Going Local: Google Plus for Business

Back in the original days of web search it used to be that only on page factors contributed to where you were ranking. Then Google came along and introduced site links with individual page rank acting as the deciding factor for rankings. Like everything, it has since evolved to include literally hundreds of other factors such as localization of content, link relevance and social metrics to name a few of the trendiest as of late.

It is hard to deny the fact that local search will continue to play a bigger and bigger part in how people look for businesses like yours online. Google Plus for Business is a great tool for local search engine optimization; in fact we believe every business needs a presence on this platform!

Not quite sure what Google Places or Plus for Business is all about? Here’s an example of the type of listings that are displayed for a local search results thanks to this cool service:

Example of a local search engine listing.

As you can see in the above, pretty much the entire search engine results page (referred to as SERPs in industry jargon) for the very local search term of “Toronto Dentists” is populated with Google place related listings. More and more, Google Plus listings are replacing many traditional results for any searches where the user intent is targeted on finding a local service provider.

If you don’t have a Google Plus account for your business, good news, they’re very easy to set-up. All you have to do is go here http://www.google.com/+/business/ then, check your mail in a few weeks for a verification code.

If you have multiple locations or are moving to a new location you will need a separate Google Plus page in either case and for each location.

So… What’s The Point?

All of this innovation requires business owners to adapt. Traditional organic results are being displayed less and less on Google’s search results. For many local searches, ads and Google Plus results of local businesses get placed above the traditional organic results for things like blog posts, events, and even your home page. On mobile this is even a bigger issue on mobile as the user now has to scroll past many Google Plus results to get your direct home page or sub page listing.

To put this into perspective studies show that Google is displaying only 13% of what used to be traditionally organic content.

It appears that Google is trying to display more and more Google owned content and properties, rather than content you own and have complete control over on your own servers..

The bottom line is this, if you are a local service provider and want be positioned in the ever changing landscape of the Google search results than you need to be setup to display in the Google Places results. Take a second and do a quick test search of your own for a term like “Dentists in Toronto” as we demonstrated earlier in this post.

Fundamentals to Ranking your Google Local page: World Wide Citations

Be consistent with the formatting of your contact information! Check out how Google creates business listings here. This means that your phone number should be displayed the exact same on your website as your Google Place page. Now, Google has been forcing the format on Google Plus to +1 888-280-2268 so we recommend you use that format on your website.

Google employs incredibly complex and sophisticated web crawlers which look for any and all mentions of your site across the web. So, whenever you are entering your contact information on anything such as a press release, a forum post, an event listing, or a listing on another directory (such as 411.ca) be consistent with the formatting and the terminology in which you use to refer to your business. That holds true for Street versus St. or Avenue versus Ave. If you don’t have many mentions on the web or even if you do, you should still make sure to set up accounts on the main directories out there as often times these are used to syndicate information to other outlets. The big ones to include in your planning are: yellow pages, yelp, BBB, your local BIA and any industry specific directories that apply to your business.

Get Recommended To Join The Pack

Getting recommendations on your Google Plus page is the best way to guarantee your spot in the Places pack. You should aim for 5 recommendations, as it is the bare minimum to show any kind of impact. Of course if your Google Place competitors have more than 5 results you should try to get more than them as a minimum! Be careful though, not all recommendations are made equal. The best recommendations you can get come from customers who are already active on the web, leaving their reviews and feedback for other businesses they interact with.

Once you get enough Google Place recommendations to outpace your competitors you should start spreading your recommendations across the Internet. Remember the worldwide citations? Getting recommendations on Yelp can really bolster down authority for your Google Plus page.

Evan White

Evan White

Director, Digital Projects

Evan is a not-so-self-proclaimed tech geek that has helped public companies, Fortune 500 enterprises, and SMB clients implement technical solutions to marketing challenges. Evan and his team at Neumarkets help B2B companies ramp up customer acquisition and customer lifetime value in order to achieve their next level of growth and set the roadmap for continued success. In his bookmarks there are links to tech blogs, and Formula 1 news. When not geeking out, you'll find Evan traveling or playing beach volleyball.