local search with Google+

We have touched on Google+, its worth, applicability, and where it will likely go in the future a good amount lately, and most recently in a blog post by JWersits. Google+ is firmly carving out its own dimension within social media and will not likely look like the archetypal social media platform that we’ve come accustomed to seeing (not that one true standard exists, but a site that allows users to share and engage with each other in the basic ways that Facebook and others offer). With that said, it will most-likely continue to grow and increase its relevance for personal users and businesses alike, especially given its relevance for Google Search Plus Your World results.

Now, it is becoming increasingly clear businesses that get in early with Google+ can achieve substantial immediate gains, but more importantly, test out their marketing strategy on the platform and have it in place and humming when (more likely than if) the platform really takes hold. This approach takes the form of a pilot program. As such, Google+ has SEO worth in and of itself, but potential gains greatly increase when considering that Google+ does not usually stand alone but is worked into a larger, more comprehensive marketing strategy that includes SEO and ppc management. Large brands have already seen a great rise in the number of followers they have, but optimizing Google+ content focusing efforts on local may prove the most beneficial. A great piece from Search Engine Watch discusses how brands can strategize their pilot programs to get the most of their early actions on Google+.

Two of the most important factors are optimizing with locally relevant content and supplying fresh content (that followers actually want). First, we’re talking about localized action so content on the Google + page needs to be optimized with proper geographic terms and product/service/industry keywords according to SEO principles used for Title Tags, Description Tags, and other Meta Tags.

Secondly, it’s not enough to have a presence on Google+; the account needs to be active, and consistently active at that. Sections where posts occur and engagement is achieved cannot lay dormant. One way to learn what company followers want in terms of content is to simply engage them and…ask. Often overlooked, this kind of transparent dialogue is welcomed. Engage followers through promotional surveys and interactive polls that give the company a better idea of the content its customers would enjoy and share with their connections. Additionally, it is essential to localize the post and make them relevant to customers in that specific area. They are more likely to pass the information on when that relevance and value is achieved.

JWesists touches on the issue of having realistic timelines in his post (referenced above) and the value in Google+ if companies just give it time. Businesses can put themselves in a highly advantageous position if they do take a long-term perspective on Google+. They can put in the time and effort now on the front-end and grow with the platform, consistently adapting their SEO and marketing strategies. Companies that operate internationally have even greater potential gains to strive for. Employing international SEO within Google+ to gain exposure in new markets around the world allows customers to test out marketing messages and approaches based on cultural considerations. This can then inform how they engage their customer-base in these places off-line as well. Employing such a pilot approach will ultimately enable businesses to achieve positive gains in the short-term but also give them tools and know-how (specific to their company, customer-base, industry, and market) that will prove invaluable when Google+ likely becomes a necessity and others are rushing to gain a presence at that point and learn how to leverage it.

I found myself traveling this week.  Wanting to maintain appearances for my dear mother, I strolled into a local, haircut chain establishment.  Coincidentally, my “stylist” was the owner, a man who bought into the franchise.  As one must divulge personal matters to hair stylists, I mentioned my interest in all things online marketing and inquired about his stores’ efforts.  By the end of the ordeal, I was looking fresh and ready for a “Yelping in my Beemer” video as well as filled with a few thoughts regarding online marketing and tailored, consulting services.  As many marketers but few clients understand, online, one size does not fit all.

I Want That! Wait. Do I Want That?

The evolution of the Web has granted us with a multitude of ways to market online: search engine optimization, social media optimization, reputation management, public relations, and then some.  What stops or starts a small business owner from desiring a championed service?  An experienced consultant helps.  The business owner confessed being in a state of confusion, expressing the difficulty of understanding options at hand and making distinctions between them to make the best choices for his business.

I empathize with online marketing novices; information can seem conflicting.  Let’s use social media participation as an example.  A short while ago, marketing information regarding where consumers get local business information, was released to the public, reflecting poor social media leverage.  I blogged about it, urging small businesses not get discouraged by the numbers.  This week, other data was released regarding how consumers interact with brands on social sites.  This set of data would certainly inspire my interest in social media as a small business owner.  If you’re an owner, how do you interpret the somewhat conflicting sentiments of data to make decisions for your brand?  An experienced consultant helps.

How Does it Fit?

Online marketing practitioners make suggestions and implementations for clients, yet the latter group is crucial in tailoring a campaign’s success.  While practitioners place focus on understanding the Web, marketing world, and associated tools and trends, clients are most insightful regarding idiosyncrasies aligned to respective industries; consultants can offer advice and suggestions, but clients can help matters by offering their own insight.

For instance, I suggested the hair chain owner use Twitter to spread exposure.  Since he was part of a chain, a brand-named account was out of the question, yet he mentioned his revenue’s high dependency on repeat customers.  Immediately, I asked if his individual stylists had social accounts.  He had no idea.  I suggested his stylists all get accounts and start engaging new and repeat customers on Twitter; since repeat business is so crucial, ensuring customers are viewed as individuals and receive customized treatment is essential.  He liked the idea and said he would make motions to put that into effect next week.  If he didn’t give me that crucial element of information about the importance of repeat customers, my ability to help him would have been limited.  Don’t forget to let your vendor know how your campaign fits and don’t be hesitant to make your own suggestions regarding a custom-fitted campaign.