Weekly SEO news: 9 November 2010
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Getting listed in Google Places has become very important with Google's recent algorithm change for local results.

If you offer local services, you should make sure that your website is listed correctly. This week's article will help you to improve your results.

In the news: Google Places causes problems, Google seems to support anonymous reviews, Google's position on slow websites and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Get local: how to get on Google's first results with Google Places

Some days ago, Google released Places Search. Websites that are listed in Google Places (formerly Google Local/Google Maps) are now listed as the top search results for local searches:

Google Places

If you offer your products or services in a particular area, it is very important that your website is listed in Google Places.

How to optimize your Google Places listing

How your website is listed in Google Places depends on several things. For example, bakeries in Los Angeles are listed differently than Honda dealers in Knoxville. The location of your business, the industry that you're in and the keywords that you are targeting and other things influence your listing in Google Places.

Ranking element 1: your address

If you want to get high rankings for keywords that are related to a particular city then your business should be located in that city. If you want to be found for local searches in London then your business must have a physical address in London.

Ranking element 2: your business category

You must make sure that your business is listed in the correct category in Google Places. If you sell cars then your website should not be listed in the real estate category. You can specify the correct category when you submit your website to Google Places (see below).

Ranking element 3: keywords in your business name

If your business name contains the keywords for which you want to be found then you increase your chance of getting listed in the Google Places results on Google's first result page. If you have a restaurant, it will help your rankings for the keyword "restaurant" if your business name is "Peter's Restaurant".

Ranking element 4: citations of your business

Citations (also called "web references") are mentions of your business name and address on other web pages, even if these web pages do not link to your website.

For example, a yellow pages directory or the local chamber of commerce might list your business without linking to your website. The more citations your business has, the more likely it is that it will be listed for local searches. Citations have a similar effect on local searches as backlinks have on regular website listings.

Try to get your website address listed on as many websites as possible to show Google that your business is real.

Ranking element 5: you should have positive reviews

Google Places is basically a recommendation search engine. It recommends local restaurants, plumbers, hotels, etc. in the search results. If the recommended businesses offer poor products and poor services then people wouldn't continue to use Google Places.

Positive reviews and ratings help Google to gain more confidence in your company. The more positive reviews your company has, the better. Encourage your customers to write a positive review if they are satisfied with your products and services.

Ranking element 6: proximity to the searched location

If your business is located near to the searched location then it is more likely that it will be displayed in the search results. If you have a hotel near the Museum of Modern Art then it's likely that Google will show your Google Places listing for search terms such as "hotels near moma".

You can submit your website to Google Places with IBP's semi automatic submitter: IBP > Submission > Semi-automatic > Directories > Local Search > Google Places

To make sure that your website gets found for as many relevant keywords as possible, optimize your pages with IBP's Top 10 Optimizer. The Top 10 Optimizer helps you to get your website on the first result page of Google, Bing and other search engines.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Google PlacesMassive problem with Google Local Search & Places reviews

"Google is now collecting data from forums for reviews. [...] I noticed one of the companies ranking on page one for 'Sydney Restaurant' has around 93 reviews coming from 1 single thread on JDM style tuning forum, this to me seemed a little funny.

After digging around it seems the restaurant 'Quay' was bringing in reviews for any one who had listed 'Circular Quay'"

Google Places – reviewer names no longer showing. feature or bug?

"The name of review posters disappeared in Canada. It appears that they have now stopped showing for reviews in the US now as well. [...]

For a serious student of reviews I find this loss of information regrettable. Who knows why Google made this decision to add another level of anonymity to reviews. If anything, a great review site should be shining the light of transparency on reviewers. This change not only makes thorough investigation of review abuses impossible, it makes reviewers less accountable for their actions."

Meet Google's evangelist army

"The list includes some bona fide technology industry stars, too, including one-time Napster executive and former Microsoft evangelist Don Dodge, as well as Android advocate Tim Bray, the former director of web technologies at Sun Microsystems and co-developer of XML. [...]

Pretty soon, Google will need a VP of Evangelism (if it doesn't already have one) to keep track of all its developer evangelists. Even a huge entity like Google, with a massive pool of more than $40 billion in cash and a market value of $200 billion, is potentially at risk of losing focus by trying to do too many things at once."

GoogleDiscussion: does Google really penalize slow websites?

"It's a ranking factor along with many others. Matt Cutts made a comment in one of the Google Webmaster Help videos that it only makes a difference in something like 10% of all searches, and then it acts something like a 'tie-breaker' when two results are very close.

Now that certainly may change - but I've worked with clients whose sites were reported to be at least as slow as your report says, and they were doing pretty well. [...]

Visitors are punishing slow sites much more than Google's algorithm ever will. So improve your speed for you visitors' sake and your business will improve."

The Guardian: Google is polluting the internet

"The danger of allowing an advertising company to control the index of human knowledge is too obvious to ignore [...]

The vast library that is the internet is flooded with so many advertisements that many people claim not to notice them anymore. Ads line the top and right of the search results page, are displayed next to emails in Gmail, on our favourite blog, and beside reportage of anti-corporate struggles. [...]

In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin made a promise: 'We believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.' Now it is up to us to realise the dream of a non-commercial paradigm for organising the internet."

Search engine newslets

  • Is Twitter about to let businesses claim locations?
  • AOL-Yahoo hookup, not so much right now (but bankers spinning? Much!)
  • comScore: Facebook now accounts for nearly 1 in 4 display ads in the U.S.
  • Facebook Like numbers are inflated.
  • About Costa Rica, Nicaragua, their mutual border, and Google.
  • Google to Facebook: you can't import our user data without reciprocity.

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3. Success stories

"IBP has become the wisest decision we've made."

"We are a small company just starting off with few members and little budget for advertising and publicity. That little budget channeled through IBP has become the wisest decision we've made.

We see the organization suddenly shot to the top with more people joining everyday and more are making reasonable enquiries."
Shadie Okpako, SNEM


Tell us how IBP helped your business and 250,000 readers will see YOUR website

Let us know how IBP has helped you to improve your website and we might publish your success story with a link to your website in this newsletter. The more detailed your story is, the better. Click here to tell us your story.

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4. Previous articles

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