We all know that Google Places listings are important because we use them in our everyday lives all the time.

50% of those using local search will visit the store within a day (and those are Google's 2014 figures).

So what can businesses do, very simply, to improve local search?

David Whatley of MiShop.local talked at BrightonSEO about Google local listings as the join between retail and search.

Those with healthy local listings are those that likely have organisation integration between retail and digital.

Let's contrast a great Google Places experience with some not so good ones, using David's examples.

Schuh - an excellent local search experience

Schuh's Places listings are all in order, as you'd expect, including link to website, opening hours and phone number. 

Note I can also click through to the Places listing for the shopping centre the store is located in.

schuh google places schuh google places schuh google places

When I click through to the website, I am sent to a store-specific URL (/stores/machester-market-street). 

It is mobile optimised, but for clarity I'm including the desktop screenshot here.

Things to note:

  • Location-specific stock check.
  • Location-specific content in schema (reviews of this particular store are included and picked up in Google Places).
  • Address, phone number and opening times consistent with Google Places. 
  • Local content.
  • Mobile optimised site.
  • Store specific page.

schuh store page

William Hill - a poor local search experience

As you can see from the screenshots below, lots of stores seem to lack Google Places listings.

Those that are listed have no opening times, branding or information.

william hill google places william hill google places william hill google places

It gets worse once you click through to the linked websites.

The Places link takes me to the William Hill homepage, not to a store specific page.

On desktop, store information is hard to find (see below) and there is no store information at all on William Hill's mobile site.

william hill homepage

Once I have clicked the stores link on the William Hill homepage I'm taken to an entirely separate website.

Here, the store finder makes you start again and input your location, even though William Hill should know you have clicked through from a Places listing.

william hill shop locator

Finally I get the information I need.

It's obvious that William Hill's digital team is not working with its shop team.

william hill store locator

Other local search experiences that can be improved

Pets At Home's Google Places listings link through to a website that isn't mobile optimised.

pets at home google places  pets at home store locator

Debenhams' Places listings link to a store finder that doesn't sit on the Debenhams website (even though it does have one here).

Nor is the store finder mobile optimised.

debenhams google places  debenhams store finder  

What have we learned?

  • Google Places can be the link between retail and search.
  • Listings need to be properly formatted - consistent name, address, phone number.
  • Good photos, logos and keywords should be included in Places listings.
  • Places listings should link to store specific web pages on your main mobile optimised site.
  • These webpages should include local schema, including reviews.
  • Store web pages can enhance the experience by providing local stock check, click and collect info, and content.

More on local search:

Ben Davis

Published 8 September, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (2)

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Ben Collaton, SEO/SEM Specialist at Snowys Outdoors

Thanks for the article Ben, there are so many under-utilised local listings out there. In cross checking my listing, I notice the images in your article show a business description below the Call/Directions/Website CTA's, is this content generated by Google? I can't seem to find anywhere in the GMB dashboard that relates to this field.

almost 2 years ago

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Alex mearns, Ecommerce Project Manager at Mecca

For added insight, add google campaign codes to your google places store URLs.

almost 2 years ago

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