 3 minute video to give to our clients, so they can give to their consumers on how to write reviews. We ask them to be descriptive in what service they had and what they like about it and even show them example reviews in a short video.

    By doing this it increases the changes of getting the review and a more robust review (which Google and review sites like Yelp) like. Certainly should help with legit reviews not getting pulled by their review spam filters. And you’ll most likely end up with “keywords” in your review you clients would use (again keeping it more natural) and giving you some opportunities to have sentiment keywords added to your local listing too.

    Another reason why a business will not want to have reviews posted for them and why they ideally want to get their customers to do it is because then they have a greater opportunity of reaching your customers social network (whether they are participating now or not).

    Look, eventually Google Plus will reach the masses and when it does, if your customers have a Google account and reviewed you, then they start circling friends and family, then their review will presented to all their friends and family. You have greater opportunities for branding and marketing reach by getting your customers to actually leave the review.

    AND if your customers are actively using their Google Plus Profile they carry more “author” or “review” trust/rank, then an account that has no activity. My guess is Google is smart enough to know the difference between active accounts and non-active accounts and I would guess they give more authority to active accounts.

    And just like backlinks not all “reviews” will be created equal. 1 power reviewer’s review may be worth 10 or 20 reviews from inactive review accounts.

    Listen I am all for some grey hat tactics on posting reviews (only once you earn some legitimate stuff), then when you do a little review sculpting or backlink sculpting it looks more naturally earned.

    Adam is a pro and knows how not to look like a knob when posting reviews, but for the average small business owner, don’t ever try this stuff on your own because you don’t understand the details and when you don’t understand it, you are going to get slapped. ;)

    Hence why all SMB’s need a smart savvy local sem marketer to help them acquire the right buzz about their business online.

    Adam – question… you mentioned reviews that go on to page 2 and beyond, you believe are not counting b/c they are not seen as being indexed…? Interesting. Can you elaborate on this thought?

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