A study published by the ad agency Chitika earlier in October of 2012 had found that over 24% of all Google search queries carried out have local intent. Yahoo and Bing users were slightly higher bringing the average of the 3 major search engines to just over 26%. With 1/4th of all searches on the “Big 3” having local intent, the internet is a marketing space local businesses should learn to leverage. If done correctly, a Google Plus Business Page can yield increased local visibility in your targeted areas.
Just creating the page is not enough though, there are several factors that need to be considered and optimized in order to be successful. They breakdown into 3 basic categories:
- Google Plus Profile
- The Business’s Website
- 3rd Party Local Listings (Angie’s List, Yelp, ect)
Google Plus Profile
Begin by creating a new listing or claim an existing listing online. Once verified, optimize your business profile to make sure all information is accurate and up to date. Having consistent naming, address, and phone (NAP) conventions across multiple all online channels strengthens the implied geographic signal to Google.
When defining your categories, pick as many relevant choices from the provided list as you can. If using custom category, test the search in Google to see if it generates local results. If it does not yield any results then the category may need to be reconsidered, and retested. Moreover, whenever creating a listing ensure all information you provide adheres to Google Local Quality Guidelines.
The goal of any profile page is to obtain user flow, which is then refocused at the parent site. To retain user flow, make your profile engaging and unique Images, videos, offers, and coupons are all ways of engaging your local audience. Additionally, ensure your profile is complete by filling out the “details” section including any natural, relevant keywords.
The Business’s Website
The website linked to the Google Plus Business Page plays an important role in the Google Plus listing’s overall rankings for local searches. If your full focus is on local search traffic, take advantage of several opportunities on your site to improve your Google Plus page’s listing rank.
- Include the City, State and Zip Code in the Google Plus landing page title
- Ensure your sites NAP matches your Google Plus page NAP
- Include geographic, product or service keywords in the Google Plus landing page URL.
- Include City, State and Zip code in Websites Page Titles and Meta Descriptions as well as the Header Structure.
- Take advantage of Rich Snippets, like Authorship, Organizations or Reviews. While they may not have a direct effect on rank, they make your listings more robust and engaging, which leads to higher Click-Through Rates.
All of these adjustments improve your sites local signals to Google, leading to increased local listings rank.
3rd Party Local Business Listings
The key to leveraging the strength from other local business listings is consistency, specifically involving your businesses’ NAP. One of the highest ranking factors related to Google Places listings is consistency in NAP across all of your businesses online listings. If you have the time, claim and update all of your businesses listings ASAP. However, if you’re like most small business owners I know, there is simply no time to take care of all of this manually. There are several services like Yext and Localeze that can help automate the process for you, allowing you to update local listing information across all web profiles from one simple submission. Both are strong tools, but I personally favor Yext. Although more expensive, it offers a much more robust selection of profile fields that can be updated.
The most important take away here is to remember that consistency is the key to having a successful local listing on Google and no matter the size of your business or area in which you serve, Google Plus Business is a profile you will benefit from. For more information on how to better optimize your online presence for local search contact Webimax today!
Just yesterday, Google made a pretty significant announcement of which every business owner should take note. In an attempt to further combine its social media efforts with its focus on independently-owned companies, Google has integrated its Google Places program into Google+ Local. While the benefits of this consolidation many not be immediately apparent to everyone, the potential this move has for small business owners is considerable to say the least.
According to a quote from an article on Search Engine Watch, Google’s Vice President of Product Management cites the appeal of the mobile user market as being the primary incentive behind the change. By bringing Google Places program directly into the company’s social media platform, smartphone and tablet owners will encounter business listings more frequently when they use the Google+ app or browse the network via browser. Google claims that this will allow companies that have registered on Google+ to significantly improve their level of engagement with mobile users.
An announcement video released yesterday also emphasizes a new feature that those companies listed on Google’s social network will certainly appreciate – user reviews with scores. Businesses on Google+ can now receive reviews from customers by way of Zagat, in addition to written comments. This official scoring system allows potential clientele to look up a business’ rating and help make purchasing decisions. Combined with the fairly decent amount of traffic that Google+ sees these days, customer interaction levels for companies on the network will rise significantly as a result.
Using Google+ to its Fullest Potential
Regular readers of my blog will certainly see what all this adds up to. Although Google+ doesn’t boast anywhere near as many active users as Facebook or Twitter does, the features being offered to companies going into the network are quite attractive. As Google+ users can now easily interact with and review any business previously found on Google Places, company owners need to redouble their efforts on the social media site. The following are just a few ways that businesses can improve their Google+ listings:
- Fill out as much information about your company as possible. According to an entry on Google’s blog, companies that were previously listed on Google Places should edit the details of their business through the old Places portal. This information will be immediately reflected on the Google+ listing as well and will help customers learn more about you and your business.
