There is no perfect answer. Only the engineers at Google can answer this question with complete accuracy.
What we do know is that a website without links is tougher to rank than a website with links. So get relevant links any way you can in slow natural volume and make sure to maintain editorial discretion - avoid buying links from networks. It's ok to link with websites willing to link to yours. Just keep relevancy very high and your link acquisition rate normal.
I already know all of that, but i was referring to the google places update in general.
How does the importance of links (and certain kinds of links e.g. local links or anchor text with the location in it-links) change for local search queries, now that google places is all over the (local) SERPs?
Has anyone made any observations already (and is willing to share them :D)?
Places is all about being local, so think local & relevant for links.
In an AdWords training session I had we got some good advice which I think can be brought across to link building. They were talking about building the display campaign adgroups and how to structure them.
adgroups for direct products/services adgroups for a complimentary products/services - This works very well with getting local links adgroups targeting your audiences
There are two aspects to that question. One is the actual Google maps listing. The other is having a website customized to take advantage of local serps. For example "your city" + "your niche". The two working together can be dominating. The answer is different depending on the application. For both, citations or listings in local oriented directories and local oriented web sites is very helpful. So are local reviews. However, traditional links from article marketing, social marketing, blogs, and other areas are also very helpful if applied properly in both cases. It is also key to have a properly configured locally oriented website that is also referenced as the website address if your Google places listing.
I studied this in some depth about a year ago. I took several niches, looked at all the sites in the local results, then made two tables:
(a) the citations credited to the place page (note citations NOT just links), and (b) the other citations each site had.
In each industry this turned up certain common sites, and across all industries certain 'core' directories (in the UK Yell, Qype, TouchLocal etc).
Applying that knowledge niche to niche with the global listings sites as a standard set for all sites worked great - high success rate placing people in those results (and moved them up the regular results too).
This year... pfff. I've seen the places results dominated by interlinked sites for the same business, using mobile numbers and with one or two links outside the network. I've seen sites with hardly ANY citations beating sites with loads. Success rate has fallen to the point where I have 50/50 faith that I can get in there. That's not good enough.
I'm going to put a week aside and crunch through a loads of data to see what I can see. I so have a nasty sneaking suspicion that there's some random element at play here, but maybe that's me being pessimistic. Any analysis must be hard at the moment as the results seem to shift around a lot so Google appears to be playing with lots of different factors.
Re: reviews. Maybe, but I see sites with no reviews beating sites with loads of reviews.
Re: strong traditional link profile. That doesn't match what I see at all. I see sites that should be top (not talking about mine here, just quality sites) nowhere in these results whilst 5 min old, mobile number only listings are top.
Re: local optimisation on the website. Sensible, but doesn't seem to make a difference always.
Makaveli2007, do what you want to do with your links, but you were asking about places and link building and I was giving you my advice based on hundreds of places listings. I know local links work better for places listings than non local links if they are of a similar quality. Google looks at contact pages on websites as well and if you have a lot of sites that are close to you linking to you, how could that not signal a local indicator to google?
I didnt know you were giving that advice based on hundreds of places listings (you didnt mention that). thanks for sharing though (I really mean this - just so you dont confuse it with me being cyncial or anything)
the point i was getting at, though was - how has the places thing (in comparison to the local rankings before) changed the importance of local links. thats why i replied to you that i cant see why places is all about local...as in - more local than localized results were before (as google already knew how to spot local links before they rolled out the places listing big time).
anyway thanks for sharing your observations with me!
What kind of difference is there between citations and inbound local links? By citations do you mean social media mentions? im confused! lol
Citations include - unlinked urls / urls that go through redirects - brand mention (if identifiable enough) - address, postcode, perhaps tel no
Haven't seen it for a while but when places started (before it was renamed places) there were businesses in the top 8 results that had no website. Google HAD to be using other factors here; and I saw that these businesses were listed in local directories. This was also the same time that Google's 'branding' algo change came out. Aaron Wall wrote a great article about it at the time.
Between the paid listings and the maps listings there isn't any room above the fold for some of the cities we are attempting to link for (localized repair service). For others, maybe two positions. I'm finding that being #7 for organic search results is on page 2. That doesn't give us enough traffic to buy a better position. Cripes ... we're ON the map listing ... and buried on it, too.
It's pretty easy to get the complimentary and audience links, the direct links are the harder ones.
If you were a wedding dress shop, local links from venues/caterers/limousines/wine etc would be valuable.
Take it a step further than just asking for a link to your site on a useful links page. Get custom maps and addresses added to their pages linking back to you as well, more of a preferred partner thing. Create a custom map for people if you have to, it works quite a bit of the time.