Darren Shaw is the Founder and President of Whitespark a digital marketing and tools provider that focuses on local businesses. Probably most well known for the awesome Local Citation Finder tool, Darren is one of the leading experts in local search and someone who I have learned quite a bit from. His talk at SearchLove West last year was an excellent “how to” on the citation cleanup process.
It’s been a busy week in Google Plus Local / Places land this week. After announcing the new Google Plus Local service over a year ago, Google finally announced this week that they are beginning to merge Google Places and Plus Local. This means that if you have a Google Places page that meets a certain set of criteria you will also have access to Google Plus Local functionality. This move has been a long time coming and opens up lots of possibilities for local business owners.
What does this mean for you?
Google Plus Local is Google’s own social network, so having a merged Google Plus Local page means you can leverage the benefits of social media to communicate with both existing and prospective customers. We know you aren’t the average, ordinary business owner, so here are some types to leverage the social features of Google Plus to show your users/customers/prospects how amazing you are!
Deals and Offers
An easy first step is to use this new platform to distribute offers and deals. Since Google Plus Local pages show up in local pack rankings that means that your prospects will have immediate access to an offer that may entice them to visit your business.
Build a Community
In today’s competitive online landscape it’s important to start building your community right away. That means you should be responding to any posts that people make on your Google Plus Local page as well as share relevant news about your business brand to prospective consumers. You should also start commenting on other Google Plus pages as your business. This helps you build awareness of your brand by reaching people who may not already be aware of your business. You can also be a content curator and share relevant pieces of information that are related to your industry. This allows you to give back to people who visit your page while not focusing on selling them. By providing them value through content curation, you establish yourself as an expert in your field and make it easier to break down the walls that would prevent a prospect from turning into a customer. These community building tactics help you leverage power of social media while at the same time building your online brand.
Google Authorship and Google Publisher Markup
In case you haven’t heard, Google is moving aggressively towards semantic search. In this new world it’s important to create semantic association between your brand and webpage and physical business location. Luckily Google Plus Local was designed to help facilitate just that. Rather then reinvent the wheel here are two fantastic and easy to understand guide to setting up publisher and authorship markup.
How to Use Google Plus for Business – This is an excellent Google Plus page that shares relevant information on how to use Google Plus for business.
How To Optimization Your Google + Business Page – This post on the HubSpot blog shares 5 relevant tips to help you get the most out of your Google Plus Local page.
Lastly here is a SliderShare presentation that contains the information from HubSpot’s “How to Use Google+ for Business eBook”:
Earlier today we notice this filter on searches where a Google local carousel is displayed:
Now that you can filter Google local results via price and rating, the value of being ranked first has gone down even more. Combine that with eye tracking studies done with Google carousel, and I can’t help but ask: is traditional local search ranking on it’s death bed?
Not only does this mean that Google native reviews are even more important, but it means that the pricing also can play a huge factor in filtering reviews (much like on Yelp). Combine this with Google repositioning Zagat as a Yelp competitor and it looks like the big G is doubling down on moving into local discovery (albeit in a way that is very fragmented and increasingly confusing for business owners). Is anyone else seeing this? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.