The Internet has drastically changed the way people seek out local goods, services and businesses. Almost everyone goes to the web first on their desktop, laptop, or (more likely) their smartphone or tablet. Over 80% of Internet searches are for local businesses so you need to attract the people that are searching locally for the goods and services that you offer.
The people who are searching the web for your products or services are not merely surfing; they are ready to buy – and over 80% of all Internet searches are followed by a phone call or store visit!
And now, 30% of consumer searches include a city, state or zip code. Placing your company’s information in the local business listings of major search engines will direct potential customers to your business.
At the center of local search is Google+ (plus).
Enjoying an overwhelming response when they launched in June of 2011, Google+ had to shut down to handle the demand. By the close of its first year, Google+ had 90 million users – now they brag of 400 million+ active users. Forrester Research compared its popularity to Twitter and said every business should be on it. Such claims are often questioned, as the New York Times once pronounced it a ghost town, with Forbes even suggesting that it was dead.
Pretty much everyone has mistakenly been thinking of Google+ as a social media tool – when it doesn’t have the same purpose as Twitter, Facebook, etc. On the surface it may resemble a social network as you can “befriend” and “follow” other people and businesses. However, its benefit is not as a social media tool, but rather as the premiere local search vehicle!
Google+ is rooted in local search. Local search is complicated process, as it needs to support both Google Places and Google+ Local. Then there’s the Google Local Carousel, an image- and photo-driven knowledge graph, with Google+ as its biggest ranking driver. With some direction, guidance, and a plan in hand local search success can be enjoyed.
There’s much going on within local search and there are numerous aspects to consider. Let’s look at the role of Google+.
You can make the most of Google+ Local following these four actions:
1) Create a Google+ Business account and verify ownership. To get started with Google+ Local, you first create a Google+ Business account. Then you’ll need to claim your listing or create a new one, and verify that you’re the owner. Verification involves receiving a four digit PIN and entering it in your account dashboard. You receive a PIN in one of two ways:
- By phone (an automated call from Google)
- By postcard (yes, they use snail mail)
After your business account has been verified, you can start enhancing your Google+ Brand page content and creating Google+ Local Pages. Remember, your Business Page is tied to your brand. Google+ Local Pages displays the address, hours of operations and contact information.
2) Create Google+ Local Pages for each of your locations. Once your page is verified, you essentially create a Local Page by listing the important contact details for your business. Go to “Contact Information” on the “About Page,” and provide your business details (name, address, phone number, URL, description, etc.). You can also include a Services/Product description and provide keywords linked back to your website. Your Google+ Local Page is a key piece for local search.
Google recently introduced Google My Business, a single interface to update both Google Places and Google+ information, which will update search and maps listings.
3) Enhance the content on your Google+ Brand Page. You can share content with customers on your Business Page. You can add a custom cover photo, create posts, add photos and even videos. After 30 days, verification and 10+ followers, you can get a custom Google+ URL. You get a keyword-based URL, but Google determines what it is.
4) Use analytics reports to understand performance and improve over time. As part of your Google+ dashboard, you can see Insights on your Brand and Local Pages for the past 30+ days. This shows page views, clicks, new followers, actions on posts, etc. With at least 200 followers, you get a traffic demographics breakdown. Such insight will help you determine what type of content was the most successful and can help direct your future content marketing efforts.
Google + content gets indexed.
Search engine indexing collects, analyzes, and stores information (data) to enable fast and accurate retrieval to match consumer Internet search queries. In other words, indexing is designed to locate web pages on the Internet. The Google engines understandably crawl Google+ pages searching and storing data.
Google loves video content.
Google gives preferred indexing to video content. And, with the new Google Maps Business View, businesses now have the ability to provide the enhanced video opportunities of interactive 360 degree panoramic tours and videos – which they can post to their +page, website, and social pages, as well as share those video links with prospects.
With Google Maps Business View, customers can now virtually walk right through your front door (or entryway) and see your entire space on Google Maps! Such panoramic video tours invite potential customers in as they search for your business. Tour videos help relieve customer uncertainty.
My Closing Thoughts…
Using Google+ Local will enhance your online presence, engage current customers, and attract new customers.
The Everbearing team can help you capture your share of local customers searching for your products or services on the Internet. We will get your company listed on Google+ Local and other local business directories and optimize your listings to give you a greater web presence, generating more customers for your company.
Use the area below to share your Local Search challenges or successes!
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/calsidyrose/4925267732/”>Calsidyrose</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>