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While there is much more to optimizing your Google Places listing than first meets the eye, these five tips will give you a "leg up" on your competition:

1.    Fill out every field completely

There are about 20 fields to fill out when completing your Place Page listing. I recommend that you fill out each and every field as skipping even one can negatively affect the ranking of your Places Page.

As a general rule you'll find the more complete your listing is, the better it will rank for the keyword phrases you are targeting.

2.    Utilize every category available to you

Google only requires you to use one category for your listing but will allow you to use up to five. You can get your Place Page ranked for more terms if you include the keyword phrases you are targeting in the category names.

Warning: Don't take this to mean that you can stuff your categories with multiple keyword phrases. I have seen this practice done but it is dangerous and may result in penalties from Google.

3.    You can add up to ten photos -- add all ten!

Google allows you to use up to ten photos and I encourage you to use every one of them. If you really want to enhance the benefit they bring, consider uploading the images to Panoramio or Flickr and geo-tagging the images with your business address.

4.    You're allotted five videos -- don't forget to use them too

Yes, it's a bit harder to create videos than it is photos, but this is actually good news. How, you ask?

Well, you'll find that many businesses don't include a video in their listing and those that do rarely add all five. As I said in tip #1, the more complete your listing is, the easier it is to rank well for the terms you're targeting.

5.    Build as many citations as possible

A citation is an online reference for your business and services. Google uses them to validate that your business truly exists and that it offers the type of services you list on your Places page.

It's extremely important that your citations closely match the information found on your Places page.  As you can control the citations you create, it's best if the information matches your Places Page information EXACTLY!

You can create your own citations at directories like the Yellow Pages, Thompsons, Super Pages, CitySearch, Insider Pages, Yahoo Local, Localize and a number of others.

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