The world of SEO can be bewildering and full of competing, often unsupported, claims (promises) for success on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). Arriving at the coveted top spot, or simply on the front page of results, remains the Holy Grail in terms of organic SEO results.

However, Google doesn’t make it easy.

The algorithms used to calculate and process SERP results change frequently and with little to no warning. Companies scramble to interpret the changes and modify their approach on the fly. These changes sometimes leave websites that formerly performed well in SERPs much lower down on the Google page.

In fact, a recent change by Google eliminated the paid advertising space that used to reside in the right-hand column of the SERP. These ads have not disappeared but rather now appear in new spaces above and below the organic search results. Despite all these changes, there is one very important piece of real estate on the SERP that warrants a closer look.

Check Out “Google My Business

Beneath the paid results and above the difficult-to-achieve organic results are Google Places (now known as Google My Business).  What is Google My Business, you ask?

Google My Business is Google’s version of a Yellow Pages “ad” that runs on their Google Maps system. It is worth noting that YP.com uses Google Maps in its own service.

“Claiming” your business listing allows you to setup a very detailed pin on the Google Map system. You can post a detailed description, photos, business hours and product pricing or details. Your Google My Business listing also open your business to user reviews, another important data point in Google’s algorithm. Once your business has been claimed and is on the map, your listing will be well suited to taking advantage of highly valuable and typically more qualified geographic or “local” search terms.

Local, geographic search traffic can be extremely valuable. Google is now smart enough to “know” where you are when you search. It uses the keywords in your listing along with the location address to help your listing respond better when searchers are nearby.

Oh, and all of this is completely free!

The prominent placement, size, and performance of Google Maps results on the SERP makes claiming your business an absolutely essential and highly valuable step to take in the ongoing SEO efforts of your website. So what are you waiting for? Get on the map, now!

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