Google Places Myth: Linking to Your Places Page

I wondered if either of you had ever written an article (or seen a good one) on the merits of link building to a Place Pages. This is widely mentioned, of course, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything attesting the merits of the practice. – Miriam Ellis 

I see this piece of [mis]information being repeated and passed around local circles. Here is the response that I gave to Miriam as to my thoughts about the practice of linking to your Places Page:

This is a myth that has been spread around for years and is total poppycock.

Place Pages are search results. They are perhaps more static than some search results but there is no more substance to them than any Google search result.

Places Page have no authority status nor any status as a document and they are not indexed. Thus sending a link to them is like linking to a web page on Venus. It essentially passes link juice into the ether.

I can see no merit in passing a link to it.

Cerberus - The Mythical Multi Headed Creature
The one argument I have seen is that Google would increase the authority and thus rank of your business if the Place Page associated with that business has more authority. The reality is that Google has numerous tactics for correctly associating your Place Page with the most authoritative page (your website) for your business, not the least of which is the Places verification process. But even if you haven’t verified Google has numerous techniques (and patents) for associating the two successfully.

In fact not only do I see no merit in the practice, I see some harm in it. I have seen several SMB websites where the website links to their Places page directly from the main content area of their home page. The net affect is to dissipate page authority that should be passed along to interior pages of your site.

Like Cerberus, this myth has many heads, and like most myths seems to live on despite reason.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Places Myth: Linking to Your Places Page by

23 thoughts on “Google Places Myth: Linking to Your Places Page”

  1. Authority notwithstanding, the use of linking to a Place Page drives visibility to an external destination for marketing related purposes. You are right, linking from your home page is a bad linking structure practice, however embedding a map for an office while using the Place Page is definitely worthwhile.

    We can agree that link building to a Place Page is not.

  2. You are right that from a marketing pov that it is credible practice to link to your places page to show off your independent reviews. Making it so your website visitors could see them more easily is a good idea. But even in that situation I think the link should be a [no-follow].

    Could you expand on your comment: however embedding a map for an office while using the Place Page is definitely worthwhile.?

  3. I noticed a while back that a public map on Google (My Maps) that contained a places page can influencing the keywords that the places page would perform in. So I would err toward the belief you can influence places pages via links. It may be just a special case though.

    Maps also look like they perform better if they are linked to or +1ed.

    I now create a public map in Google for each of my localised clients. Add their places entry on it then embed that in the website.

    I wrote about it here…

    How Maps are influencing Google Places

  4. @tiggerito

    Certainly adding a MyMap map to the website makes lots of sense. MyMaps have always added a geo citation to your business and provided some strength to it.

    MyMap pages, unlike Places Pages, ARE indexed and do appear to carry authority. So I too always create a public MyMap and add a pin with their Place on it to the map. Chris Silver Smith did a nice write up on this at Searchengineland in 2009.

  5. I see the advantage of validating your Google Business Places Page for the purpose for which it was designed. To help the searcher locate you. From a marketing standpoint the page may be enhanced with pictures videos and additional information such as hours and cell phones.

    I have worked from the premise that a link FROM the Google Business Places Page ads authority to my site but have no data to prove it.

    I do link to the Google Business Places Page with a list of my model center locations and map images to click. I search in local cities on my phone and “my” Google Business Places Page show up first.

  6. Citations are the links of Local. If you want to add “juice” to your Local Search listing, get people to list your NAP on their website.

  7. Mike,
    I’m so glad you wrote this up! And it is great to read the comments. I hope more will come in. I appreciated your answer very much and was excited to see this article this morning. Thanks for putting some words out there that dispel this myth.

  8. Hi Mike,

    Good info. After doing a bunch of user testing, the overwhelming response from testers was they would leave my website to check out online reviews (and potentially find someone in the process to give their business to). Based on that response, I embedded links to my review pages on my homepage and invited users to check out my reviews. That gave me the option to show those review pages in a popout rather than having people leave the site altogether.

    I figured the links would also provide a strong signal in terms of associating my site with my review sites (Google, Yelp, etc.) but never thought about bleeding PR with those links. Are you suggesting best practice here would be to no-follow those links? It makes sense, especially given my homepage PR is only 2 so limited resources to spread around.

    Thanks!

  9. Thanks, Mike! So, that being the case, do you recommend using no-follow for your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. pages? Or do those benefit by PR flow?

  10. @Keith
    Hadn’t really thought about it. But it is not as clear as your Place page. Certainly they are indexable and rankable pages. The question is whether it is the best use of the limited strength that your site has.

    As it is right now, Google is not showing Facebook pages and Twitter pages very highly in the search results regardless so ….. I would think that it wouldn’t do you much good to link to them.

  11. Keith,

    Nice comments on the risk of sending customers to competitors.

    Doing nofollow does not preserve juice. You’re throwing it away instead of passing it on. So don’t do it!

    I would only do nofollows if I don’t have control over the links. Like in a comment stream.

  12. I’m with tigerrito on this. You have a compelling customer focused reason. That is good enough. No follow, follow its not going to make much difference. My article was for folks who do it because they somehow think it adds authority.

  13. Mike –

    Def agree! The fact that they are not considered documents by Google clearly insinuates they cannot be influenced by ‘link juice’. We have experimented with this and found your point to be exactly true.

    Now, I have heard recently of some folks creating links to citations ie the Yelp listing or InsiderPages listings. No word on whether that is influencing anything, but that seems to be happening as well. May need to experiment a bit and report back.

  14. Google changed the way it treats no-follow links a while back based on SEO’s ‘page sculpting’. Now if you add a no-follow link, you lose the exact same amount of link juice as if it were a followed link. This negates the use (abuse in Google’s eyes) of page sculpting with regard to follow/no-follow.

    Andy :-)

  15. I understand both edges to this blade. It seems by adding the link it is redundant however, having it attached does allow customers or clients etc. locate your business by staying on your page not having to flip back and forth. With technology these days though it doesn’t seem to matter all someone has to do is click the map on google and it can be placed into your GPS. From a computer tech’s point of view it doesn’t seem to make a difference either way. It is not hindering the page nor access.

  16. I am trying to figure out how to get my freeindex reviews (114 of them) to show on my Google places reviews..

    I have just posted a link to the reviews on my Google +, a link from my Yahoo page, facebook etc to try tie them all together! Will this work? Any other tips for getting reviews from at=round the web to show up!

  17. @Steve
    The page that has the reviews needs page prominence. It has to have enough strength to be viewed by Google as worthy of being attached to your Places listing. By my calculations it needs the rough equivalent of a PR3. So you might try linking to it from a page with some “juice”.

  18. @Mike

    Yes i do have a link from my home page to a page that has the ‘widget’ to display the reviews from Freeindex…

    Is that enough or the link should point directly to freeindex profile?

  19. It is if it gives the Freeindex page enough Page rank to be prominent enough. If not then you might need to send more links.

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