Your Google Places listing can be one of the most powerful web marketing tools available, second only to your website. If you aren’t using Google Places to market your business on the web, then you are seriously missing out on a fantastic (and FREE) resource!

However, it’s not enough to just have a listing. You also want your Places page to appear as high on search engine results lists as possible. For that to happen, you must be meticulous with your page’s search engine optimization (SEO).

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an Internet marketing genius to optimize your Places page. Here are five easy ways to keep your Google Places listing SEO optimized:

Follow the rules! As you probably already know, Google is well known for taking serious measures to weed out things like spam, irrelevant content, and erroneous websites when determining its rankings. Google Places is no exception. When you create your Google Places listing, make sure you read up on Google’s content guidelines before you publish anything! Breaking any of these rules means Google won’t take your page seriously when ranking it and might not even let you play at all.
Third-party business directories. Make sure you also list your business in other free online business directories, including Bing, Yelp, and Yahoo. You can also link your business directory listings to your Google Places listing to improve your page’s SEO.
Categories. Google Places allows you to choose multiple categories for your listing. However, it is advisable that you are picky about which categories you choose, for the sake of not appearing spammy to search engine spiders. Instead, choose a couple of strong, concise categories for your business and stick to those.
Keywords. You have the opportunity to dramatically boost your listing’s SEO by including strong, key-word rich content in your business description. Make sure you do plenty of keyword research to find good, relevant keywords that have a strong web presence and that speak to your target audience. Also, don’t make the mistake of stuffing your content with superfluous keywords. When it comes to search engine rankings, your content should flow naturally and smoothly, and should ALWAYS make sense.