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How to Get the Most Out of Your Google+ Local Listing

The world of online marketing is fast-paced, to say the least. I talk to clients every day, and many of them confess that keeping up with all of the latest trends and developments can be overwhelming. I’ll tell you the same thing that I tell them… which is, don’t worry, that’s my job!

Today, I am going to bring you up to speed on an online marketing platform which is becoming more and more powerful… Google+ Local. Google+ Local is a platform by which local businesses can list their information, similar to a Facebook business page. Consumers, meanwhile, can use the service to find local businesses. In addition to the usual information, like contact details and a company description, users can also read reviews, look at pictures, leave feedback, and more.

It’s a particularly powerful tool because of the importance Google assigns to these listings when it comes to search results. Creating a Google+ Local page, quite simply, is going to help more people find you through Google.

So if you are a local business, it’s time to get engaged if you aren’t already. To make the process a little easier, below are ten keys to creating an effective presence on Google+ Local.

1) Fill out your profile completely. Google+ Local gives you the ability to list your address, your phone number, and your website. But it gives you more options, as well. Take the time to fill out everything that you can—your hours of operation, your company description, and so forth. This makes it easier for consumers to answer their questions, and it also provides more information for Google to index.

2) Use a local phone number. Many of you have a toll-free number in addition to your local phone number. For Google+ Local, you are better off using the local number. For one thing, the majority of the consumers that find your profile are going to be locally based. In addition, it is likely that Google will treat profiles with local numbers as more credible, considering that the whole point of the program is to connect consumers with local businesses.

3) Ask for recommendations. As you probably know by now, positive testimonials and reviews are a critical sales tool. This is particularly true on a platform like Google+ Local, as most of your viewers will also be viewing the profiles of other businesses. The presence of strong reviews (or the lack) will often be a major factor in determining which business the consumer chooses. As I tell my clients, don’t be afraid to ask your customers and clients to leave you a review. Many of them will be glad to support you in this way.

4) Brand your profile as much as possible – logo, company colors, etc. As always, it is important that your brand is properly reflected on your Google+ Local page. While the design options are limited, at least for now, you should still take advantage of every opportunity to use your logo, your company colors, and so forth. Your profile shouldn’t feel "out of place" when viewed alongside the rest of your internet presence.

5) Link to your website. This should be obvious, but I’m telling you anyway because it’s important! Many consumers will start their search on Google, flip through a few profiles, and then click through to the website of a business that they’re interested in. Not listing your website can cause you to lose out on a new customer. Don’t make this mistake!

6) Double-check that all information is correct and matches your website. Many consumers will click through to your website with the specific purpose of verifying that your contact information is correct. Make sure the information on your profile matches what’s on your website. Incorrect information is a quick and easy way to lose credibility, so check everything carefully.

7) Use accurate, descriptive language—don’t try to fill your profile with SEO keywords. Some business owners may be tempted to use the old SEO strategy of stuffing their page with keywords. This is a losing strategy for two reasons. First, Google recognizes excessive usage of keywords and will likely penalize you for it. And second, real people will read the information on your Google+ Local page—and they want English, not SEO-speak.

8) Use photos as much as possible. You’ve heard me talk about how important photos are for your website and for your social media presence, and your Google+ Local page is no exception. Upload pictures of your team, your services, consumers enjoying your products, and so on. This gives viewers of your page the confidence that you’re a legitimate business and it gives you the opportunity to strengthen your brand at the same time.

9) Link to your profile from your website and from your social media presence. Now that you have built a great profile, make sure it gets noticed! Link to it from your website. Highlight it on social media. Invite customers to take a look (and leave a review!). The more exposure, the better off you will be, so make sure that it is highly visible!

10) Monitor your profile regularly. Finally, you can’t forget about your profile listing! This is something that many business owners are guilty of, on Google and elsewhere. If you move, you need to update your contact information. If you change your phone number, update it. If you change your business name, your logo, your scope of services, and so forth… update your Google+ Local profile! Otherwise, consumers are going to find it, try to find you, and end up frustrated. In addition, you want to know when you get new recommendations and other interactions, so check up on your profile regularly!

I know… I know… the last thing you want is *another* social media platform to worry about. But for better or for worse, Google is the dominant player in the search industry, so it makes sense to maintain a presence on their platform. The good news is that setting up your Google+ Local profile isn’t difficult. As always, I’m here to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Good luck!

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