**UPDATE: June 2014 - Google launches 'Google My Business', merging Google+ Local and Map Accounts.** Google as a search engine is great. It’s a simple white page with a form and a button. You enter your search term and... well, that's it really.
But when it comes to all the other stuff Google does, it always seems very complicated and unclear. This means that people who stand to benefit often don't.
So sit up and pay attention. The recent changes to Google+ will help your business locally and this post is going to tell you how.
Would You Like More Business?
Stupid question really. Everyone in business wants more of it. Google knows this and is in the middle of a revamp of its core business support offering.
Google maps already show local businesses on them. But if you jump through the hoops then you will get an enhanced experience.
So let’s get to it.
First you need to create a Google local business page from within a Google+ account. Make sure when you do this that you select to start a local business page.
Businesses with a local Google + page will be displayed in Google maps and in Google local search. Customer reviews will be included in your enhanced local map listing. You don't get this unless you have a Google local business page set-up.
Of course if your customer reviews are zero, or absolute rubbish, then this may not help you. But you can bet your local competitors are building up great reviews – so you need to as well.
Once your page is set-up you need to jump through another hoop.
You need to set-up a Google places page as well. Totally confusing, but yes you do need to sort out a local business page and a places page.
The places page should contain all your business information. You will then need to verify ownership. Google will send you a physical postcard with a code on it. You can then enter that code in your account to prove you are who and where you say you are.
Here's The Real Benefit.
This is going to take some effort. Sorry. You don't just create a local business page and then leave it. The pay-off for your ongoing effort will be worth it though.
What you need to do is add great content to it. Photos, updates, offers. If you can get video in there, even better.
Google is looking for your page to add value for your customers and their users. So do it. Consistently.
In return for all this hoop jumping, Google will reward you.
- With enhanced search listings. So your site will be listed better in relevant searches.
- In Google maps. Again with enhanced listings and user reviews.
- In search. If you jump through all the hoops and have good reviews you can be given a significant search boost.
More traffic, more leads, more potential business.
That's why you need to know all about Google+. But it's more than that. You don't just need to know about it – you do now anyway.
You need to do it. You need to do it not just because of right now. You need to read between the lines of the message Google is sending out.
If Google is revamping local search and asking for you to jump through hoops, then it is part of their long term strategy for quality search results.
Jump through the hoops now and you will benefit for a long time to come. Ignore it and you will find those in business around you have moved into a position you cannot beat.