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Using Citations To Optimize Google Maps Ranking

One of the most important factors in one’s ranking on Google is your volume of citations (i.e. mentions of your business name and address, not just links to your site.) The challenge lies not in obtaining hundreds of citations from any site, but by getting the right citations from the right places. That is, the sites that Google values for your type of business.

A good way to determine which citations one needs is by researching the competition and using their citations as a guide – much as one would do with link building for site ranking improvements. The process seems relatively straightforward.

However, there is a considerable discrepancy between the Place Page results one sees for a business versus the results of a standard Google search. This information can lead business owners astray when they are looking to increase their citations.

Let’s take an example. If I’m an orthopedic surgeon in San Jose, I may consider Dr. Leo Semkiw a competitor that I’d like to emulate. Because I want to match his citations, I look to his Place Page:

place page results

His Place Page shows 30 results, but if you check the links, many of them have nothing to do with Dr. Leo Semkiw – including the last three of the results on the first page. For example, the fifth link brings us to an injury report of some man named Vinny, with no mention of Dr. Semkiw.

Now if I do a Google search for him, I find many more relevant results:

google search results

The first thing that strikes me is that his Merchant Circle and Yahoo listings (among others) come up first on the Google search results, and don’t appear at all on his Place Page results.

Given that Google is usually very good at analyzing the content of web pages, why didn’t Google include these relevant results in the Place Page? Google lists Yahoo Local and Merchant Circle in other Place Pages, so what could be the reason for this? You could argue that Google strives to put only the most high quality results on the Place Page, but that doesn’t account for the low quality results on Dr. Leo Semkiw’s Place Page.

So how should business owners go about determining which citations they need? Clearly Yahoo Local and Merchant Circle are sites worth getting listed on, but if you do, will Google give you credit for those citations? Some citation tools use Google search results while other local analytic services use the citations from the Place Page. Curious to hear your thoughts…

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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