Google Places Optimization Checklist, Part 2

Guest Post:  Adam Steele is the CEO at Nightlite Media. His expertise includes SEO, social media and email marketing. This is Part 2 of Google Local Results Changed the Game.


97% of consumers search for local businesses online. You definitely want to be there when they’re looking for you with Google Places for business.

Google wants to show its users the most relevant, up-to-date, quality information (including companies) possible. This is its mission and just one reason it is the biggest. As such, when it comes to optimizing your Google Places page, you should keep this in mind.

The following are some simple tips and guidelines to a successful Google Places page optimization. The quick tweaks will improve your chances of securing better positions for your business. Please keep in mind that Google Places is constantly changing, and what works at the time of this checklist may change dramatically in 30 days. Saying that, we have tried to keep to the things that have remained a constant for some time now.

Initial Process

  • Select the area/city you wish to target
  • Keyword Search: Put in a word that you “think” the average person would type in Google when looking for a business in your city. (NOT the name of a business, but a word or phrase.) Example: ‘Dallas electrician’. Google will suggest other popular words below that term. View the ones that are popular and record them. Make sure you deselect broad and select exact (on the left) and focus your attention on local volume/searches, not global.
  • Identify keywords you would like to dominate in your local town/city and search them for yourself. Not all keywords will trigger Google Places. So, you need to make sure the ones you go forward with bring up Google Places results when you search for them.
  • Record on a piece of paper the top 5 -10 keywords and rank them in order of priority (keep on hand).


  • Set up a Gmail account if you don’t have one already here.
  • Search for your company to see if an existing Google Places page is already setup. Go to and put in your phone number with area code to see what comes up. Try more than one phone number if you have more than one for your business.
  • If after you check, you DO have a page, then you will simply want to “Edit Page” if there is anything you want to change (check below to see if your current Google Places page has the appropriate content listed below.) If you do NOT have a page after entering your phone numbers, then you will want to create one!

Creating A Google Places Page

  • After you have created a Google account, you will want to set up your Page. Answer every question (Leave nothing undone – Google views this as “incomplete”.)
  • Company Name (Without keywords) DO NOT get fancy here. Stuffing your title with keywords is just going to get you in trouble. In the past, stuffing the title offered an SEO advantage, but now it is both risky and unnecessary. Simply put your business name here as it is recognized everywhere else.
  • Street Address: Your business address as it occurs everywhere else online and offline. Consistency and accuracy are KEY. If your business has existed for some time, try and search your own address. Look for the most popular address for yourself and go with that one if it’s applicable–otherwise update it. You would be wise to go back and adjust all those addresses that are different than what you use in your Google Places page. NOTE: If later you decide to make any changes to your address, Google will very likely request to send you a post card before updating.
  • City/Town: Self Explanatory. NOTE: This is the city that you will have the best chance of ranking in for your keywords.
  • Main phone: Same principle as your street address. Take a look how your phone number appears already online. Is it in (xxx) or xxx? You want it to appear in Google Places the same way it does elsewhere online.
  • Website: Use http://www. You want it to be hyperlinked.
  • Description: I would typically suggest using the same one that occurs in your site’s meta data (description tag) for consistency. Keyword rich is fine, but don’t make it spammy. Also, consider your click through rate (CTR). Searchers will see this, and decide whether they want to click or not so don’t be afraid to be a bit ‘salesy.’
  • Category: Few things to know here. Stay the heck away from city modifiers. That is, your category should be ‘electrician’, NOT ‘Dallas electrician.’ Doing the latter will get you in trouble. Google gives you 4 custom categories and one pre-defined. Make good use of them and align them with the keywords you want to rank for. Similar to the Company/Organization field, categories are being screened and the same sensitive keywords apply. Custom categories don’t really have to be too coherent. If you have a lot of keywords you are targeting, try and combine them with other keywords, but again, not too spammy.
  • Service Area and Location Settings: Pretty self explanatory. It is commonly used if you are using an address outside of the city/cities that you want to rank in OR you want to rank in all your surrounding cities. Use this function to define your service area(s). NOTE: You aren’t going to rank in San Fran, if your address is in Austin. Obvious, I hope. However, if your address is in the suburb of San Fran and you want to rank in San Fran and its surrounding suburbs is doable. Being outside of the city you want to rank in puts you at a disadvantage. If you are trying to rank for a competitive keyword and you are not located in the city you want to rank in, you could be hooped.
  • Hours & Payment: Just make sure this is consistent with everything else that is published online.
  • Photos: Yes, you should add photos. Photos uploaded should be saved as ‘cityname-state-keyword’ and then uploaded. Google also gives you the option to “Add a photo from the web.” I like to add a picture from the website. This creates a connection between your Google Places page and your website. This is a good thing.
  • Videos: Yes, you should add video preferably of a testimonial like a customer (not you). These can be YouTube videos. Remember to make sure your files are named after a keyword.

