Harness the Power of Google Plus Local for Better Business
Back in the good ol’ days of just plain ol’ websites, the general idea revolved around having a portal where most small companies could be easily found. Competition wasn’t as fierce, and all you did was create a website, let your friends and acquaintances know, and traffic would eventually come flooding through the front door.
Over the years, as the internet became synonymous with day to day business, the rise of search engines helped customers locate the best business for their needs, through websites.
In any conversation where you mention search engines, it is rare that Google goes unheard of. In recent years, Google has really expanded its role to help people search for just the right businesses in order to satisfy their needs.
Let’s talk a bit about what Google Plus Local means for your business.
A Brief Trip Down Memory Lane
Back in 2005, Google Maps practically changed the world. Even though Mapquest had been around for a good few years before that, it nowhere resembled the magnitude or depth Google Maps boasted. Be it travel times, street maps or views of different countries and cities, Maps would easily help you find the nearest shopping mall, library, hospital or well-known restaurants.
As the program gained momentum, Google soon realized that instead of managing individual pages of business owners, it would be a much more viable option to let the owners do it themselves. Eventually this activity was crowd-sourced into Google Places (now known as Google My Business).
The Google Places dashboard was designed to help business owners manage their location, create ad campaigns, and track traffic.
In May 2012, Google Places officially became a part of Google Plus Local. This meant people could interact with your business and review your page on Google+ and easily find your place of business.
Since that change, Google’s model is now more about displaying local business GPL listings on their search engine, as opposed to previously displaying business websites only.
Get the Most Out of Google Plus Local
As a business owner, you really should be taking advantage of what Google Plus Local has to offer. Outlined below are the steps required to set up an account, which generally takes less than five minutes.
1. Sign up or sign in with Google Plus Local for business. Next, go to Google and key in a search for your business. If you own a well-known business such as a retail outlet or restaurant, chances are your business location is on Google.
If you can’t find it, you can get your Google Plus Local page here.
2. Now you need to claim your business. Assuming your business is there on Google Plus, you’ll need to claim it. Log into your Google+ account, the one you want associated with the Google+ Local page.
In Google+, look up your business in the search field. You will need to create your business here if it does not exist. If it exists, you must verify you’re the manager/owner of that business.
The screen below asks you to verify your business by phone number or postal address:
That’s it. If you are going with option no. 2, you need to give Google at least a week or two for delivery:
How to Manage Your GPL Account
As soon as you have access to your Google Plus Local account, you need to take these steps in the same order:
1. Update and add the relevant information to your Google Plus Local page as needed. Use an attractive but professional cover photo that gives prospects a fair idea of what your business is about.
Hours of operation, website URL, basic bio, phone number and address is all relevant business information.
2. Get a customer Google+ URL – this will make it more convenient to share your page with clients, vendors and prospects alike. It hardly takes a minute or so and is worth the effort, particularly if your URL is going to be on any form of print media.
3. Start posting on your page – Keep prospects and clients in the loop as far as fun ideas, images and relevant topics are concerned. Compelling content on your Google+ page is essential as it allows people to get a feel for your business and relate to it one way or another.
Another reason to update content is to attract additional traffic. Google loves good keyword-worthy content, so pay special attention to keywords as well. This is what an effective branding strategy is all about.
4. Reach out to current as well as past clients. Ask them to leave a few reviews. Ask every new customer to leave you a review on Google+. Over time, quality reviews of your business will play a prominent role. However, you need to keep the following in mind:
- Do not lose heart; every ten people you’re going to ask, most likely one or two will agree.
- Don’t ask everyone visiting your page to leave a 5-star review.
- Under any circumstances, do not bribe clients to get more reviews or business, unless you’re okay with getting the boot from Google. It’s also illegal.
- Don’t push for too many reviews; that does not automatically mean better Google placement.
5. Use the Google Plus Local dash to keep a check on your progress. The dash ties in with Google Analytics and tells you how many visitors you have via Google search. All of this concrete data tells you everything you need to know about your followers, so you can better engage them.
6. Should you advertise? To fully break into the market and keep up with competition, advertising on Google is highly recommended. However, some financial professionals and solicitors will tell you, and it is a known fact, that Google Advertising can get very expensive – as high as $120 per click. It can get difficult for small businesses to keep up with that pricing level. So we’ll let you be the judge.
Through Google Plus Local, you can get more traffic driven to your location-based business. Bypass GPL into your marketing regimen, and you may get little Google traffic.
Stay consistent while regularly updating your page with text and images. Continue pushing for positive client reviews but don’t overdo it. Coupled with SEO and PPCs, you can greatly boost leads and conversions.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Drop us a comment or two below and don’t hesitate to get in touch with our mobile marketing and app development team.