Grab 'Local' by the ...
I found an article by Dave Cosper, I think it's good and one worth summarizing.
In a nutshell Dave says (and I concur) the best way to encourage favorable placement for your business in Google Places for Business listings is to ensure the following are wrapped up with a pretty bow:
Location: Claim your business. Ensure NAP is all correct. We hear rumor that Google is now accounting for 'expanded areas of service.' This would be particularly important for tradesmen and sales people in all industries.
Currently, we believe the top results concur with the proximity of the searcher to the location searched. (Geo location targeting)
Information: Include as much relevant information as possible in your listing (keywords, media, links etc.) Stay focused on the keywords used in your industry to find your products/services. In Google Analytics there is something called Google Local Business Center- this can help choose the right terms. Take your listing seriously, especially if you expect Google to.
Corroboration: Verify that everywhere else on the web has the same NAP information. Canada 411, YP, Superpages, local business directories, Association websites, BBB these would be common avenues to verify. There are also tools you can use to locate your NAPs across the web. Each time your NAP is corroborated the higher your business will rank.
Consumer Reviews: Google reviews, Yelp!, Trip Advisor and other industry specific review sites will help Google prioritize you. Encourage your customers to take some time to give your business the positive feedback it deserves. Don't try and review your own business, Google recognizes unique from non-unique URLs in reviews.
- AVOID: 800# or multiple phone numbers (consistency in NAP is key)
- non-local area code
- use of a P.O. Box
- multiple Listings with same phone number or address;
- high percentage of bad reviews
Combined there are hundreds of other Search Engines and directories where a business can add/verify NAP listings.
It certainly helps to engage a SEO pro to wrap this item up properly.
All smiles, all the time.