According to the search giant, 20% of all searches now have local intent, with 40% of Google mobile searches having local intent. Combine these two stats with the fact that well over 90% of consumers search online for local businesses, and it’s easy to see why local search visibility is critical for small businesses, especially those that operate brick-and-mortar.
Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) is a powerful tool that combines customer reviews and local search into a single platform. Google now independently indexes your detailed business information – name, phone number, mailing address, email address and website – and serves it up in search results when a user conducts a local search.
Here are four key things worth knowing about Google+ Local:
1. It offers visbility in universal search: Google+ Local pages are given primary placement over wider search results when a search query contains location information, i.e. “doctor near Washington, DC”. Because these results appear at or near the top of the first page of search results, they capture more eyeballs and higher visibility over competing pages.
2. It offers visbility inside Google+ itself: The social network that launched in 2011 has struggled to grow as quickly as anticipated, so Google leveraged their entire system of products to make it work. Google Places became Google +, encouraging users to search within the walls of its ecosystem. Google + Local pages only compete with other Google + Local pages for visibility, compared to Universal Search.
3. The key is to make your Google+ Local page as complete as possible. It’ll provide your customers a more complete picture of who you are and what you do, and perform better against competing Google+ Local pages. Remember, Google wants to provide searchers with the most relevant and useful results possible. It’s why people use search engines. They’re trying to find things quickly, easily and relevant to the search terms they used.
4. Reviews are a key component of a well-executed Google+ Local page. Google+ Local reviews are scored on a 30-point Zagat scale. Customers can score a business without actually writing a review. Positive reviews are social proof indicators – they give potential customers a way to evaluate the reputation of a given business with a numerical score. Encourage your current customers to leave reviews on your Google+ local page, but make sure you read the TOS. Offering compensation for positive reviews is a no-no. Don’t forget to response to positive and negative reviews.
Keeping your Google+ Local page up to date is easy with the Vocus Marketing Suite’s local listings management feature – click here to find out more.