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Hello!

I'm new here and working with a client very interested in strengthening his Google Places listings and rankings. It's an area I haven't especially worked with before and my head's spinning a little bit trying to figure it all out.

I've spent some time doing general research into this, but still have what may be some fairly basic questions. Hard to know what information out there still applies, since it seems Google changes things up a lot.

1) Is it especially beneficial to set up a Google + account, in addition to the Google Place/Google + Local page for a business? If so, for a business with multiple locations (a car dealership), is it best to have multiple Google + accounts or one representing all locations?
2) My understanding is that the main things that matter in Places rankings are: The categories chosen, how complete the entry is, distance from city centroid (nothing we have control over) and consistency of information in the Places listing across other listings throughout the web. The description and additional information fields no longer hold much wait, yes? Is there anything important I'm missing here?

Thanks so much for any help offered!

Kristen Hicks

Austin Copywriter
Austin Copywriter | Copywriting and Online Marketing
kristen@austin-copywriter.com
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Kristen,

Welcome to the forum and thanks for asking some great questions.

Doing G+ Local is like the most complicated, convoluted, buggy thing you can even imagine. There is TONs to learn and much of it is not black and white, but is situation dependent.

Auto dealers are especially tricky because many times the way they are set up with multiple dealerships and brands is in violation OR done in a way that causes Google to merge all the listings together into a mishmash of scrambled data.

I teach courses on how to this business but it's a TON of info. 10 page outline and 4 hours of content, so it's impossible to convey everything in one forum post.

I wish there was an easy step-by-step guide out there. There used to be a pretty good one, but there have been so many changes that it's now totally out of date.

So per your specific Qs.

1) I'd wait on G+. It creates a whole new set of challenges AND important to note that Google does not recommend multi-location businesses to merge/verify G+ pages yet. It's not that far along yet and still buggy, so I'd hold off and deal with the G+ Local page AND the web site changes 1st.

2) In a nutshell you have much of that right. The more details section however does not show at all any more. And description is still important (for conversions, not so much for ranking.)

However in the new blended algo, which is the one that affects most local searches, the PRIMARY factors are organic and have to do with on-site SEO. So having everything you mentioned perfect, won't help if the site is not optimized well to match.

There are IMO over 300 ranking factors now in blended but organic factors are the most important. You still need to have all ducks in a row on other fronts as well too though. (For example even if on-site perfect, violations on the G+L page or dupe/merge problems can knock you out of the rankings.)

MOST IMPORTANT starting out. Read the Google Places Guidelines 3 times and read between the lines. It's REALLY easy to get a client suspended or rejected if you don't know what you are doing. Many of the rules are purposely very subtle and not spelled out well.

And like I said car dealers AND multi-location businesses are some of the trickiest of all to get right. When I was still working on client sites, even though I'm pretty experienced, I would not except that type of client due to a myriad of problems. So you may have your work cut out for you and this could be a really challenging 1st client to take on.

(Sorry, didn't mean to sound so negative or make this sound so daunting, but wanted to just warn you that this could be much more complicated and time consuming than you realize so you'll know to quote a fee that takes all that into account.)

But we're here to help if you get stuck along the way. So just holler!
 
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Thank you so much for such a detailed, quick response!

I'm also a bit relieved that everyone finds this to be complicated and it's not just me. Much of what you said I suspected, but I really appreciate having someone with more experience confirm it.
 

Linda Buquet

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I'm also a bit relieved that everyone finds this to be complicated and it's not just me.

Don't feel like the lone ranger! You are NOT alone.

I've been doing SEO for over 11 years. I've created major long term ad campaigns for Microsoft and Google. I used to sell LASERS, Digital Xray systems and air abrasion to Dentists. (Trying to explain and demo those technologies back when they were brand new was no easy feat.)

Nothing I've ever done even comes close to the complexity of this local beast! :p
 
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Linda has done a super job outlining a very big topic. I would like to add a note regarding the critical mindset you should get into in entering Local land. So many of Google's moves over the past 5 years, both in Local and traditional SEO, have been towards naturalness over manipulation. Promise yourself at the outset that you will take the high road and go for the most authentic possible approach to representing each business with which you work, and this will be a guideline you can follow in all your future projects. Good luck, and welcome to this loony local world!

Linda...maybe we ought to team up to create a guide :):):)
 

Chris B

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Thank you so much for such a detailed, quick response!

I'm also a bit relieved that everyone finds this to be complicated and it's not just me. Much of what you said I suspected, but I really appreciate having someone with more experience confirm it.

Oh yeah!, anyone will agree with this being a quagmire at times. I thought after the first set of Panda updates it was nuts and ive been doing seo for 8 years so a year ago i get into local and whoa!! and i thoiught this would be easy. LOL.

I see as your name here you are a copywriter, take that skill and help your clients with conversions, the ones really succeeding are not selling rankings but ROI, rankings is just one part of overall plan to offer clients.

Maybe a good poll would be... how many of our clients are ranking in the top 3 spots but not getting very many leads.

Chris
 
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Miriam,

I've seen many of your comments over at SEOmoz, glad to see you're a contributor here too.

Chris,

I got into SEO because of how important writing and content is to it. Although the regular changes Google makes keep us on our toes, usually it's refreshing to know that their end goal is prioritizing quality over anything manipulative - means I get to see much of my job as learning valuable information and taking on the challenge of communicating it well (the part I like).

Kristen
 
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Hi Kristen,
Thanks for the hello. Yes, I'm the Local SEO Associate in Q&A at SEOmoz and love working there.

It's nice to meet another copywriter. I got into copywriting back in the dim years of the Internet when none of my first web design clients knew what to write about anything and I ended up writing their product and service descriptions (for free, no less!). Then, eventually, I realized I should probably be charging for this...haha.

It's great to have you hear and I look forward to seeing more of you threads in both fora:)
 
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