Verification: More than likely Google will want to send a post card. The post card typically takes 5-8 business days to arrive. When it arrives, log back into your Google Places dashboard and enter a PIN code to verify and activate your listing.

Similar to my last post, there is a perk for reading. This articles perk is 3 months of FREE Google Places page optimization…a $300 value!! To enter the draw, send your answer to the following question to Also, if you like some of the tips above, follow me on twitter for more at

Question: In the categories section of your Google Places page, doing what can get you in trouble?

Should You Move Your Blog or Not?

Have you ever thought about moving your blog from one host to another, but were afraid of what might happen to your search engine ranking?

Should Double Dragon Jewelry move their blog?

Should Double Dragon Jewelry move their blog?

Cindy of Double Dragon Jewelry Ltd. is deciding that exact scenario. She’s debating whether to move her new blog from (one of the most popular blogging software programs) to one that will allow her to keep her blog as part of her jewelry website.

Just to make this clear, her jewelry is being sold on:

Her blog is currently at:

Her web host, i.e. CityMax which is us, has added a blogging option so she could have her blog on:

If Cindy moved her blog to, she would have to weigh the following:

1. Potential to improve the rank of

Having her blog on her CityMax site will do 3 things that may increase her search engine rank for First, every blog post is new content on her site. The more often you update your site, the more often search engines will re-index it (i.e. check out your site to see what new info is posted so their links are up to date) and rank your site higher.

Second, each blog post Cindy does will hopefully result in more links to because people like her posts. Each link or “vote” helps your search engine ranking. If a website with a high search engine rank links to your page, this is even better. Their “vote” for your site is actually worth several votes.

Third, each time Cindy posts a new article, this will result in a new page that can be linked to from the search engines to her site. This in turn will mean more opportunities to draw people to her site. The more people who visit her site, the higher her website ranking will be.

2. Cannot take search engine rank of to new blog

If Cindy already has a good rank for,she cannot transfer that rank directly to her new blog pages. This is because her blog is moving to a different domain. The search engines will recognize this change as has shut down and then when they index her blog on, they will recognize this as a new blog.

3. Beware of duplicate content as it can get your site delisted temporarily

If Cindy plans to move over articles she posted on to, she could get delisted temporarily. The reason is search engines don’t like duplicate content or even very similar content. It looks like someone who isn’t an authority on a topic, just copied someone else’s content. Everything is automated too, you cannot tell Google: “Hey, I just moved my blog to ______.”

Cindy may want to only post new articles on her blog at first and not copy over any of her old articles. After her old blog has been closed for a considerable amount of time (many months) such that the old page content is no longer indexed on search engines, she can then repost the articles.

4. Potential to increase sales on

Cindy is likely to get more people to click to other parts of since her website navigation will be right beside her blog posts. This may result in greater sales. Note that if she didn’t move her blog over, you could argue that she could simply have a link to her jewelry online store.

5. Functionality and Convenience

Cindy needs to weigh the functionality of the 2 blogs. To BlogSpot’s credit, they have had many years to develop their site and blogs are their primary focus. CityMax is an all-in-one website builder and must balance the benefits of developing the blog further against other features that are requested. When it comes to convenience, Cindy may like that she can manage everything on CityMax instead of having to monitor 2 websites.

If anyone has any other reasons to move or not move a blog, please post them in the comments.

5 Tips for the Newbie User

Posted April 21st, 2011 in Getting Visitors, Introduction, Selling Online, Website Builder Features by Justine

So, it’s my first week here at, and as a dedicated web coach one of my first assignments was to dive right into the easy business website builder. After getting used to making my way around the application and understanding how to take advantage of all the tools available, I’ve found five helpful tips for the newbie user!

1. The “Edit Site” tab will always be your go-to button.

When you sign up for your free 10 day trial, or if you’ve just made your website active, the “Edit Site” tab when you login on the top left beside the “Dashboard” tab is the most important tab for navigating your website. This tab will have five helpful sub-tabs: View Site, My Pages, Add Page, Design, and Domain & E-mail. You will be able to access all your pages here (under “My Pages”), as well as change and customize your template (Under “Design”). This is the best place to keep your website organized.

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How To Market a Unique Product Online

Posted March 12th, 2010 in Getting Visitors, Guest Blogger, Introduction, Selling Online by admin

mattfriesenGuest blogger: Matt Friesen is the founder and CEO of Thirdi, a Vancouver Software Development and Internet Marketing company.

