Google Places 101 – For Tacoma and Seattle Businesses

Because of the tremendous SEO power of Google Places for Tacoma and Seattle small businesses, knowledge of what it is and how to use it is critical.

Google Places ( is a free service that is a part of the Google search engine that focuses specifically on businesses and their locations. It links to Google Maps and displays a list of companies in the area that offer services or products based on the user’s search terms.

If you type in a search and see a map box on the page, then Google Places can be tremendously important to you.  Sometimes you’ll see1 map location, sometimes 3, and sometimes 7.  There are never more than 7 (although there used to be 10, and Google makes no promises that tomorrow will be the same as today.)

For instance, if a search is made for bookstores in a specific location, all of the listed bookstores within that area will be marked on a Google Map with short reviews and often pictures and/or videos related to the business.

Google Places pages are usually generated automatically for any business that has an online presence, such as a company website. They are also generated for businesses that are already listed in other online directories such as the Yahoo directory, Bing Local, and others.

You DO NOT want to have your business listed on Google Places without claiming it, verifying it, and optimizing it.


These listings in Places and the other directories are considered as “citations” and are very important in the ranking factors of Google Places pages. I will go more into citations in a later article, so look for it.

When a user performs a search, Google Places listings are usually displayed and ranked in the search results using four simple factors. Based on these factors, each listing is given a score, which determines where it ranks in the results.

The 4 Key Google Places Ranking Factors:

1. The proximity of the business to the center of the specified search location. If it is a town, it would be the CENTER of that town according to Google’s longitude and latitude record of that town.
2. The general SEO rating of the business listing in the Google index.  If you show up well already, you’ll show up evern better on Pages.
3. The quality of the citations that exist online for the business in all of the local directories. Quality would be the age of the citation, and the authority of the directory.  Yahoo or would have more authority than
4. The quantity of the customer reviews that are on the business’s Google Places page.  I have seen that a business with a dozen BAD REVIEWS actually outranked a business with six GOOD REVIEWS.  More is apparently better – it’s ‘social relevance’ to Google.

Once Google runs all of these factors through what we call ‘the Algorithym’, a Places page is given its ranking for certain local keyword phrases.  The results usually – but not always – appear under 3 ‘premiere’ paid ads.  If the map results are mixed in with non-map results, we call it a ‘blended’ result.  Google seems to gradually be rolling our blended results for more search phrases and in more local results.

Recent research shows that consumers prefer a local company when making purchases online. However, they almost always go online first to search or “find” a local company to do business with.

While they’re there, they also read comments – from the citation, primarily –  from other consumers about these companies when making a decision.

For instance, someone in Los Angeles needing a chiropractor may go to Google and type in “Los Angeles Chiropractor” and a list of chiropractors in Los Angeles will come up in the Google Places results.

Google Places looks at these very specific local search terms to return very specifid search engine results to pinpoint the closest and highest rated businesses that match the query.

Users usually then pick the closest business to their location that matches their needs or the one with the best customer reviews.

Because Google generates place pages automatically, there are presently 50 million business oriented Google Place pages that are waiting to be claimed by by the businesses’ owner.

Google Places currently has 5 million listings that have been claimed by businesses around the world, with 2.3 million of them being in the United States alone.

Do the math on that!  It’s astonishing that so many businesses have a primary criterion that Google uses to place them…and so few know about it or have acted on it.

Don’t be one of them!  Give us a call or email to find out how we can help you claim and/or optimize your Google Places page for your Tacoma or Seattle business.


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