Getting Started with Google + Local in 6 Steps

If you are a small business owner (for example, a wholesaler) who is looking to primarily rank for local terms then having a Google + Local profile is really important in that journey. Have a read of these 6 simple steps to get yourself started!

1. Claim/Create Your Page

It is likely that your business may already have a +Local page without you realising it. Simply do a search for your business name in Google and see what comes up. It may be worth selecting ‘places’ in order to get a more accurate result.

+local1

+local2If a listing for your business appears then you should click through to it. Use the ‘manage this page’ option and follow the instructions to claim the listing.

If you need to create a listing from scratch then click here.

2. Verification

+local3Verification is done in one of two ways. A postcard with a pin number may be sent to your business address. Alternatively Google may call your business number and give you the pin over the phone. Once you have the pin you will then need to enter the number in to the box next to the listing in your +local account dashboard. Your listing will not be published until it has been verified.

3. Populate your Listing

It is a good idea to populate your listing as much as possible. Not only will a substantial listing look attractive and be incredibly helpful to users but it will also help with the optimisation side of things too. Write a nice description about your business that includes some of your main keywords, but don’t over do it! Fill out as many other fields as you possibly can, paying special attention to your address, phone number and website URL. The first two will add strength to your locality and the website address will add authority. You can also add up to five categories or tags that best describe your business. Make these as accurate as you can and where possible use one of the pre-set categories as opposed to a custom category.

4. Build Citations

Citations are simply the mention of a business’s details on another website. Citations are taken into account in Google’s algorithm and it is likely that a business which has more citations than another may have a better chance or ranking for local terms. Google wants to return results that are genuine, trustworthy and useful to their users. Citations help to show this validity.

Register your site on both local and national business directories such as Yell, Get Listed or any other industry specific directories you may know of.

Google needs to be able to connect the dots across all of these platforms and recognise that they all refer to the same business. Make this as easy as possible for them by always using exactly the same business name, address and phone number across the board. These are called structured citations. For example, our contact details could be written as:

Inbound
Phoenix Digital Arts Centre
Midland Street
Leicester
LE1 1TG

Or:

Inbound Digital Marketing
Phoenix Square
4 Midland Street
Leicester
LE1 1TG

When creating structured citations it is best to choose one and stick to it. However unstructured citations, where the company address details are mentioned in an adhoc way, are also very important. When talking about you online a user or customer is unlikely to mention your address details in a specific format but may mention ‘Inbound at Phoenix Square’ or ‘Inbound Marketing on Midland Street, Leicester’. It’s a bit like anchor text. Someone legitimately posting a link will not normally do so with a keyword anchor but will most likely use something a bit more organic.

5. Generate Reviews

Users love reviews which means that Google loves reviews. Reviews can be left on your Google +Local page and can help from both an optimisation and conversion point of view. As soon as you have sold a product or service to your customer ask them to review you before they turn cold. If a very happy customer has previously left you a testimonial and you have a good relationship with them why not ask them to turn this testimonial into a G+ review? You could also print the URL of your G+ page on the bottom of your receipts, invoices, and business cards as well as including it in your email signature. These are just a few ideas but remember, don’t fake them or you could end up in hot water!

6. Optimise Your Website

Local SEO has most definitely been a bit of a buzz word of late. Most people will know that having your contact details clearly displayed on your website is a good for local SEO, heck you could even embed in a Google map just to make sure! This is all good but also make sure that you are using shcema markup as this will better help Google know and understand your location. You can markup both your address and geocordinates for added local SEO pizazz!

For more check out the guys talking about Google+, Schema & co-citation in this Inbound debate.