Fueling Your Local SEO Strategy With Google Places March 16, 2011 by Brett Prince If you’re looking to compete in your local market and have adopted a Local SEO strategy, you’re probably aware of Google Places and the importance of local references and citations to attract attention and improve rank. If you think about it from Google’s perspective, the more local references you have, the more trust and strength you can expect for your listing. But how do you know which sites to put emphasis on? Building a Foundation When it comes to Google Places, local citation and reference act as the equivalent to backlinking. Much like link building, it’s important that you begin developing a strategy, creating goals and meeting deadlines. In the past, SEO has focused on using directory links and other methods to build a link foundation. You can breakdown your local campaign in a similar way, submitting your business to many (or all, ideally) websites that are known to feed into search engines directly or passively. GetListed.org has an amazing map showing the Local Search Ecosystem, it’s highly recommended that you take note of these websites and incorporate whatever you can into your existing strategy, or if you’re new to local search, these websites are a fantastic place to start! Competitive Analysis & Strategic Planning As with any sort of strategy, especially with Internet marketing, you should analyze the competition to see what it is that they’re doing and what’s been working for them. By referencing the competition (or any successful Places account), it will help guide you towards new websites you can utilize for your citation building and referencing, ultimately strengthening your Google Places listing. Getting started is easy; you simply search for your competition or keyword in Google and then take a look at their Places page. Pay close attention to the various sites that are referenced throughout the listing (they’re in green), including reviews, details, photos and videos, and anything else you can see. If you notice a website that isn’t being targeted as part of your campaign, you now have the perfect opportunity. Once you have researched and established references on these new sites, you can always look for unknown competitors simply by searching for core local keywords, viewing the Places lists that are positioned at the top of the results. Alternatively, you can always click the Places link in the left sidebar. As you may have noticed, research and analysis can be quite time consuming, so naturally, we want to speed up the process! Whitespark has an outstanding Local Citation Finder that will find local citation sources based on top Places accounts that are displayed for a specific keyword. It will also deliver an extensive list to your email. It doesn’t get much better than that! Think Outside Your Local Box If you’ve searched all of your local resources and aren’t entirely sure where to look next, you can target larger metro markets to find new opportunities. Remember, it doesn’t matter if they aren’t in your local market, you could still find new opportunities within those listings. In fact, if you’re searching within your industry, you can often find niche specific references that will strengthen your listing and content. Search larger areas such as Los Angeles or New York, often times you can find industry related accounts that are highly successful within those markets, but locally the competition probably won’t be targeting the majority of what major players are. Continued Local Growth It’s important to remember that as your build your local presence, it’s key to list your business contact information whenever possible – this creates opportunity to be referenced and information could be used as a citation for strengthening your Places account. As references build, you must keep your address information consistent; otherwise search engines won’t know that it’s related to your Places account. It may be a good idea to refer to and copy information directly from your Google Places listing whenever you’re creating a new reference or citation. Remember, local search is only going to become more relevant and personalized as it continues to evolve – now is the time to start planning and doing! So how about it? Will you be adding local search to your existing strategy?