What do you do if you are selling something new and original: like a hoodie designed to look like a monster. Even if you captured 100% of the people looking for “Hoodies that make you look like a monster”, you likely aren’t going to have a substantial business. Search advertising can’t capture that intent. Display advertising is too easily ignored, and lacks the necessary credibility, to sell someone on a radically new idea. To make someone take the leap into buying something silly the best way is to have a personal, human recommendation.

Unique products require a human touch and a personal connection. Unique products must fit into communities or they will not be appreciated. Here are 3 questions we ask ourselves, at Thirdi, before starting to market a unique product:

1. What specific groups would enjoy this product?

Don’t cop out and say that your audience is ‘everyone’. Some groups will always be better suited to your product than others. Are you looking for kooky soccer moms or under-18 scenesters. Maybe your audience has an obscure profession, like cartographers or jugglers. You have to have a clear idea of the answer to this question before you can proceed.

2. Where do these groups congregate online?

Start doing Google searches for key terms related to your audience. Make lots of bookmarks using tools like Delicious or Faviki and keep them organized. You’ll also want to qualify these groups by their scale and influence somehow as well, to make sure you aren’t wasting time on communities of 20 people. Two easy ways to do this are to use the Google Toolbar to measure the a site’s pagerank or a service like to measure (rough) size. The details aren’t important, you just need to establish a set of priorities.

3. Who are the most important members of the group?

Every group has a leader. Spend a bit of time digging through each of these crowds and a clear leader will start to emerge. Usually, you can just look through 20 or 30 random posts and start to notice that one name keeps popping up over and over. These leaders will write 10X the post of average users, and command 50X the influence. If you can win them over, the rest of the group will take notice.

Finding these individuals may seem like a lot of work, especially since these efforts may only lead to a handful of immediate sales. What they do offer you is a great place to test your marketing messages. Start a conversation with these individuals and see if your message is resonating. If they like it, they’ll tell their friends and your product will start to catch on. If they don’t, you will have received free marketing feedback from your exact target consumer. Either way, you will have gained some valuable data and possibly a few helpful allies.

Celebrating the Women of!

Posted March 8th, 2010 in News, Introduction by Patrick

March 8 is International Women’s Day: a day to celebrate and recognize women all around the world. The number of women in professional occupations in business has risen by 50% over the past decade (more than double the rate seen among men). To celebrate, we’re profiling a handful of the incredible women on the team. Thank you – we couldn’t do it without your help!

aniName: Ani
Dream Business: An R&D house creating user interfaces based on new technological concepts, such as the Semantic Web and Augmented Reality. ‘Web 3.0’
How long I’ve been with Since November 2004
Role at Product Manager – I am responsible for the technology: network infrastructure, product development & quality.
My female role model: Helen Greiner – Co-founder of iRobot Corp. and inventor of the Roomba. She is not only an entrepreneur, but also a strong leader and innovator in a predominantly male industry. Her unique approach to robotics aims to make them a more versatile and integral part of our daily lives.

yasName: Yasmin
Dream Business: SEO consultant (realistic) or a Disney Imagineer (well, it is the happiest place on earth)
How long I’ve been with Since March 2005
Role at Business Manager – I am responsible running the day-to-day business, as well as everything to do with people (human resources). You might call me the Chief People Officer!
My female role model: Besides my mom, I would have to say Jane Austen. I admire her strength as a woman, considering the era she was born in. Not only is she a strong role model for women, but all of her characters are strong women by any era’s standards.

corinneName: Corinne
Dream Business: A Geeky Gadget Design company. I can’t wait till the day I see someone walking down the street with my designs!
How long I’ve been with Since January 2009
Role at Support Manager – I am responsible for keeping all our customers happy! I help resolve any issues our customers have, and also teach them technical skills for their websites.
My female role model: Randice-Lisa Altschul – the inventor of disposable cell phones.  She is also a successful toy designer and patent holder.  To be able to invent simple toys/games, then make the leap to create several high-tech, ground-breaking technologies inspires me to do the same.

guName: Mara
Dream Business: A vacation resort in Mexico
How long I’ve been with Since October 2006
Role at Editor in Chief – I am responsible for all things “text”,  including internal and external communications, social media, and application design.
My female role model: Ann Handley – an extremely talented and successful writer/marketer. She co-founded, manages personal and corporate blogs, and is also the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, an invaluable resource for any marketer.

beaName: Bea
Dream Business: Exotic Food Restaurant
How long I’ve been with Since March 2007
Role at Quality Control – I handle all quality control and testing, making sure that our software products meet the qualified requirements for customers in terms of  performance, usability and functionality.
My female role model: U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. She has endured and triumphed over several life obstacles while in the public eye. It takes tremendous determination and hard work to achieve what she has. Her courage and assertiveness are very inspiring to young women. I admire her wit, edginess, and accomplishments in the political sphere.

