Many local small businesses and organizations need to work hard to maximize their search engine listings, and in an increasingly mobile world (think of all those smartphones and tablets!), a local presence for local businesses is that much more important. If a visitor in the neighborhood pulls out her smartphone to search for local frozen yogurt shops, and yours is right around the corner, will it show up in her search results?
Well, if you’re not already on Google Plus, you’re missing out.
Some of you may have had a Google Places listing, which was simply a way you could register your business details and show up on a map in Google search results. Well, Google Places has been folded into Google Plus, so a Google Plus page for your organization is crucial.
First things first. You need to set up your Google Plus page. That’s outside the scope of this article, but there are many places online where you can find tutorials and advice for setting up a Google account, which can be used to set up your personal Google Plus profile, which in turn can be used to set up your Google Plus business page (similar to how Facebook does it).
Google Plus Local
Now it’s time to set up Google Plus Local. Google has a few requirements to qualify for a Google Plus Local page, and with good reason. They want to be sure that you are indeed a local entity where people can come to your storefront or office to do business.
- Use a physical address. You can’t use a post office box or other similar service. It must be a physical address to add to their database.
- Use a local phone number. Avoid 800 numbers, and use one local to your area; this will help verify the locality of your business.
- You must conduct offline transactions. In other words, money must exchange hands between people, not just online.
With these set up, you now have a Google Plus Local page.
Improving your SEO
Of course, the purpose of using Google Plus Local is to improve your search engine results. You want people to be able to find you online so that they come and do business with you. Setting up your Google Plus Local business page is important, but now you can maximize its impact.
One of the most important things you need to do is be sure that your information is accurate and consistent across the web. For example, your business might be listed with Yelp, Chowhound, Merchant Circle, Superpages, or more. In each of those listings, it’s imperative that your business name, your physical address, and your phone number match. This includes making sure that if you use “LLC” or “Inc.” with your business name, it needs to be used everywhere. If you spell out “Road” in your address, don’t use “Rd.” elsewhere. You should also make sure that your website’s information is also accurate and identical. Consistency is key.
Why does Google care about this? Well, it’s simply a matter of verification. The more places Google can find your information—and see that it is identical—builds credibility for your listing. If information is scant about your business or it is inconsistent from one source to the next, this raises a red flag to Google that you may not be legitimate. So it’s important to take the time to get it right.
Obviously, this is only one part of the SEO puzzle, but nevertheless important for local businesses and organizations. Google Plus has so much else to offer businesses and can benefit your SEO in multiple ways. Stay tuned for future articles on SEO techniques, including social media, or search the archives for more SEO tips!