Last updated on September 4th, 2012 at 12:10 pm
If Google Places has been your de-facto method of driving online customers to your brick-and-mortar business, big changes are on the way. Google is importing Google Places into Google + Local, and this means big changes for businesses and consumers who use the internet to find local establishments. This post is all about Google Plus Local Optimization.
Webmaster’s Note: This entry is a guest post by Charles Dearing
Google+ Local will continue to provide existing reviews, but the way consumers see results will be indexed and ranked, so business owners must take advantage of using SEO (search engine optimization) if they want to rank highly enough for potential customers to see their business.
What’s in it for My Business?
Google’s complex algorithms consider many factors when ranking sites. The more web presence and reviews your company has, the better it will fare. When consumers look for a business in their local area, Google is happy to provide the information. When it can provide a great deal of usable information to the customer, Google is even happier. Google+ Local works on Smartphones as well – enhancing the user experience when they are on the road and looking for your business.
Enhance your SEO
Most businesses that have been around for a year or two already exist in Google’s database listings, including Google Places, and will remain in a list of millions of results when users search for the solution to what they’re seeking. Most of them (some estimates are as high as 85%) will choose a business that they found on the first page of Google’s results. By optimizing your listing with SEO, it’s possible to reach a sizable portion of online consumers and grow your market share in the process.
Moving Google Places content into Google+ Local
If you already have Google Places optimized for your business, then that is a good start as you can now move your content over to Google+ Local. A great place to start is this Google+ Support Page. Here you will be instructed how to log in or sign up for a Google+ account if you don’t have one and how to move content over to Google+ Local. This is all good and well if you are prominent amongst your competition in Google Places. If you are not, then you will have to adopt some current SEO best practices that could make all the difference. Some of your competitors may have not applied any of these changes yet so getting in early can get you one up on them.
How to Optimize Google+ Local in Replacement for Google Places
Applying SEO techniques always starts with using the right keywords. Use the Google Adwords keyword tool to identify ‘search terms’ users are most likely to type in when looking for businesses like yours. For instance, you can quickly evaluate whether a searcher is more likely to look for “realtors in Kansas City,” “real estate agent for Kansas City,” or “Remax in Kansas City” so you can use Keyword Targeting most effectively.
Once you’ve identified one or two important key phrases, use them prominently in your website’s title, tags, and meta description for a more descriptive search result snippet.
Use YouTube Videos with Keywords
You can also use the keywords you have identified in other sites that link back to your business. Create and upload a video to YouTube. It doesn’t have to be a polished or sophisticated video – you can use your cell phone to create a video that shows your storefront and takes the customer inside to see highlights of your business operating. Use your keyphrase again in the title, tags, and description of your video. (You can include your website as part of your description for even better effect.)
Other Social Media Sites, Enhance your SEO
Similarly, upload photos related to your business onto your website, Flickr, Photobucket, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Add captions that contain your keyphrase or keywords, and tag them with it whenever possible.
Keep Things Fresh
Keep your website updated with new information, promotions, and photos on a regular basis. Use secondary, well-researched SEO phrases to invite the kind of traffic that translates into flesh-and-blood customers for your business. Google as well as other search engines goes out to frequently index a website that churns out fresh content and is constantly updating.
Google+ Local is designed with social networking in mind, merging it with traditional indexing methods. SEO allows consumers to target themselves as your audience. Following these simple steps to maximize the types of information your target customers can find in the search engine results page, you’ll discover ready, willing, and able customers because your company will be one of the first with a Google+ Local result they can find.