What is Google+ Local?
Google Plus Local, the successor of Google Places for business, is a free-of-cost online platform provided by Google. It serves a couple of purposes: firstly, it helps business owners expand their online presence and helps people discover, interact with and review the businesses in their vicinity.
It is, essentially, the most accessible and comprehensive business listing ever to exist. But that’s not all it is though – it has both social and interactive aspects to it.
G+ local pages are an essential local SEO strategy component for those businesses which cater to the needs of customers in their immediate i.e. local area, for instance, builders, couriers, salons, accountants, gyms, dentists, driving schools, recruitment agencies, photographers, electricians, restaurants, caterers, garages, solicitors, plumbers and estate agents.
Any time when someone uses something related to Google, and searches for anything that Google deems to have local intent, e.g. ‘electricians Adelaide’, or ‘restaurants in Sydney’, the results will include links to Google business listings, typically seven of them, listed from A to G.
Here’s why these listings in Google are so valuable:
- They are present above the regular search results.
- The address and phone number of your business will be displayed.
- A map containing the direct link to your business is present.
- The reviews people leave for your business are directly linked.
When someone clicks through to your G+ local page, they’ll see the following things:
- The name, phone number and address of your business.
- Your business’s description.
- Your business’s location on a map.
- The opening hours of your business.
- A link to the website of your business.
- Related photos/videos for your business.
- Reviews left by past customers.
- A score out of 30 for your business (depends on how your business was rated by past customers).
Why Google+ Local?
Here’s some reasons why Google plus is essential for your business strategy:
- G+ isn’t meant for limited, fleeting 140 character tweets, or for meeting up with people i.e. Facebook. What sets it apart is that G+ has the promotional backing of the biggest technology platform on earth. In other words, having an account for Google Plus for Businesses means that you’re going to be prioritised by Google.
- It grew exponentially within its first year and a half, and made a name for itself as the second largest social network on the planet. You can be a part of this experience by adding your business to the comprehensive and reliable free business listings which make up G+ Local. Remember how no-one was initially sure about Twitter and its usefulness, but now every brand ever seems to be using it?
- Since all that you post on G+ is rapidly indexed by Google, you’re positively impacting the search engine results. This is extremely important for businesses and companies since their websites appearing on the first page of the search results, particularly on the first few positions, get about 54.8% of all user clicks, as per a study by Optify.
- Since becoming a part of Google Plus means having lots of resources at your disposal – Communities, Hangouts, Google, YouTube, Gmail, not to mention the fact that you’re able to add business to Google Maps, among other things – you’re able to leverage each of these resources individually to augment and optimize your business marketing strategy to take your brand to the next level.
- The +1 button lets people establish a trend, aside from the synthetic algorithms used for ranking websites. Hubspot analysed over five thousand sites and revealed that those with the +1 button get over three and a half times more visits on G+.
- It is possible to add authorship to your content. Put simply, authorship will place your profile picture next to your content in Google’s search results. This lets you enhance your status and become trusted among users, which affects the amount of traffic, clicks and visit volume you get.
- Your brand will be able to be a part of various communities (not possible with other social networks). In other words, you don’t have to patiently wait for users to come across your page, rather, your brand can connect with people globally. You can easily connect to prospective customers by linking with them through relevant groups. This is just one way of how G+ Local is much, much more than a conventional free business advertising platform.
- G+ Local is an excellent resource for linking with customers and audiences in a novel way which costs absolutely nothing. Hangouts on Air (HOA) are a great way to get closer with your customers via live debates, demos and e-conferences (these are automatically uploaded to YouTube!). You can broadcast yourself on any number of topics, no matter how trivial, if you see them beneficial for your business. These broadcasts can be watched live, as well as later on.
How to set up your Google+ Local Business page
- Visit the following link to start making your Google Local business account:
- Select ‘Storefront’ if your business has a physical location, ‘Service Area’ if you cater to customers at their homes. If your business has multiple locations, you’ll observe a link at the end of the page that says ‘Google My Business Locations.’ This will let you add more than one business locations.
- Search for your business on Google Maps.
- Google accumulates data from 3rd parties, so the business may already be indexed, even though you haven’t set up its G+ page. Even if your business is present in the listings, it is crucial to set up your G+ page. If you can find your business in the Google business listing, click on it and go to step 7. If you can’t, follow through with step 5 and step 6.
- If you are unable to see your business in the results from the fourth step, click on ‘None of these match’.
