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On The Google Carousel? Will It Catch Up To You?

google places for businessOkay so the headline stole the lines from the old Hollies song, but if you are a location-based business you really need to be paying attention and become proactive. There are many things you can do to fine tune your Google Carousel and make it work more effectively and why you should.

It gets a little confusing as there are now Google Places for Business AND Google Plus Local Pages. Neither should be ignored, though many businesses think they have done the work if they have filled in the information of one of them. This is NOT true.

How Does the Carousel Work?
“Your Local Carousel photo is going to be the first photo uploaded to your Google+ Local account – whether you uploaded the photo or not! You don’t even have to have a claimed Google+ Local (aka Google Places) listing,” AutoRevo blogger Greg Gifford notes on RankHammer .

So if you were not the first one to add a photo to your Google+ listing you could have any old bizarre pic showing up.Google created many of these by pulling information from the web and once launched the visitors to the page could upload pictures – that means your competitors could impact the look of the listing.

The picture below shows the listing I found for “pizza” done in Brooklyn. As you can see they leave a lot to be desired. though the one with the red arrow (sorry am a poor paint user) is actually a pizza it could just as easily be a pile of poached eggs or scallops. The poorly circled one next to it is a distant store front, while the yellow tinted one next to that is actually ice cream – hey Spumoni Gardens has great ice cream first and foremost and the pizza is pretty good too.

pizza-carousel

So how do you correct that? The default method would be to delete the entire page and start again – losing all the pics others have upload as loyal customers. But you could reach out to that person if they have contact info on the Google account they used to do it. If there is no email listed you can post a comment asking them to get in touch – maybe offer an incentive if need be (not a breach of Google’s T&Cs) – and ask them to delete it. But if it was done by an anonymous poster, you can grab the pics by others you want to keep and them repost them giving credit to the customer with a link to their Google account.

So What Else Should You Know?

So now you should know the difference between Pages and Places. Both should be optimized with good detailed information that contains the keywords your business should be known for in the description. Remember you can’t change the name of the business to try and get better placement in the local search results and the Carousel. It breaks Google’s T&Cs and more importantly confuses your potential customers.

You should be accurate with your address – use the same one on your website or if you are not using one, the same as you have listed it on other online listings. This consistency will reinforce Google’s perception of your Places information. And I don’t care what others may say to not be speculating – it helps with the ranking in Google.

Next you want to get rankings from reviews by people with Google accounts – now you have to have one to do a review so is moot. Interesting you need 5 reviews to have an impact but then you have to have over 50 before more influence of the reviews kicks in. However, Google has recently started City Experts – a program for active reviewers with more than 50 reviews. They get invited to parties and get other perks – which is a little off given paid reviews and other paid methods of influence Google can be the death of a site promoter.

I actually had to sign a waiver of responsibility at the party as they were serving alcohol – never had that when I was spending over a million dollars a month on Adwords and they would take my team out for serious drinks and food. Anyway….

Obviously the better the reviews the higher your click through rate which shows popularity and can move you further over to the left. Heat maps show this is the sweet spot if there are no striking pictures that capture the searchers attention.

I have to make a hat tip to Greg Gifford again who did the same search in Spokane, Washington with varied results. The ones I got for Brooklyn also showed some interesting results, three were merely Google Map pins – granted one called the “mile high club” and another “always phone sex” may have gotten clicks for their names. The two that do show pictures of women – the one to the right is an actual club, the other a female wrestling listing.

What this highlights is the need to take control of your listing. The Map listings just show laziness or lack of knowledge that the business is actually in the search results.

Make sure you include the following things in your Business Places page – categories of your business -start with the relevant broad choice but make sure you include at least two more sub categories. They help you get in to the Carousel for those terms.

For your cover photo, you may want to choose an image of your storefront or some of the products you sell. That image must be 2120 pixels wide by 1192 pixels tall. The profile photo can be an ideal spot for your business logo. This image should be 270 pixels by 270 pixels, and will appear round rather than square, as your original image may be.

If you have some basics in your listings and want to edit you may need to re-verify but where to do that can be found here.

The intro is a good place to describe your business – be creative here and combine strategic keywords with call to action copy. Fill in all applicable areas – the more the better here. As Google explains on the edit page:

What does Google do with this information?
Your information will be used to help us understand more about your business. We may use your information to help relevant listings appear in search results across Google, such as in Google Maps, Search, and Earth”.

The Places for Business also helps you track your reviews both those from other Google users and “reviews from around the web.”

Following the steps will help get your listing in to Google’s local listing and you will be able to finish singing:

Now we take our ride together
No more chasing her
On a carousel

On The Google Carousel? Will It Catch Up To You? by

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