If you operate a local business, it is absolutely essential to have a Google+ Local listing (formerly Google Places).A� People are turning to Google to find local establishments.A� If your business isna��t among one of the first that is found on the page, it can result in missed business opportunities.A� Searchers typically only pay attention to the search results that are found above the fold, and for local search Google displays Google+ Local listings first.A� Even if your site has been optimized for local search and youa��ve built some great links, organic listings are typically found below the Google+ Local listings.A� Ita��s obviously still important to achieve a high organic ranking for your website, but ita��s also necessary to do as much as you can to get your Google+ Local profile to rank prominently.
Here are some steps to improve the visibility of your Google+ Local profile:
1.A� Claim the listing
Even though a Google+ Local listing is free and can improve your search visibility by leaps and bounds, many businesses dona��t take the time to claim their listing.A� Ita��s important to claim the listing so that Google knows that the information is accurate and being provided legitimately.A� Once the listing is claimed it will need to be verified either by phone or through the mail with a verification code.A� The verification process can take up to 2-3 weeks.
2.A� Fill out every part of the profile
Preference is given to the Google+ Local profiles that include the most information.A� Fill in every field and provide as much information as possible, just as you would with your website.A� Google+ Local profiles are integrated into Google+, where the visual component of a page is important.A� Be sure to add photos of your business to make the page stand out.A� Select the most relevant categories for the page to be listed in and make sure that the information provided on a Google+ Local page is consistent with the information provided across your other online channels.
3.A� Optimize the listing
Ita��s important to think about SEO when creating any content on the web, not just on your website.A� Include keywords and keyword phrases in the business description naturally.
4.A� Get reviews
Reviews are a huge component of the Google+ Local listings.A� People often look to reviews of local businesses before making a decision to visit.A� The more reviews that the listing has, the more useful it will be to someone that is looking for information.A� Encourage happy customers or clients to leave a review and be sure to respond to all reviews.A� Thank people for a positive review and apologize and offer to make good on a situation if you encounter a negative review.A� All reviews need to be legitimate.A� Paying for good reviews is a practice that will come back to haunt you.
5.A� Improve your websitea��s trust factor
Google+ Local profiles should include a link back to the business website.A� Google+ Local listings that are associated with high quality sites that are trusted will be favored.A� Utilize SEO, social media, and content marketing to improve the trust factor of your website.
6.A� Submit information to other local listing sites
This is another way to confirm the accuracy of your listing.A� If Google sees the same business information (name, address, phone number) together consistently across the web it helps to validate it.
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