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