Description Best Practices in the NEW Google Places Dashboard

Linda Buquet

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How long should descriptions be now that Google gives you more room in both the new Google for Business dashboard and on Google+? What are the description gotchas to be aware of?

Mike Blumenthal shares great tips over at the LocalU blog.

How Long Should Your Business Description Be in the Google Places for Business Dashboard?

In the old Google Places dashboard the limit was a measly 200 characters. Hardly enough to say anything.

In the new Google Places for Business dashboard & on G+ Pages for local management interface, the limit is not nearly so Scrooge-like. Still, the description should be short and sweet. It should be an elevator pitch that convinces a reader and potential customer with brevity. If it is too long, it pushes your (hopefully) good reviews down the page making them less visible to a reader and requiring them to scroll to see them.
Read the rest, as Mike shares other good insights as well.

Here is what Joel Headley from Google says:


What constitutes Description spam? - Google Groups

Descriptions should be human-readable fields. Think of adding an "elevator pitch " for your business. If you follow that principle, I think the questions are mostly answered.
We don't map out our "lines" else someone figures out how go under them.

Regarding penalties, think of it more as a single to your ranking instead of an explicit penalty. Everything that's added to the listing that would be useful for a user can improve the ranking while other things that would confuse a user or try to dupe them lowers the ranking.
Another Tip: Don't Cap Every Word As Google Wants Normal Sentences.
Typing In All Caps Can TRIP a FILTER!

Mike also says "according to Google the content of the description is no longer used in ranking".

However that's still where many business owners and consultants get spammy - thinking the more times you repeat stuff, the higher you'll rank. Not true!

A best practice I stress in training - to be on the safe side: Don't keyword stuff or repeat city, state, phone or business name in the description field. I've seen ranking penalties for repeating city multiple times and some say excessive keyword repetition can cause a problem as well.

Another thing to consider... Why waste precious characters repeating anything that's already at the top of the page? Use that description for information that will increase conversions. Think of the deeper emotional need someone searching for that service has and speak to that. Talk benefits, solutions and what sets your business apart.

Consultants if stumped - think like a consumer. What would compel YOU to select one business over another if you were in the market for that service?

Additionally, look at their "about us" page or their mission statement. The "about our company" section at the bottom of press releases is another good place to look for inspiration. Someone at their company already put a lot of time and thought into crafting information in those places. I would not use that info word for word, just for ideas.

In summary, even though currently the Google+ Local page is diminished somewhat and harder for consumers to find now - that info you put in the dashboard is still important. I believe the Google algo still uses the description somewhat to determine relevance and your dashboard data is syndicated out various ways in various places - so you still want to put a little energy into getting it right.
 

Gayle Katz

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Feb 5, 2014
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Hi Linda -

I'm working my way through your Advanced Google+ Local course and I'd like your opinion on adding other cities to the description. I understand the description is for potential customers, conversion and should be succinct, but what about adding surrounding towns to encourage visits from those in adjacent areas? The purpose of adding these neighboring towns is to show we're not that far away from you (the potential customer).

Also, does this rule also apply to other 3rd party directory listing descriptions, for example on Yahoo Local, YP or Insiderpages, etc.? Or is this just a Google rule for now?

Thanks!
Gayle
 

Linda Buquet

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Hey Gayle, good to hear you are winding your way through the training.

but what about adding surrounding towns to encourage visits from those in adjacent areas? The purpose of adding these neighboring towns is to show we're not that far away from you (the potential customer).

Also, does this rule also apply to other 3rd party directory listing descriptions, for example on Yahoo Local, YP or Insiderpages, etc.? Or is this just a Google rule for now?
Well adding neighboring towns in description won't help you rank there. So if someone is in city 3 searching for "KW + city 3", then this listing will not usually show up so that consumer in city 3 won't see it. But you could say something more regional, serving the tri city area or whatever.

"Or is this just a Google rule" not a rule, just best practice and I've seen it trip a spam filter. I don't think it would apply to other directories and I suspect adding city in the description there could possibly even help. (possibly)
 

Adam Zahler

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Apr 8, 2014
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Hi Linda,

I'm also going through the Advanced Google+ training and so far it is just what I needed...

So for the description, I have just taken on a client whose Google Places / Plus was merged manually by their previous SEO. Looking at the description they have included the city name a couple of times, the client's category name a couple of times and also the names of about 10 surrounding areas within the city that are close by (eg 'Uptown', etc). These are things I'll be addressing but what I'm not yet sure of is the fact that their previous SEO included 5 links pointing to various internal pages on the client's site. 4 of those links are displayed in a bulleted list.

My instinct is telling me based on where I'm up to in your course (just watched video 3) I should ditch the links. I have not gone any further on the course yet so forgive me if this is addressed later. I just wanted to get your opinion of links in the description. BTW, the links are not keyword stuffed and the text would be of interest to potential clients so when I re-write the description I may include similar text but not as a bullet list or links.

Thanks!
 

Linda Buquet

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Great questions all Adam.

What I taught in that section was about the old Places dash that was 200 characters. In October when I recorded that video, not that many had G+. Now with everyone being upgraded to G+ it's all changed.

No one knows for sure about links in the description, how many there should be or if you can get dinged for them.

I just recently posted this too: Google Local Algo Change or Did Spam Filters Get Dropped?

When you look at that spammy description and the fact that the listing ranks in the A spot for Seattle Chiropractor - it appears they may no longer ding for description spam.

HOWEVER that's now, tomorrow they might. So I still subscribe to being conservative in the description and being careful.

The other important thing to realize about descriptions is, well really 3 things...

1) The way Google hides the about page now, not that many customers will ever even see it, so I would lean toward best practices and be careful not to cross any "potential" lines with Google.

2) I believe Google has come out and said, the description is not a ranking factor, so loading it up with KWs, city, or links won't help you there.

3) IMO the description should still be fairly short. This is NOT your web page and you should not write a book telling your whole story and linking to every product or service. All that does is PUSH DOWN YOUR PRECIOUS REVIEWS, which for many businesses is their greatest selling point or differentiator of all.

The entire goal of the description should be to give them the sizzle --- NOT the steak! Give them just enough of the really important stuff to get them to either click to your site OR pick up the phone and call.

I'll add a link to this post under video #3. Thanks for bringing it up!
 

Adam Zahler

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Apr 8, 2014
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Thanks Linda. When considering from the actual user's point of view it just gets complicated and confusing for them by adding a bunch of links to the site. It is probably best to say 'we accept insurance' rather than link directly to the page on the site about insurance as this would distract the potential client from the main message which is we are you best choice blah blah blah.

Basically for the client I'm looking at they are asking me why they dropped out of the 7-pack a few weeks ago for their main keyword and this is what prompted me to take your course so I'm looking to improve their Google+ page.
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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13,308
If you want help diagnosing the drop you can post it in help in the private pro forum and we'll see if we can give you any other ideas.
 

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