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.

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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.

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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!