As many of you already know Google Places has been “converted” to Google + Local. With the move to + Local, business owners seem to be confused with what’s changing and what they need to fix or optimize to get their listing back on track. Note: For the rest of this post I will refer to Google Places as Google + Local.
So what does this mean for the business owner? Well nothing really, if you have a verified Google Places page it is automatically moved into Google + Local. If you haven’t created a Places page you still go to Google Places and create a listing (it creates the listing in + Local). Also if you have an already verified listing disregard the “Manage this page” button; we have spoken directly to Google and the button should be removed in the near future.
What do you have to fix or optimize on your listing? When dealing with Google + we often get asked questions like “Can we optimize my listing for blank geo?” or “How can I rank first for a competitors location?” The answer to these and almost any other related question is “no, of course not.” Google places is not a competition, it’s a tool used to help users find the closest most relevant business for the center of their geo search term. With that said, there are some things you can do to help boost your local listing position, and give your Google + Local page a better chance of being clicked on.
Completeness & Accuracy
With this change to Google + Local your business has a great opportunity to get ahead of the game. When creating a Google + local listing it’s very important to fill out every piece of information you can. There are plenty of fields that are optional or may not seem necessary, but do not ignore these details. Google wants to give their users the most relevant results with the best information and so should you. The more information you offer the better, so do not neglect these fields. Take the time to write a great description, put your companies email and website into your listing. Basically give the user all the information they’ll need right there so they can make an informed decision right away.
Google + Local offers a more engaging experience for your business’s listing. Take advantage by displaying amazing pictures and videos. Have a small business downtown? Show parking and provide your customers with answers to questions they hadn’t even thought of yet. The better the quality of your listing, the more “trust” you build with your costumer.
Additionally, accuracy is very important, your hours, brands carried etc. should be homogenous. Trust is extremely important and any discrepancies in information negatively affects your business and brand.
The world of marketing is changing; the old strategy of building brand trust or awareness was simple. Hire a famous celebrity, have them endorse and promote the product, the masses buy the product because they trust the celebrity. That is old school; today it’s all about the users. Customer reviews are the engine that drives brand trust and new customer engagement.
Encourage reviews and make the link to your customer review page easy to access. Respond to ALL reviews; if you get a good comment let the customer know how much you appreciate their business. Get a bad review? Try to fix the problem, offer a refund or ensure them you will do whatever it takes to make correct the mistake made. Engage your customers and they will become loyal to your business. I cannot stress how important a great review is for your business. Note: remember that offering incentives for reviews is against Google’s Review Policies so make sure you’re following the rules.
With+ Local there is not much area to SEO, but be sure to take the little opportunities you have to push your brand and keywords. You don’t want to look like a spammer, only use your keywords in the “business name” field, if that is in fact your business name. However, you do have the chance to place your most important keywords ORGANICALLY in your description. You don’t want to have your + Local listing removed for spammy content. So make sure everything you write is created for your visitors not search engines.
We cannot stress enough to avoid misspelled words, erroneous address, and if you have two businesses under the same address you cannot have two listings. We suggest you create one + Local and place information of both brands under one page.
Our advice is to treat your + Local like any other project your business needs to tackle. Focus on quality, relevance, and great user experience and the rest will follow. Keep up to date on Google + Local as they make changes, you should make changes that’ll keep you ahead of the game. Sign up for their blog.