We’ve all seen and implemented Google Places (now often known as Google Plus Business) listings for our own sites and our clients, however when you look into data, do they really convert impressions to clicks and actually drive traffic? Our first instinct is often to state that yes, such listings do convert impressions to clicks due to the additional data offered on local searches such as location and phone number details, as well as the standard web address, however in reality, experience suggests that such listings can actually negatively impact on organic search traffic, often quite considerably! We thought we would take a look at this concept in a little more depth and try and outline exactly why Google Places really isn’t that great for most businesses and why impressions usually don’t convert to clicks! To do so, we’ve teamed up with leading Essex based SEO agency, Speedy SEO, to take a look at the concept and what you can do to ensure Google Places doesn’t have a negative impact upon your organic search engine traffic!

In the first instance, it’s worth looking at why people sign up to Google Places in the first instance and I think it’s safe to say that the main reason lies in the attraction of local business data being shown directly to potential clients and customers from the SERP’s. In theory, a searcher can visit your business or call you without having to visit your website and this does need to be taken into consideration, however in reality, the click through rate on Places listings is nowhere near as strong as an organic listing in a similar position on the page! Business owners and SEO’s sign up to Google Places expecting to essentially duplicate their or their clients presence on page 1, however the reality is that this rarely happens and both SEO and client are left a little confused. Why, then, is this the case in most instances and why doesn’t Google Places provide you with an opportunity for 2 page 1 listings?

When you look deeper, you start to see that those who rank on page 1 of Google on the map listings for a certain keyphrase don’t tend to rank organically as well. Is this part of the algorithm Google have never openly touched upon? It certainly seems to be the case that you cannot have the homepage of your website ranking on both organic listings and Google Places on page 1 of Google and this is where many of the issues arise! A homepage for a website may well rank in number 2 or 3 on organic listings in the first instance, driving some great levels of targeted traffic across localised keyphrases to the site. As soon as the site is signed up and verified for Google Places however, the listings in essence merge and appear only on the Places listings, a section which certainly seems to get much lower click through rates. From here, search traffic levels drop and concerns can arise for both the SEO and the client.

There is, however, a relatively easy way to resolve this issue and, in some instances, prevent it from happening in the first place. When signing up for Google Places, be sure NOT to use the homepage as your web address, use your about us page or the like. That way, it isn’t your websites homepage trying to rank twice on page 1, albeit across different listing types, and it will generally be the case that you DO see two listings appear on page 1.

Above all, think carefully before you sign up to Google Places and ask yourself whether or not it will really benefit the business?