I’m betting you’ve already seen — and hopefully had time to digest — this year’s edition of the Local Search Ranking Factors survey (LSRF). As always, it’s a must-read for anyone interested in local search rankings.
For the most part, I think the survey participants (disclaimer: I’m one of them, though I was unable to contribute to the same level I have in past years) got it right this year. But there’s one particular item I think they got wrong.
My Only Beef With The LSRF
One of the highest-scoring factors in the survey is Manually Owner-verified Place Page. It was ranked as the number two overall factor and the number three factor affecting “pure” (7-pack) listings.
In my opinion, claiming/verifying your Place Page has almost no impact on your Google local search ranking.
To be clear, let me clarify:
I don’t believe that the simple act of claiming a Place Page makes you rank higher — and that’s what the survey suggests. I do believe that claiming a Place Page opens the door that lets you do other things that do very heavily influence local rankings, such as list your business in correct categories, update/fix the business name, address, and/or phone number, and so forth. But the act of claiming a Place Page itself doesn’t make you rank better.
Google has very specifically explained that local rankings are based on location, relevance and prominence. Aside from the confirmation of a business address or phone number (one of which is required to claim a Place Page), I don’t believe that the act of claiming tells Google anything that helps your rankings.
It was just about a year ago that I examined the pure results for the search phrase “san francisco bakery.” Only one of the seven businesses listed had a claimed Place Page, and that business ranked in the “C” (third) spot.
My suggestion: This will be obvious to many readers, I hope, but the point here is to say that you can’t expect a huge boost in local search rankings just because you claimed your Place Page. You should definitely claim it, but don’t stop there: Build it out as much as possible with proper categorization, accurate business information, extra content like photos/videos and, if possible, reviews/ratings from happy customers.