Improve Your Local Search With Google Plus Local

Posted by Brooke Hazelgrove

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Mapping out your social reach starts with Google Plus LocalWe don’t make the rules of online marketing and that’s probably a good thing. Sometimes it can be strange, or frustrating to try and work to the ever-changing rules of the folks who do, but it’s no less important that we keep an eye on how to best be found by our searching customers.

Since a massive market share of online searches are conducted through Google, it’s well worth looking at this lesser-known but highly valuable reason why their social media platform - Google Plus - is a powerful agent in getting your business found in local search.

Basic Influence

The first thing that’s worth noting is that Google favours businesses and websites that have their own presence on Google Plus. It’s of no surprise, given that Google dictates who is ranked where on their search results, but it should definitely challenge how we think about using this social media platform.

So how should we think about our presence on social media? As mentioned in previous articles social media is a great way to meet ideal customers where they’re at, and reach out to them with incredibly useful and engaging content. It’s also a great way to spread your content around, since sharing that handy how-to can be done with the click of a button.

But what should we look at doing when that social media platform starts to influence how we rank in the search engine results page? Well, we should probably get on board with it, and learn how to use Google Plus better to help with being found on a local scale.

Thinking Local

The unique connection that a Google Plus account can have with getting your website found on a local search is connected to Google Maps, and Google Plus Local. Think for a minute of how you’d search for local businesses to solve a problem - aren’t you likely to use a search string like ‘plumbers [local area]’?

This is what that kind of a search will crop up:

location_of_plumbers_in_charlestown

Here, we’re given a list of options for plumbers who are near us here in Charlestown, along with a few interesting tidbits in the list of suggested plumbers. Some of them also have their opening hours listed on the result, along with whether the business had been reviewed. It’s no coincidence that the first result that Google suggests for me also has the most supplementary statistics, boasting a variety of reviews along with the opening hours.

Do you want this for your business? To be the first that shows up, with the most reasons possible for a searching buyer to click on?

To (literally) put your business on the map for a searching customer, you first want to look at getting Google Plus Local.

This is where we pause to make note of some distinguishing factors, because things are about to get very confusing otherwise.

Local Businesses

Google has two types of Google Plus page that can be associated with your business. You may have one, or both, or neither of these pages, depending on a few different things.

The first of those pages is Google Plus Local, which I’ve already mentioned. Your G+Local page is created using Google Maps. If you want your business to appear in a local search, you’ll need a Google Plus Local page.

The second of these is the Google Plus Business page, which is created using Google Plus.

If your business turns up on Google Maps when you run a local search, then a G+Local page exists for your business. You may not have created it, but it will nevertheless exist. We’ll talk about what you can do with that in a minute.

Fortunately, a G+Business is a little easier to be aware of. This is the business page you create through Google Plus. It doesn’t have to be associated with a G+Local page to exist (although this is also something we’ll address).

Now, it is entirely possible to have both of these pages as separate entities. You can have a G+Local and a G+Business page. It is, of course, better for your SEO and page management if you just have one, but there it is. The two are not the same thing.

If you have just one of these pages, you can use it to build the other. (Ideally, it’s easier to start with a G+Local page and then build G+Business into it.) You can also merge the two if you have both as separate things, which is arduous, but possible.

Seek An Association With Google Maps

It then follows that you don’t need to start building your business’ Google Plus page by visiting Google Plus. The first thing you actually want to do is check Google Maps to see if your business has a G+Local page.

Since Google and the Yellow Pages have in the past worked together, it’s highly likely your business and its location are listed on Google Maps (especially if your business has been around for a while). If this is the case, there may already be an (unclaimed) Google Plus Local page listed for your business.

Should a G+Local page already exist for your business, you should be able to claim it and take control of the page, connecting it with your existing website.

So you can see what this looks like in action, I found a local business’ G+Local listing on Google Maps that hasn’t been linked in with their website or G+Business page for this:

unverified_google_plus_local_place

If your business is listed on Google Maps, you have the opportunity to link your business with this page that Maps has created, and to take control of it, populating it with relevant information and engaging content to draw in your ideal, searching customers.

If you’ve searched for your business and nothing has turned up on Google Maps, it means you can create a G+Local page from the get-go. You’d do this by typing in the physical location of your business, and then selecting the ‘add a missing business’ option.

For example:

create_google_plus_local_page

As an added bonus, you can see in this image the locations of other businesses in the area which have already established G+Local pages.

Why You Need To Build Your G+Business Page On Your G+Local Page

The reasoning here is surprisingly similar to how your business’ physical location was likely built - there needs to be a progression from the physical location of your business to your online presence.

Well, that’s the reason that makes the most sense. In reality, it’s a lot easier to connect and build your Google Plus Business page from your Google Plus Local page than it is to do it the other way around. Because your G+Local page is connected to Google Maps, having it as the basis for your G+Business page and connected to your website will give a solid boost to your local search results. The whole process does have a lot of moving parts, but with Google calling the shots, it’s in your business’ best interest to work with what you’ve got.

So if you can, start with your G+Local page, connect it to your business, and your personal Google Plus account. Then you’ll have one page with your G+Business and G+Local information on it.

To help you see the kind of advantage that a connected G+Business and G+Local page has to offer, have a look at this:

google_plus_local_business_verified_pages

In both of these G+Business pages, the name and website of the business is displayed, and has been verified by Google, as evidenced by the shield with a tick on it.

The difference between the two then is that our business, whose G+Business page has been linked to our G+Local, also has listed our opening hours, contact number, and physical location, all of which is connected to Google Maps for the local searcher.

What Results Can We Expect?

When your business harnesses its location on Google Maps and is able to associate it with your social media accounts and website, it allows searchers to become aware of your physical existence, as well as your digital presence. In addition, you’ll enjoy a tremendous SEO boost on local search. This is because Google has more information to give the local searcher, and it will have been verified by both Google and your business. Not only this, but the more information you are able to supply to the locally-searching buyer, the more likely they are to check you out. The reasons for this are somewhat circular - a buyer who searches mostly online will naturally gravitate towards businesses that have invested into their online presence, because they’re aware that their buyers search online, and on it goes.

By integrating your G+Local and G+Business pages into a single page, you are not only giving yourself a social media platform to branch out from, but you’re also tying all of your content to a real-world location. This makes you more than ‘just some online marketer’ - it gives Google and your searchers more reasons to trust and visit you.

The Wrap-Up

  • Local search has the propensity to lead to more conversions and sales, especially for a business that is based on a physical location.

  • Google displays a bias toward businesses that have a Google Plus Local page for local searches.

  • When you connect your Google Plus Business website to your Google Plus Local page, you’ll be able to rank higher on local searches related to your field, and will show up on the maps of searching buyers.

  • To connect your business’s G+Business and G+Local pages, check your business location on Google Maps first to see whether your business has already been listed. If you’ve not yet connected your business to Google Plus Local, there will be a handy G+Local page waiting for you to connect to and build a G+Business page on top of

  • If possible, you want to build your business’ Plus pages in this way, rather than by building the G+Business first and then connecting it to the G+Local page. If you’ve already got separate pages built, or a G+Business page, it’ll take a little more effort to connect the two.

  • By connecting your business’ website with Google Plus and Google Maps, you extend your visibility and reach to searching customers, and greatly increase your odds of drawing in and closing buyers whose needs you fit perfectly.

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