- Submit your business details. You’ll have to be patient for a couple of weeks or so, after which you’ll get a postcard in mail. You’ll use this postcard to verify your business.
- You can verify your business by phone. Click on ‘Call me now’, answer the phone and type in the code you have been provided.
- Congratulations! You are now the owner of a verified Google local business centre.
How to merge an existing Google+ page with Google+ Local
Before proceeding, let’s clarify that it isn’t really ‘merging’. Once you complete the process, only the local attributes i.e. verification, reviews and Map connectivity, are transferred from your G+ page to your G+ local page.
Particular things like circles, followers, posts and customer URLs are not carried over. Therefore, you should think of it as a way of upgrading your G + local page with local attributes, rather than as an actual ‘merge’.
Many businesses that have an existing G+ business page will wish to combine it with their new G+ local page. They use the former for social sharing and for appearing in organic search results, while the latter is used for appearing on Google Maps searches and accommodating reviews.
Such a business, when they log into their G+ account, will see two properties in the Manage Pages section. One will be the verified local page, and the other their main G+ page.
Here’s how they can bring these two pages together:
- To start the merge, log into your G+ account, go to Pages and navigate to your local page (ensure that you go to the page with the verification tick). Click on Manage this page.
- Choose settings and go down to ‘Link a different page to this location’, and now choose your Google+ business page which you want to link to Google Maps.
- You will now see confirmation dialog box. Click on ‘Next’ and you’ll see another confirmation which will detail the changes that will occur due to the ‘merge’.
- You will now see a message on your screen that confirms that the pages are being connected.
- Once the ‘merge’ is successful, you will prompted by a yellow dialog box to delete the old page which will now be called, and labelled, as a ‘Backup’.
- Now your Google+ Brand Page will have the verified local badge (i.e. tick).
- You will now be able to see your combined Brand page and a backup of your old local page.
- You may have to wait for a while before this newly ‘merged’ brand page begins to show in search results. Until such time that this page has gathered traction, it is recommended that you keep your backup page intact.
How do I make my Google+ Local page look good?
Having created / verified your G+ Local page, it is now time to personalise it. You can make it a shop window for your business by using an appropriate header image. To aid your targeted customers in finding you, type in a summary of your establishment in the ‘story’ part of your profile. Make sure that you include your email address, links to other sites your business is on, and your phone number. In addition to this, change the profile photo to something that represents your business – a logo will do great here.
Use the following general guide to select the correct Google plus header dimensions and Google+ profile picture size:
- The profile photo is the small, circular picture near the upper left corner of the profile.
- A bigger profile photo will look great, but the smallest size you can use is 250 x 250.
- Also known as the cover photo, this is the large picture which will appear at your profile’s top. It is recommended to pick a size of 1080 x 608 pixels, but you can go as large or as small as 2120 x 1192 pixels or 480 x 270 pixels respectively.
- Your header should contain the address of your business website, the logo/brand name with a tagline.
- A background image which is relevant to your business. Keep it simple since the cover photo won’t display in its entirety on all devices.
- While creating the header photo, you should put the text closer to its top and leave around 250 bottom pixels free of text since the profile picture will take up this space when the profile is viewed on a mobile device.
Refer to the included PSD file if you want a template for Google plus cover dimensions.
If you don’t want the hassle or aren’t into Photoshop then please be sure to contact us and we will be happy to help.
How to use your Google+ Local page
Here are some tips on how to run a G+ local page successfully:
- If you’re thinking of re-branding your business while making the jump to G+ local, think of a clever name for your business. This will make you stand out in the searches and will also be a factor in driving targeted clients to your website. A witty name will have a positive first impact on your customers.
- Think about including a ‘descriptor’ to the name of your business. It may carry certain risks and you’re limited in what you can use. A 1-3 word long descriptor helps searchers in picking your business’s website from their search results without having to open your site or G+ page. However, a descriptor that indicates what your business is about will be a two edged sword – it will attract potential customers, but it will also repel traffic for which your page is not useful.
- Create a great looking header photo. A stock photo just won’t do if you really want to bring in customers. Don’t make it too flash, a meaningful, attractive, possibly understated photo will do great for a local business.
- Put in one or two links to sub-pages of your website in the description. Combine different formatting styles like paragraphs and bullets. Don’t overdo it though, making it too long will push the website reviews down the page. Also avoid stuffing in keywords – they won’t help your ranking, and there’s a good chance that they will get your page penalised.