- Upload beautiful and eye-catching images. Google has been touting its network’s emphasis on large images and sleek presentation as being a big deal for businesses. Company owners should use high-end digital cameras or hire a photographer to produce original photos for their social media page.
- Encourage customers to review your business on Google+. People loved being asked for their opinions, and channeling those efforts through the newly revamped Google+ Local program means having a place to show both praise and criticism.
Of course, the SEO experts at WebiMax will be periodically checking in on Google+ Local to see how the new program fares. As always, I can be reached at email@example.com should readers have any questions.
Those business owners who turn to social media sites for customer traffic are known to rely just a little too heavily on Facebook. Sure, the world’s biggest social network continues to expand its influence, and it’s a given that it will grow towards a projected one billion users by year’s end. While there’s certainly no lack of potential customers to be found on Facebook, there is the matter of market saturation. For every type of business out there, there are literally thousands of competitors with which to contend. Small business owners who try to maintain a strong presence in social media have to work much harder when rivals are involved.
While there will always be stiff competition when building up a follower base on any social network, sometimes it’s best to focus one’s attention elsewhere. Many company owners make the mistake of putting all their eggs in one basket when it comes to social media. Even if they manage to establish themselves on Facebook, they’re still missing out on other social media markets. In particular, it’s Google+ that goes untouched by many businesses these days.
Growth, Slow but Steady
Although Google+ doesn’t have the staggering user numbers that Facebook boasts, that doesn’t mean it’s a ghost town (as some would have us think). For the past several months, Google has been working tirelessly to connect its social media site to every aspect of its network. As a result, every new Google account has its own Google+ profile already attached to it.
While only a small percentage of newly registered users remain active on Google+, more people are joining the network as time goes on. The integration of YouTube, Google Maps and other Google services into the social network is enough of a motivator to get people to begin using the site. The company reports that over half of the 170 million registered Google+ accounts see constant activity. Getting one’s company established with social media optimization on the network now will allow for a lot of groundwork to be laid out in the future. Small business owners also won’t have to worry nearly as much about competitors stealing followers.
Taking Advantage of the New Redesign
Only a few days ago, a number of new features and a revised interface were rolled out for Google+. Google claims that the newest update makes its social media site sleeker, more intuitive and more flexible to members of other social media sites. While much of the redesign mirrors Facebook’s recent Timeline layout update, that doesn’t diminish the potential for the network to attract new users. Business owners may want to take advantage of the new site design in a number of ways.
- Create a Google+ account and fill it out thoroughly. The more information that can be provided the better off you will be. A complete profile gives plenty of information to users and, since Google pulls information from Google+ for its SERPs, will allow you to show up better in searches.
- Find plenty of photos and video clips to share on your Google+ feed. The redesigned page layout now allows users to post larger images when sharing media. Attractive and colorful photos can get users in your extended network to interact with your company more often.
- Direct your website’s traffic to your Google+ account. If you haven’t already placed media sharing buttons throughout your site, now is the time to do so. Encourage users to share your content on their Google+ pages. By building up a sizeable number of supporters, shared content will reach more users more easily.
As always, I encourage our readers to look more into professional social media optimization and social PPC services when trying to get the best results out of their social media campaign. WebiMax takes a great deal of pride in providing its clients with efficient social media management that excels at gathering new followers for both short and long-term high conversion rates.
Some people, outside of the online industry, shun particular gadgets and platforms, whether it’s due to a technologically-inept understanding or a refusal to partake, to keep “private” matters private. One can unabashedly share information (information ultimately available to whom?) or try to maintain a modicum of privacy in an age where people use the Internet as a canvas to illustrate everyday thoughts, emotions, plans, actions, etc.
While some of us within the search engine optimization industry are feasting thoughts on Google Chrome, SOPA and Google+, maybe we need to think about something more general regarding online participation, our privacy as citizens.
Digital Due Process, a conglomerate of tech firms, privacy gurus, and advocacy alliances, wants to steer ours and the attention of the government back to 1986, when the Electronic Communications Act was first instituted. It seems the conglomerate has secured the attention of some in Congress, yet remains dissatisfied with the “hands off” approach from law enforcement agencies.
What’s your level of concern? Maybe you haven’t really thought about how much “footage” you potentially supply on a daily basis to interested “viewers.” Warrants are warranted to tap your phone and search your house. What about your electronic possessions, thoughts, and sentiments? Are they protected too?
In the latest release from the Mission Impossible movie series. Some really cool gadgets and technologies were featured, one allowing a centralized location to track the exact whereabouts of a cell-phone owner. An ivy-league source, credited in above-mentioned article, explains such notions are more fact than Hollywood fiction.
In addition to cell phone usage, what about online documents, emails, and other virtual content? Google reported over 6,000 US government requests for such varieties of info in the first half of 2011 alone. That wasn’t the first time an outside source demanded user information. A similar situation happened with Verizon and law enforcement some time ago.
