4 Ways to Go Local on Google+

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While Google+ is not the most popular site on the 'Net, when it comes to social networks, it is certainly one of the most important.

This is especially true for local businesses, because maintaining a profile on Google+ not only helps brands connect with customers, but also makes a brand more visible in the search results. In fact, in May, the search engine giant integrated Google Places into Google+, which allows consumers to find, share and review local businesses on the social network. However, in order to get the best ROI from your Google+ profile, you must first optimize it with a local state of mind.

1. Optimize the About Section

It is vital for Page managers to optimize the About section of Google+ Pages, because this is not only where important information is displayed, including business descriptions, hours of operation and contact information, but it also provides Google with specific information about your business. That being said, it is important to note that Google launched some new updates to the Local Business/Place Pages in Google+ this week, including an update that allows businesses to once again add categories to their Pages. By maintaining a correct address and category information, businesses will be much more likely to show up in the location-based search results on the Web, as well as the search results that appear when someone uses Google+’s “Local” tab to search for specific types of businesses near a specific location.

2.  Strive for Good Ratings and Reviews

Most consumers take reviews and ratings into strong consideration when making a purchasing decision, which is why it is important for local businesses to not only leave a good impression on their customers, but also encourage positive consumer feedback. And with the integration of Google Places into Google+, this is more important than ever. This is because Google now prominently displays the Zagat ratings and reviews for businesses both on Google+ and in the search engine’s result pages. In fact, when searching for businesses through the Local tab on Google+, users can even filter the results based on top reviewers or by reviews from people in their circles. This means that consumers who search for your business on the ’Net are also most likely reading a few reviews about your company, whether they want to or not, because the reviews are readily available. That being the case, a multitude of reviews can help businesses not only benefit in the search results, but can also help encourage conversions.

3. Start a Community

Google+ announced the availability of Communities at the end of 2012, which allows Google+ users to create social groups based on specific topic or interests. The best way that local businesses can take advantage of this feature is by creating a public Community to help them foster relationships with current and potential customers. In fact, brands can even further connect with their customers by creating Community Events or by participating in Hangout video chats within their Community members. Furthermore, chances are that content from public Google+ Communities could eventually make their way to the search results, especially since we all know how much Google likes to interconnect its services.

4. Participate in Google Offers

Although daily deals aren’t nearly as popular as they were a couple of years ago, it is safe to say that consumers still love a good deal – when they see it. This is why it is a good strategy for local businesses to launch a daily deal through the Google Offers platform. Not only does Google promote the offer through email and mobile apps, but the offers also show up in Google+'s Local tab search results (remember how we said Google likes to interconnect its services?).

              

Stay Tuned

It is safe to say that Google has more updates and tools in store that will make it easier for local businesses to reach and connect with consumers in the future. In fact, Google’s Places for Business website states that the company will be making a lot of changes over the next few months to improve the local listings experience and bring the community, identity, sharing and relationships of Google+ to local businesses. The best way for local businesses to prepare for the updates is to optimize their current profiles and continue to engage their customers.

:: Create a local presence wherever you want to do business. Get a local phone number. ::


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10 comments

PhilM 01-31-2013 2:53 AM

It might not be the largest social network true, but it is the second largest! Granted, Facebook has almost double the users of G+, but can we really write-off anything with the power of Google?

The local stuff is powerful, but it's power/usefulness only comes about when people people start using it - which seems to be happening now. Hopefully, as the local stuff gathers more momentum, small business will be able to embrace it, and help drive their online stategy.

ReeceC 01-31-2013 5:00 AM

I would love to get my business working on Google+, but despite spending hours creating my page, I cannot verify it due to a technical problem which Google seems totally unable (or unwilling) to fix! Whenever I try to "Verify my business" as they require, I just get the following message: "500. That’s an error. There was an error. Please try again later. That’s all we know."

There is a thread on their support forum, which has loads of people suffering the same issue and nothing seems to be done. Google states "When you verify your Google+ page, your business will be found across Google, including Search, Maps, and mobile", so this technical problem means my page is NOT being shown in results and is putting my business at a disadvantage. Google should not be putting Places in search results if they have a known technical problem that they cannot resolve!

PaulL 01-31-2013 8:41 AM

Google+ is poised to explode if you follow Guy Kawasaki (1.2M followers). Yes, if no one went to FB there would be no one there either. The trouble is perception and the idea that people are feeling overwhelmed with SM locations. Google+ has a much more versatile SM platform, if you take the time, you will find it is a better primary location.

My company helps businesses to correct their Google+ Local Page, and I am certified by Google as a photographer creating virtual tours like "streetview" inside of businesses. Verifying your local page should be easy. I usually get this done with a customer within a half hour. I have heard of businesses that have had difficulty on this and I am sorry to hear it was true for you. However it should be a very simple process. Verification is usually done by postcard (crazy, but true), or by phone call. The phone call method is quick, but once you select this radio button and click submit the call comes immediately, with a robo call giving a PIN #. You simply add that to the location requested on the Google+ Places page, now called +Local( same thing), and your page is live in a few days. Anyone who is having trouble with this can feel free to email me through my website www.greycloudstudio.com. If you live in any major city, I can also send someone to visit you directly, if you like. Hope that helps.

PaulL 01-31-2013 8:42 AM

Great article BTW. I will link it to my website.

Touch Point 01-31-2013 9:21 AM

I'm glad you showed a Google+ profile with a hyperlink in it, Allison.  This is something that every person and business should take advantage of.  You have the ability to add hyperlinks to your profile and create backlinks, so use them and use them wisely.  After all, it's a backlink from Google--can't beat that!

ReeceC 01-31-2013 10:42 AM

@Paul The only option presented to me is the postcard method, which I have used before when verifying my Places listing. However, clicking on the "Send postcard" button, just brings up this error page www.google.com/.../error. It's infuriating as any changes I make won't appear in Google until I verify the page, so I just go round in circles!

I created a new page and it wouldn't let me verify that either, so there is obviously a technical issue there, linked to my account perhaps?! :o/

The difference between Facebook and Google+ is that I have nearly always got a response from FB when there has been an issue, or I have been able to resolve it from the Help section. I set up my business Pages with the minimum of fuss and they work; with Google, there is no response, just a months old thread about it being a known issue that they are working on! In the meantime, my listings are not showing and as we know, everyone uses Google, so I am missing out on valuable business!

SaraJ 01-31-2013 9:14 PM

@ReeceC - verification has been a huge problem today. It's been happening to a lot of people, and unfortunately, Google's support forums haven't been much help. You're not the only one, and I doubt the technical glitch is related specifically to your account ... hopefully, the problem will be fixed soon. And yes, they eliminated the phone verification option several weeks ago. We're all stuck with the postcard method it seems.

YahliE 02-01-2013 8:48 PM

Excellent article on effective online marketing, i can't wait to start sharing this with my clients.  

Donna Duncan 02-02-2013 9:17 PM

Good post Allison.

Just want to add to what you said about optimizing your listing. As TouchPoint said, make sure to add in a link back to your website. Don't forget to categorize your business. If you can, pick two categories, one broad and the other narrow - restaurant and pizza shop is a good example. Also make sure you complete your entire profile, and add photos. Both have been shown to increase click-thru rates.

Sorry to hear the phone verification has gone away again!

yeu sinh ly 01-21-2014 12:59 AM

G+ always give me what is new and exciting, bringing the value of g+ is indisputable, I really like g+

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