For years, listing and optimizing a business on Google Places has been a staple of search marketing. But recently, Google decided to replace Google Places with Google+ Local. For local businesses, this is good news and just-plain news.
- The good news is, Google+ Local will be more robust than Places, giving local firms more ways to generate leads, foot traffic, etc.
- The just-plain news is, firms without a Google+ page need to quickly set one up and claim their Local listings.
Google+ is Google’s new social media network. Google has been busy integrating its other services (e.g., Picassa and Gmail) into Google+, so this latest move comes as no surprise to industry insiders.
However, many local businesses are not yet familiar with Google+ and its growing importance to search marketing in general and SEO in particular. Companies with an active presence on the network will be given favorable positioning in search engine results pages (SERPs), and a well optimized Local+ listing will only improve visibility further.
Quick Links for Setting Up Your Google+ Local Listing
- To start creating a Google+ page for your business, click here.
- To claim your local listing, click here.
- For more detailed instructions and FAQs, click here.
The setup process is pretty intuitive. Once your business is set up, it’s helpful to post new content on Google+ and share it publicly, as well as add Google+ community buttons to your website and Google +1 share buttons to your blog posts. (My recent post on SocialMouths outlines best practices for displaying social sharing buttons.)
Google+ Local Features
Google+ Local is more visual than Places, and is being structured to encourage Google+ users to review businesses and share them with others. Here is a Local page for a nearby restaurant:
Note the integration of Zagat reviews, Google Maps, the Google +1 button, and the overall visual appeal. If I do a regular search on Google for “oak brook restaurants”, I can bring up this restaurant’s Local page right and see basically the same thing:
Google+ Local Benefits
It’s important to remember that the transition from Places to Local is in its infancy, having been announced only about two weeks ago. But already, we can see that a strong Local page gives businesses an opportunity to make a great impression on users, both within the Google+ network (first screen shot) and on regular Google search (second screen shot).
The concept of “regular Google search” is changing as well. Today, searchers have the option of turning on “personalized” search, which displays results that relate to a searcher’s browsing history and links that are endorsed or written by people in their social networks — particularly by people in their Google+ networks.
As Google+ Local evolves, it’s very likely that companies with a strong Local page and active Google+ social network presence will enjoy higher visibility and more online endorsements than competitors that ignore Local or go through the motions. Today, however, the most important thing is simply to get started.
(Image Credit: © Christos Georghiou – Fotolia.com)