Harnessing the Power of Google+ Local for Small Business
Google remains ever-pervasive in the lives of people worldwide, and often that is felt most strongly among businesses. Since the introduction of Google+, however, many small business owners have ignored it, favoring to continue focusing on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, but that’s proving to be a pitfall.
What is Google+ Local?
While business owners may have some concept of Google+, they’re less likely to be fully informed about Google+ Local and its associated benefits, when compared to other social media platforms.
Google+ Local, also known as Google Places, is a free platform created by the search engine powerhouse. Aside from being a social media platform, it’s also, in the simplest terms, the world’s largest online business directory.
Google+ Local provides local businesses in any industry the opportunity to be discovered by their targeted customers, based on location.
Google users are directed to Google+ Local listings when they search for anything that Google deems to be localized. For example—“San Diego dentists” or “Orlando clothing stores.”
Why Your Business Can’t Afford to Ignore Google+ Local
Countless research has shown the importance of online searches for consumers looking to connect with area businesses. 20 percent of web searches are localized in nature, and that number jumps significantly to 40 percent for searches done on mobile devices. With statistics like that, failing to recognize the importance of local searches can be extremely detrimental to any business.
If a business is involved in Google+ Local, it provides more opportunity to be positioned on the coveted first page of a local Google search, thereby increasing visibility and accessibility to a businesses’ targeted customer base.
Another reason Google+ Local involvement is important? Google uses a complicated algorithm to rank pages in search engine results, and claiming and optimizing your Local page can help you rank not only in local and geo-specific searches, but also in generalized Google searches.
Google+ offers small and local businesses the opportunity to get ahead of the competition in another big way—it helps build trust and credibility among potential customers. The majority of consumers report looking to the Internet as a primary source of decision-making information about a business. With Google+ Local, potential customers can find reviews and rankings from real customers, meaning a huge impact on their decision-making process.
Making the Most of Google+ Plus Local
Taking advantage of the benefits of Google+ for local business isn’t just about claiming your businesses’ page.
A few ways to optimize a Google+ Local page include:
Ensuring the page is complete. Many business owners have pages that lack information, and this isn’t as advantageous as having a page that’s complete. Completing the page fully and adding of relevant photos and videos is the best way to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Google+ Local.
Focus on reviews and rankings. Most businesses have few, if any, and the more positive reviews, the better. Encourage customers to complete reviews by sending emails, including a reminder on invoices or receipts, or reminding them in-store.
Choose keywords carefully. Do research to find keywords that are relative to your business to use in the completion of your profile, and incorporate them naturally, to avoid appearing “spammy.”
Google+ may be a newer contender in the world of social media, but it’s on track to experience huge growth, and many industry experts anticipate it will overtake Twitter’s number two spot in the near future. That means now is a great time to get on-board to take advantage of the upward momentum as a small business owner.
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