In the last year alone, Optimized Local Search Services has claimed and optimized over 1000 Google Places listings for local businesses. The biggest challenge has always been quantifying the actual impact of the optimization because it would often takes several weeks for the Google Places analytics to start populating. Though a shift from zero to 1000s seemed dramatic, it was obviously not an accurate reflection because Google simply did not publish the statistics for the period prior to claiming the listing.

It appears they now are.

For each of the last dozen listings we have claimed as of the last week (July 2010), the previous 30 days of reporting has shown immediately upon verifying the listing. The reporting is immensely valuable to anyone who simply wants to know the impact of not only claiming a listing, but optimizing it as well. The ability to get a snapshot of the number of impressions as well as the top keyword searches and then track the changes post-claiming is invaluable.

While Google tacitly discourages business owners from making too many changes to their listing in an effort to over-optimize a listing, the ability to see the impact of the initial optimization process will no doubt lead to a better understanding of how Google Places works.

It is for the benefit of all businesses that Google does not publish their recipe for ranking Google Places listings – the playing field is all too even. However, a by-product of this void in knowledge is that all too often business owners inadvertently break Google’s unwritten rules and find themselves on the outside looking in. Kudos to Google for doing what they should have done long ago – provide some level of feedback to users so that we all can make better use of the system.

It is important to note that the instant reporting is only available when claiming an existing, unclaimed listing. Obviously reporting is not available when creating a new listing for a business not currently in Google Places.