You may be surprised to find how outdated your sense of privacy is. According to representatives in the Digital Due Process camp, in most of the US, an agent armed with a subpoena but no judge-signed document can demand your online content.
The advocacy group wants to strengthen peoples’ depth of protection to include online documents, tracking data, routing data from cell phones, and records of calls. In addition, the group wants to protect the privacy of browsers who breach a particular Web page. The group hopes to influence domestic laws rather than those influencing national or international security.
As referenced above, the problem is outdated laws; our technology has outpaced our privacy. For instance, the 1986 law stipulates privacy is protected regarding emails in “transit” and maintain protection up to 180 days, but not after. It may be time for a revision, considering we’ve raised the Web to be the behemoth it is today from its modest beginnings.
Can the Digital Due Process endeavors help us catch up to our privacy? There is some resistance, explains Jim Dempsey, vice president of for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology and Digital Due Process leader: “[The Justice Department] has been quietly opposing any changes.”
Do you think Facebook and Google+ would befriend one another on social sites? Google does a lot of things well; its search engine and paid ad platform are obvious examples. Google has enjoyed a lot of popularity and exposure in this century. Do you need to look something up online? Google it; Wait, (“Google” it?) isn’t Google the brand name of the provided search engine, how did we make it into a verb? Google’s savvy marketing is one reason.
Popular kids sometimes don’t like sharing the playground. In this century, another brand has gained popularity, attracting some playground popularity away from “G,” actually eclipsing Google in visitations in 2010, Facebook. Some cohorts may play nice while others would get a little green with envy. If the Google brand did harbor such latter sentiments, maybe it would do something to one-up or “plus one” the competition. Wouldn’t it?
According to stats recently released, Google+ has 62 million registered users. A far cry from the 800 million plus using Facebook, but give the new kid on the social block some time to gain traction (a quarter of Google+’s numbers come from December alone). Research predicts Google+ stretching itself to a plus size in the near future (some expect G’s social network to break 75 million by mid January).
Right now, Facebook obviously rules as king of the social site playground, but power comes in numbers. What is a social site’s biggest asset? A site’s participants. As the number of people using Google+ rises, the platform gets more exposure and becomes more useful to consumers, marketers, and brands.
Some tantalizing aspects of Google+
Brand pages are now included in search results. Twitter and Facebook eventually began to cater more toward businesses, offering company-related interface pages and social paid ad opportunities. Brand pages give companies a reason to take part in Google’s social platform.
Authors and individuals like Google+ too, especially considering the influence of the rel=author tags. As a blogger, small businessperson, and company representative, one could leverage Google+ and related SERP results to gain more personal and brand-related exposure.
In addition, Google+ gives us more “cowbell” regarding SERP exposure; circles and +1s are visible in the SERPs giving users more opportunities for online exposure.
Ace in the Pocket
In Napoleon Dynamite, Napoleon’s Jagger-like moves became the ace, securing popularity, ultimately winning Pedro’s class presidency campaign. What’s Google’s “ace” regarding its social faceoff with Facebook? As an industry blogger predicts, it’s going to be Google+’s ability to fuse search, social, and visibility aspects together. Usage of the Google+ platform will be encouraged as good online practice, giving Google+ a huge edge over the competition.
Right now, Facebook is clearly the biggest, most popular kid on the social playground, but while Google+’s numbers are not of a Goliath stature, G is no David. I think we all will see some savvy modifications done to Google+ in 2012. In addition, I think we’ll see the masterminds behind Google making a stronger push for social site domination, making Facebook lose a little face in the process.
I recently posted a “SEO 2011 Year in Review” article on Search Engine Journal, which sited many of the exciting algorithmn updates this past year as well as other items supporting the proclomation of Mobile and Social being key SEO performance mediums this year.
This becomes ever increasingly verified with the latest 10 algorithm updates direct from Googles official blog. So whats important for search moving forward? Direct from Google:
- Rich Snippets – especially e-tailers pushing product data – this has been a huge help on BING and now we are told increasing support for Google)
- Freshness – Serving up the latest content to meet user queries is adjusted to support short span News sites vs. long life span niche articles and e-com sites
- Refinement of “official” page detection – This is a clear movement toward what we have been hinting at all year; the ever increasing “brand” rank. Watch for Brand Optimization in 2012
So, mobile, local and social will continue to drive forward into next year. Googles entry into Business Pages for Google+ (see WebiMax Google Page) is rather limited and soft as a launch. At the time of this article we have seen two additional updates to Google+ Pages features and different interpretations of Google+ badges, buttons, circles and support.
Checkout/Wallet will really make some heavy movement this upcoming year along with search-less search. With all of these movements we are consistently seeing possitive movement on organic SEO efforts with foundational efforts (On-Site tech, Off-Site links/content and social engagement), so continue with your digital strategies but look to introduce schema.org and HTML5 support – now is that time.