When it comes to social media marketing, especially with enterprise focused campaigns, Google+ has Thus far taken a backseat. But, when it comes to local, Google+ is arguably a more important asset than Facebook or Twitter. Ever since Google connected Places For Business with Plus, to serve a more integrated profile, it has become crucial for business’ to pay importance to their updates and presence on Google+
Today there are more than 500 million Google+ accounts, with an estimated 343 million of those being active. Those stats will only continue to grow, because Google strongly encourages searchers, Gmail users and YouTube subscribers to activate and engage on Google+.
In its effort to get people to adopt the social network, Google integrated many of their most popular and most valuable properties into Google+, guaranteeing that businesses using it would have better outcomes than businesses that didn’t.
If you do business in a finite geographical area, Google+ Local, now rechristened Google My Business is an online marketing tool your business should be taking advantage of. Google+ Local pages are displayed prominently in search results for searches containing local search terms. The more active you are on your page, and the more reviews you get, the more often you will appear in the search results. This will increase your visibility and credibility, and give you a leg up on competitors who are not active on Google+ Local.
On a Google+ Local Business Page you will find photos, videos, Zagat scores and summaries (Google bought the review service Zagat in September 2011), a description from the business owner, useful information like the business’ address, phone and hours of operation and of course, social recommendations by customers on Google+. The most important thing about Google+ Local Business Pages is that they are now indexed by Google and shown as pins on a map near the top of the search results for mobile and local searches.
Google+ Local is Google’s version of Yelp. It integrates business information from Google+ Pages with user reviews. All powered by Google+, all very much dependent on good information and geographic proximity to the user. Google+ Local provides a multitude of benefits for people and companies looking to promote their local business and helps better optimize their website for organic search.
20 percent of all computer search is local and 95 percent of mobile search is local. 80 percent of local searchers take action to contact or visit a business they find. Mobile search is booming. When people look for local businesses on their mobile devices, Google provides relevant results with reviews, photos, contact information, directions and a web site link. Small and medium businesses would do well to set up and manage their Google listing to ensure they get found for local searches and that searchers get the information they need, which will increase conversion.
Realizing and understanding how Google+ integration impacts all three facets of digital media (paid, owned and earned) is now more important than ever. Discussion around Google+ integration and resource allocation is not a new topic, but one that has been debated since Google+ launched in June 2011.
Google understands the value of localized search, especially when you consider the amount of people who actually buy local products and services as a result of online searches. There are many elements to consider when trying to rank better in Google+ Local, but here are some of the most important factors:
These are absolutely crucial if you want even a chance of ranking in Google+ Local. As a business owner expanding online, you have no doubt heard of search engine optimization (SEO). You need to use the same practices for your local online business, but with a few changes.
You need your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) prominently displayed on your website. These need be 100% consistent across all social networks and online directories. If they’re not, Google may get confused and think you have not one, but 2+ businesses online. That seriously hurts your chances of ranking online.
You are aware of the amazing potential of online reviews for your business. Yelp, Yahoo! Local, and even Google+ Local have become the go-to websites for reviewing businesses and getting quality information about local businesses online.
As a business owner you need to get on top of this as soon as possible. We’re not saying you need to create fake reviews, but you need to get your customers reviewing you on these platforms. The key here is QUALITY. Make sure you’re incentivizing your customers to give honest, helpful reviews of your business. Offer a free product for clients that review your product or service, or discounts on future purchases.
Encourage your customers to check in to your local business using Foursquare by giving them discounts when they log in. Foursquare is extremely popular and can also become a strong source of traffic for your site. Get creative and develop a compelling incentive for customers to write a review on your Google+ Local Page. Reviews will help the Google+ Local Pages ranking but more importantly they will boost its visibility on Google’s search engine results and give the business more credibility.
Citations are to local SEO what links are to SEO. Citations are listings of your NAP on different directories and websites online. These are worth their weight in gold for you and you need to make sure you’re constantly acquiring these as often as possible. There are many creative ways to get them, but the go-to strategy is to use online business directories and niche-related websites that you can reach out to personally.
Google+ Local Ranking Factors
Below is a list of the most important local ranking factors:
1. Physical address match from the searchers city
2. Relevant category
3. How close the address is to the center of searcher’s city
4. Authority of the Website based on inbound links
5. How many structured citations mention the business
6. Mention of the place in the title of the page
7. How many reviews in Google Plus Local
8. Authority of citations
9. Area code is local to the searchers city
10. Owner Verified Place page
11. Links from locally relevant domains
12. How many unstructured citations from sites like blogs or newspaper articles
13. Mention of the product or service in web reviews.
14. Target keyword in the URL
15. City mentioned in reviews to the website.
If we as advertisers and marketers are not fully taking advantage of the integration between Google+ and the other Google platforms, then we are missing out a valuable opportunity.
On June 3, 2014, Google released a feature worldwide that allows a business to transfer the “heart” of its local data (verification, reviews, Map pin, place) from a verified Local Page to an existing Brand Page. While Google+ Local, now “Google My Business”, is meant mostly for small businesses, all page owners have been upgraded to the new view. How do you think this will change your company’s Google+ strategy?