At the top of popular photography searches you’ll often find local business results above the regular Google results. A position here is search engine gold, generating huge volumes of contact requests for those lucky enough to rank. These photography business have a free Google Place which shows in Google Maps. The process to rank in this highly visible area is a little different than traditional Google. This post teaches photographers how to optimize a Google Place.
First, you need to have a listing to optimize. Search maps.google.com for your business and if it is already listed, click Edit this Place in the top right of the page. If you don’t find your business, create a listing at google.com/places/.
Google is looking to recommend your business to the people searching for a photographer. If you’re Google, what do you think makes a good business to recommend? Hint: it’s these:
- A close location
- A full and complete profile
- Business verified to exist
- Business recommended by others
- Keywords match what searcher wants
Match Your Location
Your physical location needs to be close to the search phrase, or the person searching (if they don’t enter a city name). A user searching for a Sacramento wedding photographer doesn’t want to see those from Folsom, a suburb 20 minutes away. Google will prioritize the businesses closer to Sacramento. Does that mean you need to have an address in the middle of downtown Sacramento? We’re not really sure, but I don’t think so. Any address with the city = Sacramento will suffice.
Don’t be tempted to get a PO Box closer to your desired city. Google knows what addresses are “rented” and rented-addresses expose a less secure business. Don’t try to create duplicate listings in different cities, or a listing for each of your photography niches (like one for wedding and another for pet photography). Google sees through these tactics and merges your results into a single place that ends up looking awful and is very hard to correct.
Submit a Full and Complete Profile
Fill out a complete profile. Enter a full description for your business, multiple categories (starting with portrait studio, photographer, or wedding photographer) and lots of images. Not many photographers add video, so that’s an easy way to get an edge.
Verify Your Information on Your Website
The information you enter will be verified across the web. Accelerate this process by listing the same business name, address, and phone number on your website (preferably the homepage or website footer).
Showcase Trust with Reviews
Your listing needs to be trusted for Google to recommend it. Do you think a person searching would rather hear about a business with ten 5-star reviews, or one without any reviews? Build up reviews over time by including your Google Places link when you email out client proofs. “Here are your proofs, I think they turned out great and I hope you do too. Please take a moment to review my business on Google at [link here]. You only need a review or two each month to show that you’re current and reputable. Please don’t get yourself blacklisted by getting a bunch of reviews in a short period of time. Act natural!
As mentioned last section, links to your site are the best indicator of trust and popularity. When other websites mention you with a link, it helps your regular rank and Google maps rank simultaneously.
Use a Keyword-Rich Description
Finally, keyword placement is a minor factor. Do NOT try and integrate keywords into your business name, which destroys your ability for Google to verify your information (since it won’t be able to find your keyword-stuffed business name anywhere else on the web). Do use quality keywords in your business description. “Offering wedding photography in Sacramento” is not as complete as “We photograph classic weddings and engagements in the Sacramento and Folsom area. View spectacular brides in our award-winning photo galleries.”