If you haven’t yet claimed or created your Google+ Local business page, you may be missing out on a lot of potential business.
Uniquely situated to give Yelp a serious run for the money — if not drive them into obsolescence, Google+ Local combines a local business listing directory with a customer review platform with a mapping application, for a triple threat that no other marketing enterprise can even come close to matching.
When Google Maps first came on the scene in 2005, the new mapping platform blew MapQuest out of the water with the depth and magnitude of the project. Google Maps provides street maps, drive times and street views of places all around the world — even Mount Everest, and leverages Google’s search capabilities to help customers discover nearby local businesses.
Google Maps developers soon discovered the value of crowd sourcing, allowing businesses to create and manage their own business pages, and Google Places was developed to allow them to do just that. Then in 2012, Google Places was integrated with Google+ Local and a star was born — actually, a star rating system was added along with customer reviews, and Google officially threw down the gauntlet, challenging Yelp’s reign as the top online review site for local businesses.
One Place for Everything
Not only can customers search for local businesses on Google maps, review their business page in Google+ Local and then get driving directions, but the Google Places dashboard also provides one-stop convenience for local business owners as well. On the Google Plus dashboard, business owners can manage their location information, track traffic and even create and manage an ad campaign.
Customers who sign up for a Google+ account can also:
- Publish reviews and photos of favorite locations
- Get place recommendations based on location, past reviews and circle of friends
- View local Google+ pages of businesses, including reviews, photos, posts, etc.
- Read Zagat summaries of user reviews for a location
- Find reviews from people they know and trust highlighted in search results
Get Your Custom Google+ URL
Business owners can also request a custom Google+ URL. It only takes a minute or two, and makes it easier to share the page with clients, vendors and prospective customers. Much as you might ask customers to “like us on Facebook,” “follow us on Twitter” or “find us on Yelp,” you can encourage clients to provide reviews on Google+ Local and provide the URL to get them there.
Keep Your Content Fresh
It’s not simply enough to claim or create a business page on Google+ Local, however. Increasingly, Google+ Local pages are being given priority in Google local searches, ahead of websites and other listings. And since Google’s web-bots look for fresh, relevant content, it’s recommended to treat a Google+ Local page as more of a dynamic, newsy kind of site rather than a static business directory listing. Savvy business owners make sure to regularly post enticing images, fun content, new ideas and product and service updates that engage customers and make them want to visit the location. Be sure to respond promptly to any reviews and encourage clients to rate the service they received. It will help your search visibility.
Track Results on the Google Dashboard
The Google Places dashboard is a powerful tool that allows business owners to track the success of a Google+ Local business page. It can also tie into Google Analytics to provide a wealth of information, including the number of visitors who find a page through Google search. And Google Insights provides helpful information about followers to help business owners engage with them in a meaningful manner.
In a nutshell, local business owners need local traffic, and what drives local traffic better than arguably the most powerful and popular mapping application on the market? Combine that with strong local search results and favorable customer reviews and you have a recipe for success that wins the prize every time. Of course, Google+ Local simply provides the platform; it’s up the business owner to come up with prize-winning substance.