In late July last year Google released an unnamed but fairly significant update to their local search algorithm. A major authority in the search industry, Search Engine Land, coined this update: Pigeon. You may have heard of it. This update was geared towards local business and local search queries in an attempt to provide better results of queries with local intent. Having a Google+ page is now essential for your local business and will often show up in the results along with your website. This Google+ Local Business Page Optimization guide will show you how to take full advantage of Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) for your local business.
Completely Fill Out Your Business Information Section
Google provides seven different areas for you to supply information about your local business including your business name. For the different sections you want to try and provide as much relevant information as you can. Below are all of the sections, and how to best use them.
This one is the easiest. Just put in your business’ name. It should be your exact DBA (doing business as) name. Previously Google allowed cities and neighborhoods to be present in your business name but have since reversed this stance. If your city, neighborhood or state is an actual part of your DBA, then it is not against their guidelines to use it.
This helps Google know where you are so that your business is shown in the correct area. If you are a business with a physical location or storefront you will want to verify your address with a postcard sent by Google or with a phone call pin verification process.
For mobile businesses like some roofers or plumbers (etc.) who conduct business on location, you must provide your home address to Google. Once you have done that, you can hide it by telling Google you are a Service Area Business. This will still show you in the search results around your location, but keep your home address private.
Add your contact information including your phone number, website and email address. Google allows you to add multiple phone numbers and email addresses if you want, but as a local business you should at the very least have a local phone number. If you do business nationally or even internationally, you would want to provide your toll free number as well.
Google uses this section to classify your business and it can have a huge impact on your local rankings. If you are using a category that doesn’t reflect your business, Google will not want to show your business in the search results because the category is inconsistent with your business services.
You can do some research on the categories for Google+ local business pages over at Moz. Type in your services and it will show what categories are available on Google. Google allows one primary category and several others. Pick your main and most important service as your primary category and try and add as many other relevant ones as you can.
Add your business hours which can show up in the Knowledge Graph. On some searches Google will show whether or not your business is open or closed. Google allows quite a bit of variation in store hours, just make sure it’s accurate so prospects and customers know when to visit or contact you.
Maps & Search photos
Upload photos that show your business including the inside and outside of the business. These will show up alongside your business information in Google search results. Pictures have been shown to have higher click through rates from search users. These don’t need to be professional photos, most smartphones have acceptable quality cameras. If you don’t already have professional photos and can’t afford to hire someone, follow these tips and take your own.
Finally we get to the introduction. This introduces your business and services to search users and potential customers. You’ll find it in the about section of your Google+ page under your business information. Google allows you to do some formatting with the information as well, so try to avoid one big block of text. Add bullet points, bold text and even hyperlinks. Link back to your service pages when appropriate. If done well, your intro section can significantly boost your Google+ business page search rank. Our clients have seen a noticeable difference with an optimized introduction with links to their website and clear, relevant, and focused descriptions.
Claim Your Google+ URL
When you first get your Google+ local business page you will notice a long-unintelligible URL with a lot of numbers. This can and should be changed. To claim your Google+ URL, make sure your page meets these criteria:
- Have 10 or more followers (people who have added your page to their circles)
- Your account is at least 30 days old
- Your page has a profile photo
- Your account is in good standing (duplicate pages or pages that have received negative feedback will not be eligible)
Once these criteria have been met, you can claim your custom Google+ URL and use it on your website and advertising mediums.
Connect Your YouTube Channel
Do you have a YouTube channel? If you upload videos for your consumers or as part of your marketing campaign you should connect your channel to your Google+ page. Those videos will then show up in a YouTube on your page. Like with images, videos have been shown to have higher user engagement leading to more sales; check out this video to learn more.
Correspond and Reach Out to Your Followers
Add local businesses to your circles and comment on their posts. Start a conversation in your local community. Do you have a blog? Add your new posts to your page, just make sure to mix it up with other content as well. Has a customer added you to their circles? Add them to your circles and engage with them. Encourage them to add a review.
Share Reviews With Your Followers
Did a customer leave a quality review about your products or services? Share it to the rest of your followers.
Don’t spam them with all of your reviews as this might cause them to stop following you, but every once in a while send out a new quality review. To avoid being viewed as “boastful”, try to make it about your customer, not you or your business.
With these tips your Google+ Local business page should start taking shape and becoming a social presence for your business online. Along with other tactics in the local search space, this should help your business start to show in the local map results.
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