Towards the end of 2010, Google made a number of changes to the algorithm that determines the position of your Google Places listing. It used to be that businesses with websites ranked equally as well as those without, but this is no longer the case.
This is good news for all businesses who have a company website but not so good for those that don't. While having a website for your business has always been a good idea, it's become more vital as a result of this change.
Here are seven additional tips to help you improve your Google Places' rankings:
1. Pay close attention to your "on page" Search Engine Optimization. This includes the keywords/keyword phrases you are targeting, all standard SEO practices, and ensuring that your business name, address and phone is listed exactly on your site as it is in your Google Places listing.
2. In addition to building backlinks to each page of your site, it's also a good idea to build backlinks to your primary "citation" references (usually found on directory sites like Yelp, WalesIndex, InsiderPages, CitySearch, etc.)
3. Build backlinks to your Google Places page itself. As most won't do this, this will give you an added edge.
4. Do some social bookmarking of both the pages where your citation references are found as well as your Google Places listing itself.
5. Use a phone number with a local area code for your primary number. If you're currently using a toll-free phone number, I recommend you get a local "virtual number" and use that instead. You can list your toll-free number as a secondary number.
6. Instead of uploading your images direct to your listing, choose to add them from the web. I recommend you upload your images to either Flickr or Panoramio and make sure to "geo tag" your images with your businesses' address/location information.
7. As with your images, it's wise to "geo tag" your videos as well. This causes your videos to play a dual role they increase your ability to rank because you've chosen to add them to your listing and because they are now considered to be a citation as well.
In the end, optimizing your Google Places listing is very much like optimizing your website. Your goal should be to give as much helpful information as possible that will benefit those looking for a business like yours and to outperform your competition.
As it takes a significant amount of work to thoroughly optimize a Google Places listing, you will frequently find that your competitors are lacking in one or more of the areas mentioned in this article.