Google PlaceRank and SEO

Filed in Google, Local Search by Matt McGee on December 7, 2009 15 Comments

google-favorite-placesOne of the new announcements from Google today involved what they’re calling “Favorite Places” — more than 100,00 businesses across the U.S. have earned that title and are receiving window decals so they can brag about it. The window decals have a QR code that can be scanned by certain smartphones, and doing so will bring up that business’ mobile Google “place page.” Greg Sterling explains the Favorite Places announcement on Search Engine Land.

This, to me, is really just a bragging point for the time being. If you own a storefront on Main Street in Anytown, USA, only a very small percentage of the people that walk by your window will have the smartphone and barcode-reading software required to play this game. But just being named a “Favorite Place” and having Google’s endorsement in your window can be quite a Big Deal. So there’s an obvious question….

How do you become a Favorite Place?

Google’s help pages say this about how Favorite Places are chosen:

“The list was determined based on the popularity of a business’ Local Business Center listing, as determined by how many times Google users looked for more information about a business, requested driving directions to get there, and more. Google users “decided” based on their actions, and we sent the decals.”

Check out that first sentence: “…based on the popularity of a business’ Local Business Center listing….” In other words, Google is choosing local businesses as “Favorite Places” based on a ranking system for Local Business Center listings.

This ranking system is called PlaceRank, and this is where I step aside and point you to this blog post by Ash Nallawalla: How to SEO for Google PlaceRank. In that post, Ash Nallawalla introduces the PlaceRank concept and digs into a Google patent about how it works. Must-reading for the local SEO crowd.

Comments (15)

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  1. Brian Combs says:

    I’m curious to find out how many Google Maps spammers receive the window decal.

  2. Oliver says:

    This is a really really cool idea on Google’s part. They are really upping their game in local search. I’m sure that this will create a ton of buzz.

  3. Karl Ribas says:

    Great run-down, Matt. This new feature sounds like it can be a real worthwhile addition to one’s small business marketing efforts. However, as Brian already mentioned, this will probably lead to more local “listing manipulation”, in which I’m afraid will devalue Google’s endorsement efforts. How do you foresee this playing out?

  4. Jeremy says:

    Can you say CitySearch Wannabe?

  5. Jason says:

    wow new window decals – What a goal to work towards…

  6. Justin M. says:

    A company I work for received theirs today. It’s a nice little presentation from Google, I had to explain to the client that it really didn’t mean much to them (other than the fact that I am doing a good job, obviously ;) because they’re a services company with no foot traffic. If only their button was a different than all the other businesses color inside google maps. Hopefully this encourages them to ask more customers for reviews though!

  7. Dan says:

    Really good idea again from google. I now this is going of subject matter slightly, but does anyone know if google has made some new rules in regards to google local? I have been hearing reports that peoples local adds/maps have been going missing?

  8. Stan says:

    I received the decal for my law practice and initially didn’t think much about it. As I investigated a bit, finding this blog and others, it appears a number of folks are very excited. I kinda agree, though, we this post in that folks walking by the office with a good smart phone isn’t going to be a real significant source of business. I am more interested in whether the QR Code could be reproduced and included with marketing materials, newsletter, e-mails, etc.

    Anyone know about the effects of copying the decal? How about blowing the QR Code up? Does it have to be a certain size?

  9. Matt McGee says:

    Great question, Stan — I have no idea. Wonder if anyone else has tried it?

  10. Shannon says:

    Stan, I photocopied ours and it scanned with no problem. I wouldn’t think you would have problems blowing it up but not sure that is necessary. Biggest issue comes from educating others what it really it. QR codes are still so new I don’t think a lot of people would know what it is if they received something from you. Also is there a permissions issue from Google here? I wouldn’t think so but you never know.

  11. GaryP says:

    When I first read about the QR codes I did some playing, came up with this for @MCIns http://yfrog.com/353x4cp

    I did find that not all readers can parse the different QR Code formats, on my Droid this QR Code gives me:
    Mid-Columbia Insurance
    8601 W Clearwater #A, Kennewick, WA 99336
    509-783-5600
    http://MidColumbiaInsurance.com <-link

    and 4 buttons: Add Contact, Show Map, Dial Number, Send Mail.

    Pretty cool.

  12. GaryP says:

    Here is a QR Code generator that has a number of formats you can create:

    http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/

  13. Matt McGee says:

    Thx for those links (and info), Gary – much appreciated!

  14. Chris says:

    The best thing to do is keep an eye out for people that are using a smart phone (iPhone, android, etc.) and start up a conversation with them… create interest!

    Chris

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