I believe I have found good evidence that referring to Places Pages within Google My Maps has an influence over how a places entry gets displayed in search results, and also the keywords it ranks for.
Like many things I discovered this by accident!
The map which caused this discovery is called My Adelaide SEO Clients . I bet you can guess what I do and where I live ;-)
The map contains the places entries for some of my local clients...
This map was quite handy about a year ago when Google would refer to related maps
in Places pages.
By including a Place on my map I could get that place page to link back to my map, and therefore my business. This no longer works
Notice the highlighted phrases SEO Adelaide and SEO and Web Promotion by Web Site Advantage. These are in the map title and in the text related to each place entry. I'd put them in deliberately to help cross promote my business.
You will see them again later!
So, like a good local SEO, I was checking what the local competition was like in Google Maps. To my surprise, my clients were competing in my industry!
This is page two of the maps search results for adelaide seo at the time of testing.
Notice how they all have snippets taken from my map, confirming there is a link between my map entries and the places pages.
Observation #1: It indicates you can influence what is displayed in a places entry via text you associate with that place in a map.
To avoid the personalisation of results, all tests were done using a separate chrome profile in incognito mode.
It's true. Most of those clients don't link back to my website and they don't use the term SEO in their website or Places entry. They would not have any SEO related backlinks apart from the odd link from my website, which would not be using SEO in the link text.
Observation #2:The only reason they are showing up for adelaide seo searches is because of their association to my map and its title.
If I search on the exact title My Adelaide SEO Clients then they dominate the first page. They also do well if I search using the text related to each place: SEO and Web Promotion by Web Site Advantage.
To me this is a very strong indication that the text in my maps can influence what terms a Places Page shows up in. The title of the map seems to have the most influence.
In my case nothing much! I guess my clients are pushing my competition out of the results and I'm getting a mention in their snippets.
But with this knowledge, you can help a places page perform in the keywords you want, and potentially control the text in the snippets.
It may even help them rank better!
Time for some more experiments...