Moving.. Places to Plus for Local Business

Guna Nadar

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Google+ Local can be a great tool for SMB’s to leverage their business prospects. But the system is a little ‘all over the place’ and can be overwhelming to make sense to a newbie.


We all know by now that Google localizes its search results when queries indicate local intent. There’s some heavy statistics to show that a fairly large number of people search for local business information online. 2012-13 is probably the year for local at Google with many updates geared to target people searching for local information.

Some of them include;

•    Last year, Google Places was merged with Google+ Local.  If you look closely at your G+ page, there’s a small ‘local’ tab on the left. This page lets users search for places, get directions, post reviews and pictures of these places.

•    Acquired Zagat, the restaurant review publisher. Zagat has a unique 30 point scoring system that is based on user inputs. These reviews are now integrated into the G+ Local system.

•    Small Businesses now get to promote their business on the Google+ Business Page. Thus, users get to visit a company’s business page, check their reviews, look at the pictures posted…et al.

•    The Reviews feature is moved up the ladder with a separate tab on a G+ user’s home page. Thus, you get to see all reviews of places (that you may have done) under a single tab.

Google Places (Previous)

Google + Places (Now)

 


Yea, but how do you leverage these changes to improve your local business?

With Google+ Local, Google’s trying to tie social with local.

For those of you who’re thinking Google+ is just a ghost town… dream on! It is not something that’s going to be abandoned anytime soon.  And right now, they’re desperately trying to get more people to use Google+ through businesses, reviews, photos, etc. etc.
If you are an SMB, you can’t afford to lose focus on Google+ Local as it’s definitely tied to your organic local search results. 

In fact, the G+ Local search results are displayed right below the organic local search results. Ideally, local small businesses would be spending money on expensive CPC ads to attract potential customers. And if you’ve ever tried to run a CPC campaign, I’m sure you agree that local keywords (say, North Brunswick Plumber, Burley Idaho Movers and Packers) are far more expensive that general keywords. As you know CPC’s become so complicated that there’s an entire industry revolving around this service. And at the end of it all, you can’t be sure that all your clicks convert into customers (only an abysmal 3% of ads are clicked by users)

With a simple and ongoing local business SEO strategy, businesses can substantially curtail their CPC spending.  But there’s a catch here. Your G+ Local ranks more or less depend on your effort to make the page valuable and informative. This includes adding your business on Google Maps, providing complete information (URL, Name, Address, ‘Local’ Phone Number), posting pictures and videos, encouraging reviews (not soliciting, but encouraging), listing on local directories, GPS activation, updating on Google+ …and so on and so forth.

There are billions of small and medium businesses, but why have only a few thousands bothered to build a Google+ Local Profile?
They’re only doing it at their own peril! One reason, why a lot of people haven’t warmed up to Google+ is that right now, it’s a little messy and needs patience to understand. But the system is evolving and a lot of updates are on the cards. What you can do, however is get a specialist to do the job for you.

SMBs also get to target the smart phone based search market. GPS enabled smart phones are surely going to rule future search dynamics. With your Google+ Local rankings in place, you can leverage this market even without an optimized website, or perhaps even WITHOUT a website (okay, that may be an exaggeration, but not impossible)!  Businesses who’re not claiming their listings are actually running a risk of a competitor doing so. He may present incorrect or misleading information causing you to lose valuable traffic.

But how do I claim my Google+ Local listing?
Simple! On the Google+ Local home page, enter the name of your business. On the right hand corner, there’s a small message that says ‘IS THIS YOUR BUSINESS?’ Click on the ‘Manage this page’ tab. You will need to verify through a PIN sent via phone call or SMS verification.

A few things to remember:
It’s easy to claim your Google+ Local listing, but it’s difficult to get first page rankings. Make sure that you pay attention to the following points.
•    Maintain consistent UNAP information. (URL, Name, Address, Phone number)
•    Do not solicit reviews for Google guidelines do not encourage this.
•    Mention your physical address on your website
•    Include as much as information as possible, including opening hours, offers, etc.
•    Add content regularly to your Google+ updates

Will write to you soon with My favorite list of local business directories for 2013

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Category :

SEO News

Tags :

local SEO

About Guna Nadar

Guna Nadar

Brief Info about Guna Nadar +

I mostly write technical aspects and not much into creative writing. For the past decade I worked along with top notch SEO & Internet Marketing professionals which naturally lured me into the world of Search Engines. When I am not writing I read from comics to philosophy.Antiques, Fishing, hunting are my passions. Currently I am working on Google Penalty protection and .... more info


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