With such a large proportion (97%) of consumers searching online for businesses in their local area, Google+ Local’s power as an online marketing technique certainly shouldn’t be ignored by any local business. It offers the chance to get information about your company online for free, but most importantly allows visibility of these details to highly relevant users.
If utilised properly, Google+ Local provides a great opportunity for local searchers to find your business sat right near the top of Google’s search results pages. Once a local search is carried out by a consumer they will generally be presented with Google+ Local listings at the top of the results page, mixed with organic results underneath these.
Alternatively, the Google Local carousel may be displayed at the very top of the page, allowing users to scroll through relevant local business listings to their search.
The local market in your area of business can really be competed in effectively and even dominated in online search results if you take full advantage of Google+ Local. In order to help your business reach its full potential in local search, we’ve compiled some useful advice that should assist you in making the most out of the platform.
Google will look more favourably on those businesses that have a 100% complete profile, that is, they have provided all the information asked for by Google in the set-up of their business profile. It will show you your completion percentage, and if anything less than 100% should be addressed. This not only gives potential customers as much information as possible, but allows Google to present your business more easily to relevant searchers. An example of these details is your company’s opening or working hours. This allows Google to display your listing if a search is submitted during the specified hours; they know you’re available to provide your services to those who need it. By leaving this information out, you may miss out on the chance to be found by consumers.
Consistency of your contact details such as name, address and phone number is important online. By making sure this information is displayed accurately and in the same format across all your listings online and your website, Google+ Local will easily identify and display your details correctly and in the most effective way. Inconsistent contact details can lead to the automatic generation of listings that may not be as accurate or effective as the information you provided.
For example, an address containing the word “Street” on your website should not then be shortened to “St.” on your Google+ Local profile, or indeed anywhere else. Likewise, the phone number used should be consistent throughout, written in the same format. It is advised to use structured data like Schema where possible on your website, with all your contact details included in a footer on every page.
Google has removed the option to create custom categories for your business, leaving you with a list of categories to choose from. You are able to select up to 10 of these so it is advised to take advantage of this in order to build a detailed and relevant listing. Make sure you choose the most appropriate categories for your business, selecting all those that are applicable to your services.
Reviews on your listing are seen in a positive light by search engines and consumers alike, not only helping to achieve better search rankings, but offering a greater insight into your business and building trust amongst customers. Studies have shown that online reviews are read before deciding on a local business to approach or make use of. You may know that you provide a great service to your customers, but this is not visible in search results unless you gather reviews from those happy clients. It is recommended to ask your customers to post a review if possible, giving specific details on the service they were provided or products they purchased. These reviews will then be looked at by Google in relation to your listed services, and appear relevant to anyone searching for those keywords and services. Make sure only to include authentic reviews that you have sourced legitimately. If you are caught out seeking fake reviews from relatives or friends you will be penalised by Google with lower search rankings or even have your listing suspended and therefore no visibility to potential customers.
Use a Google Local Map on Your Website If you have a website in addition to your Google+ Local page, you can simply include a Google Local map on the contact page of the site. This will help Google+ Local to make the connection between your local business listing and your business website. To ensure you are adding your Google Local Listing Map, not just a Google Map, simply search for your business in Google Maps. Once found you will have the option to click on a “Link” button, which will display the HTML code, you can then copy and paste this into your contact page on your website.
Local search has the potential to create many new and suitable business leads or customers. By taking the time to complete a Google+ Local profile correctly, you are opening up great opportunities in getting your business found online by relevant audiences at appropriate times, promoting your business, and connecting with and building trust amongst consumers.