For more on International Women’s Day:

Ken Lyotier: Vancouver DTES Entrepreneur and Olympic Torch-Bearer

Posted February 11th, 2010 in News, Introduction, Personal Message by admin

2010-02-11-ken_lyotier_07It’s not often that you get to meet someone like Ken Lyotier – a man who rose above his own personal challenges to create a well-respected, non-profit business by uniting a community more known for sad stories of homelessness and addiction rather than those of success.

Lyotier is the founder and former Executive Director of United We Can, a non-profit bottle depot that operates out of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. This week, we were lucky enough to have Lyotier come in and tell his inspirational story to us first hand during our weekly team learning session.

Like many entrepreneurs, Lyotier started off by identifying a problem that he was experiencing himself. While trying to earn a living by collecting recyclable cans and bottles, he found that the stores that were supposed to honor the refunds were often unwilling to accommodate the bottle returns.

With the help of a local minister, he and a friend decided to organize an event where people could bring in non-recyclable items for cash – he was overwhelmed with the response and energy it generated from the community.

“The buzz you get from people being excited about what you’re doing is better than any high you’ll ever get from drugs or alcohol,” says Lyotier.

After searching for answers to local recycling issues and working with the government and VanCity, United We Can was founded in 1995 and has grown into an impressive source of inspiration, empowerment, and employment to people living in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Over the past few years, the organization has grown beyond the bottle depot to include other services that work well within the community, including a bicycle repair shop and computer recycling.

Along with being a well-respected member of his community, Lyotier’s positive impact on the community has also recently earned him an invitation to light the cauldron at the 2010 Vancouver Games celebration site after being handed the Olympic torch by Canadian singer Michael Buble.

Ken Lyotier is an inspiration to any entrepreneur and he also provides some food for thought. What business opportunities surround you in your own life? What’s holding you back? Use personal challenges to take a step forward and write your own success story.

Presenting Your Homepreneur of the Year: Marco Barberini, the 24-Year Old Gas Jockey turned Pet Tag Mogul

Posted February 1st, 2010 in News, Contests, Introduction, Selling Online by admin

The judges made their final tallies and have declared Marco Barberini of our Homepreneur of the Year!2010-02-01-marcoandheatherbarberini21

Marco’s vision, story, and growing success stood out from an impressive group of finalists. The 24-year old former gas station employee from a tiny Michigan town began his site in 2006 with no HTML experience. In 2007, he ended up quitting his job to focus on his business and has now tagged over 32,000 pets!

In an interview, Marco said: “A few years ago, my wife Heather and I realized we were tired of working paycheck to paycheck and started focusing on Overnight Pet Tags. We built out our site with and eventually started ranking in the search engines. Our online sales have increased by 100% each year and our dream is to tag every pet in the United States.” is currently generating $6,000 – $8,000 in monthly online revenue and, according to Marco, requires only 7 to 10 hours of his time each week.

As Homepreneur of the Year, Marco is the winner of a $10,000 prize package, including a round-trip flight to Vancouver, Canada, three days in a beautiful luxury hotel, the Red Carpet treatment, a day of 1-on-1 expert consultation at HQ, and a complete redesign of his website. He’ll also receive a life-time subscription to for himself and five small businesses of his choosing.

Our two runner-up winners are:
2010-02-01-meredithpattersonnewMeredith Patterson (, an enterprising musical theatre and TV actress who has appeared on All My Children.

2010-02-01-unusual-threads-michael-maryMichael and Mary Ferrari (, a retired couple who are generating millions of dollars annually with their online celebrity fashions business.

Our runner-ups will each receive a custom redesign and website makeover ($1,000 value), plus a lifetime subscription to for themselves and three small businesses of their choosing.

Congratulations again to all of our inspiring winners!

If you know someone you’d like to nominate for Homepreneur of the Year (online home-based business, please email

The Small Business Makeover Begins!

Posted December 21st, 2009 in Contests, Introduction by admin

Wendy Lau of, our Small Business Makeover winner, made the trek down to our offices last week to meet the team and give her online presence a shot in the arm.

Nine years ago, Wendy started selling environmentally friendly cleaning products online as a part-time distributor. She quickly grew to the point where she actually bought out the original owner four years ago and now runs the entire business!

We were excited to meet Wendy, who’s been with since we were just three people huddled in a tiny office. She’s already had some serious success, but Wendy told us she now wants to “make more and do less.” Sounds like our kind of challenge!

Our experts sat down with her and talked custom re-design, local search marketing, and search engine optimization for her site. Wendy even got to check out our daily huddle and meet our two dogs. All in all, it was a great start to the makeover – stay tuned to see what Wendy’s finished makeover looks like!